One of the most interesting poker games, to my liking of course, is the so-called Lowball or “low poker” (a not very elegant translation as you can see). It is not a very popular game, we will see why, and I have not found anything about it in poker net, due to which I found it interesting to comment on it.
As you can see, the objective is to obtain the lowest possible game. Which is what is considered lowest, it will depend on which mode of Lowball we are talking about, since although the game is not very popular compared to Texas Hold’em or Omaha, it has several ways of playing it.
The game can be played in two ways: With the card exchange mode (draw lowball) or with the Seven Card Stud game mode.
Change of cards
In its first form, with change of cards, it can be, with one, two or three changes of cards, thus enabling better hands to come out. So we have Draw Lowball (with one card change), Double Draw Lowball (two card changes) and Triple Draw Lowball (three card changes). Usually played with one or three card changes. Then the game will take different names according to the best hand that can be formed. In California, USA, it is customary to play with the lowest hand as A, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Thus, five covered cards are dealt to each player, in which most of the time we will have five cards different, so forming low hands is not so difficult, and is usually played with a change of cards or with three changes, a betting round with the first five cards dealt and after each change a round of more bets; in total four rounds, if played with three changes, or two rounds if played with a change. It is played with a dealer button and also with blind bets just like in Texas Hold’em or Omaha. In this game, the stairs and colors do not count, so if I have A, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the same suit I have the lowest hand and I don’t have a straight flush. This is the so-called California Lowball, or simply “Lowball A to 5”, since A, 2, 3, 4 and 5, is the best hand. Another quite popular modality, which has its origin in Kansas City, USA, is Lowball 2 to 7; It is also played with a change of cards, either one, two or three changes, five cards are also dealt to each player, but in this game the stairs and colors do count, and the Ace is always a high card. So the best hand is 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 of different suit. This is the so-called Kansas City Lowball or simply “Lowball 2 to 7”. It is also typically played with one or three card changes.
In its second form, Lowball can be played with the Seven Card Stud mode, trying to get the lowest possible hand. The most famous variant in this second form is the so-called Seven Card Stud Low or simply Razz, in which the best hand is A, 2, 3, 4 and 5; The stairs and colors do not count. Game originating from the State of Nevada in the USA, in which the same rules of the Seven Card Stud game are played, but, the highest card has the forced bet, and from the fourth street (second card discovered) onwards the Lower hand of the cards discovered begins the betting round. It is a very interesting game, and always has a safe event in the World Series of Poker and is also part of the game H.O.R.S.E. Another less popular and little known variant is the so-called London Lowball, also in the Seven Card Stud mode, but the stairs and colors count, and the Ace is the lowest card. So the best play is A, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of different suit.
Each of these poker variants, can be played with different betting modalities (with limit, without limit, or with the pot as limit). The most famous and commonly played variants in US casinos are:
NO LIMIT / LIMIT TRIPLE DRAW LOWBALL A to 5: Three card changes, the best hand is A, 2, 3, 4 and 5. Generally with limit or no bet limit.
NO LIMIT / LIMIT DRAW LOWBALL A to 5: Same as above but with only one change of cards.
NO LIMIT / LIMIT / POT LIMIT TRIPLE DRAW LOWBALL 2 to 7: Three card changes, the best hand is 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 of different suit. Any betting modality is adopted.
NO LIMIT / LIMIT DRAW LOWBALL 2 to 7: Same as above but with only one change of cards. It is not very frequent to play it with the well as limit. This year’s World Series of Poker featured a No Limit Draw Lowball 2 to 7 event.