Lowball poker is a term used to encompass many different types of poker variants that usually have two things in common, they use the Draw Card method and they deal with low hands instead of the high hands with regular poker. The history is pretty fuzzy when it comes to how and when Lowball was invented, and even when it was introduced. Many speculate that Lowball was developed in the 1900’s, whereas the Lowball variants were actually introduced to the world of poker much later, starting in the 1970’s. Lowball has the reputation of being a fun poker game that takes a different view of regular poker, and this is why it has become pretty popular. Lowball is more of a term, rather than a specific type of poker game. It is attached to other games to let players know that the rules differ than regular poker.
Different Variants of Lowball
There are four different types of variants of Lowball, most of which can be found in online poker rooms. Lowball can be split into the possible four categories, depending on the game and rules. When playing Lowball, the rules need to determine whether or not the Ace will be treated as a high card or a low card, which are the first two variants. The last two deal with straights and flushes, and whether or not they will count in the game. From these four common variants, there have been a wide variety of games that have been created around these ideas.
Examples of Lowball Poker
There are five examples of Lowball poker that are the most popular and are the ones being played the most at present. Each of these differs in a certain way, either on how it is played or in its rules. The first game is called California Lowball, which is played with an Ace to 5 ranking, limit betting, and they use one joker in the deck. Kansas City Lowball is played with a 2 to 7 ranking, no-limit. Razz is a form of Seven Card Stud, with an Ace to 5 ranking. Triple Draw is where the game is played for 3 draw rounds, can be played with limit or pot-limit betting, and can be played with 2 to 7 or Ace to 5 ranking. The last example is the London Lowball, which is played like Seven Card Stud with an Ace to 6 ranking and pot-limit betting.
A tip for Lowball poker players is if the game is Ace to 5 ranking, this usually means that flushes and straights do not count against a player’s hand. The opposite applies to 2 to 7 ranking, where flushes and straight do count against the player and are considered high ranking hands.
How to Play Lowball Poker
As Lowball uses the draw card method, except when its variants play as Seven Card Stud.
Before the first round of betting occurs during a draw method match of Lowball, the dealer will give each player five cards. These cards are the hole cards, which are only meant for them to use. The first round of betting will occur after the cards are dealt. The next round is called the draw round; it is where players get the chance to exchange their cards for new ones from the deck. Depending on the type of poker game, the amount of draw rounds will differ. After each draw round, there will be a betting round. After the final round of betting, and there are two or more players still in the game, then there will be a showdown. This step is where those players show their cards in order to determine a winner.
Seven Card Stud
When playing Seven Card Stud style, the method of playing is different. Players will each get three cards to start with, with one of the cards facing up. The round of betting starts by the player that has the lowest card that is face up. Then the dealer will hand out another card to each player, also face up. The betting rounds after the first one will change; instead of the player with lowest card starting, the one with the highest card will start. This happens until the seventh card is dealt, but this card is dealt face down. One last round of betting will happen before the showdown. Players must come up with a hand using the seven cards they were given.
Lowball Poker Rules
There are four methods, or rules, when playing Lowball.
Ace to Five
Aces are considered low cards, and the straights and flushes do not count against a player’s hand. This makes the lowest hand possible an A-2-3-4-5 sequence. This is the most common form of Lowball.
Ace to Six
During this method, Aces are considered low cards and straights and flushes count against the player’s hand. The lowest hand is an A-2-3-4-6 sequence, which is also called a 6-4 Low.
Deuce to Seven
With this method the Aces are considered high cards, and the flushes and straights also count against the hand. This means the lowest sequence is a 2-3-4-5-7. As Aces are high cards, an A-2-3-4-5 sequence is not a straight, but instead is an Ace-high hand.
Deuce to Six
This method ignores straights and flushes, and the Ace is considered high. The lowest hand is the sequence of 2-3-4-5-6.
When deciding who the winner is during a showdown, players must compare the highest card in their hands. The player with the lowest card among those is the winner. If a winner cannot be determined by that, then they move on to the next card, and so on until a winner is found.