How to Play 2-7 Draw Lowball

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Published: 22/07/2012

Lowball is a version of draw poker in which the lowest or “worst” hand wins. According to poker historians, the game first came into vogue in the United States after the turn of the 20th century. Since then, lowball has spread to card rooms around the world, gaining even more popularity in the new millennium as it became a championship event at the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Most notable among the many variants of lowball poker is the one known as Deuce to Seven Lowball (Single Draw) or Kansas City Lowball. On the WSOP schedule, it is most often listed as “2-7 Draw Lowball.” It differs quite greatly from other low-hand games such as Seven Card Razz or Omaha 8 in that flushes and straights count against low hand values and Aces are always high. That means the very best hand possible is an unsuited 7-5-4-3-2, hence the name “2-7” or “Deuce to Seven.” Additionally, this game features a drawing round, unlike its stud poker relatives.

Like all other professional tournament level games, 2-7 Draw Lowball is played with a standard 52-card deck. Each hand begins with forced bets called “blinds.” The player seated to the left of the dealer button must post the “small blind,” a nominal amount related to the betting minimum at the table. The player seated to the left of the small blind must post the “big blind,” which is twice as much as the small blind.

Some versions of 2-7 Draw Lowball are also played with an “ante.” This is another form of forced wagering, with each player required to place a small initial bet in the pot in addition to the blinds prior to the deal.

Once the blinds and/or antes have been made, every active player receives five cards dealt face down. No cards are revealed. Players evaluate the relative merits of their hands and a round of betting ensues, beginning with the player seated to the left of the big blind, a position referred to as “under the gun.” In turn going clockwise around the table, each player has the opportunity to call, raise or fold.

All of the players remaining in the hand after the first betting interval now have the opportunity to “draw” cards. In other words, they may attempt to improve their hands by discarding from one to all five of the cards they were originally dealt and receive new cards as replacements. Any player who is satisfied with the original five cards dealt may choose not to participate in the draw by “standing pat.”

As soon as the draw has been completed, a second round of betting occurs, starting with the last player to have raised in the first round. If no player raised, then the betting begins with the first active player seated to the left of the dealer button, who has the option to check, bet or fold. If no bet is made, the following players also have the option to check, bet or fold. If a bet is made, subsequent players may raise, call or fold. Betting continues in this fashion until there are no more raises.

If more than one player remains in the hand at the end of the second betting round, a “Showdown” takes place. The last player to have raised shows his or her hand first, followed by the other remaining players in clockwise rotation. The player holding the best low hand takes the entire pot. In case of identical winning hands, the pot is split equally amongst them.

One special rule for 2-7 Draw Lowball regards occasions when more cards are needed for the draw than the number remaining in the deck. In such cases, the cards in the original stub plus all of the cards discarded by inactive players are shuffled together to make a new stub and play continues from that point using the new stub. The discards of active players are not used in the reshuffle, so that no one will receive back a card previously discarded.

Published on: 22/07/2012

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