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Lowball

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LOWBALL (ALSO CALLED LOBALL, CALIFORNIA LOWBALL AND LOW POKER)

Lowball’s played the same as Draw poker, except it’s played for low (the lowest-ranked hand wins the pot). Aces can be played as 1, so the lowest-ranked hand, which is the best hand in Lowball, is the wheel: 5-4-3-2-A. No other hand in Lowball will beat it (another wheel can tie it, though). The next best hand in Lowball is 6-4-3-2-A, then 6-5-3-2-A, and so on. Anything higher than a 10 in your hand is generally un-winnable. Straights and flushes don’t count in Lowball.

The biggest challenge in playing Lowball is figuring out what the winning hand is since it’s the opposite to what we all know from regular poker. With lots of practice, it will become second nature to you. Try Poker Stars, which have free tables with games that play for high and low. They’re also very popula, so you’ll never have to wait for players to join a game.

Once you’ve got a hang on spotting the best hand, you should fine tune your game by implementing the tips that follow.

The draw & starting hands

In Lowball, you should never play a hand that needs only one more card to win and drawing two or three cards isn’t such a good idea either.

Like most poker games, play only hands that will win and fold the rest. If you’re the blind and nobody has raised, that’s fine to coast through to the next betting round (as long as it doesn’t cost you more) with a weaker hand. You should always advance in a game if it doesn’t cost you more to do so (but then fold immediately if somebody raises & you don’t have such a great hand).

Based on your position, you can apply these starting hands:

LOWBALL MINIMUM STARTING HANDS

Early Position

8-high pat hand (keep all of your cards)

 

7-high draw one card

Middle Position

9-high pat hand

 

8-high draw one card

Late Position

10-high pat hand

 

9-high draw one card

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If you’re in early position, fold unless you have an 8-high pat hand or a 7-high one card draw. You’re too vulnerable to players in later positions raising and it’s not a strong enough hand to stay in and you’ll have to fold on a raise.

A 7-high pat hand (meaning 7 is the highest card in your hand and you don’t need to draw any cards) is a great hand and you should play it aggressively. Raise or re-raise during the first betting round. If you have a 6-high pat hand, you’re almost guaranteed a win, but this time you want to be more aware of not scaring too many people out of the pot. To do this, don’t raise in early position. If there are only a few people in the pot, don’t be afraid to raise and re-raise with such a winning hand.

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