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Deuce to Seven Lowball

Deuce-to-Seven Lowball
by Chad Holloway of

Deuce-to-seven lowball is not one of the more popular games in poker; nonetheless, it is a game both respected and played by poker professionals. Doyle Brunson has called it "the most skillful form of lowball poker" and "an almost perfect no-limit game." It is a staple event, usually devoid of the countless amateurs, at the World Series of Poker, and is often played in home games around the country. How is the game played you may wonder? In Poker Wisdom of a Champion, Brunson explains:

"Deuce-to-seven (Kansas City Lowball) is almost the exact opposite of conventional poker. You can just imagine how it got started. It was probably some home game, dealer's choice, and some guy said, 'I've got an idea. This time let's play the worst hand wins!' So they tried it and liked it. That's about all there is to know about it. You get five cards and you can draw as many as you want."


In deuce-to-seven lowball, straights and flushes do count and aces are always counted as high (unlike its cousin, ace-to-five lowball). With that said, the best possible hand is 7-5-4-3-2 unsuited (since a 6 instead of 7 would give you a straight and aces are always counted as the highest card). The chances against being dealt this hand pat (meaning without drawing) are more than 2500 to 1. Like other hi/lo games, the hand is rated by the strength, or lack thereof, of the highest card in the hand; that is, since a 9-5-4-3-2's highest card is a 9, it is worse off than a hand that has only an 8 as a high card, such as 8-7-6-5-3. Because the game is a variation of five-card draw, it is often hard to gauge the strength of an opponent's hand. For this reason, the betting in deuce-to-seven lowball can be large and disproportionate to the pot. Brunson offers the following advice for playing deuce-to-seven lowball:

"A one-card draw to 7 6 5 4 is not very good. If you catch an 8 or 3, you've got no way to win except by bluffing. Contrast that one-card draw to 7 6 5 2. Providing those are not all the same suit, that's a very strong draw because you can't make a straight or a flush by accident. The same is true of two-card draws. Any two-card draw should include both a deuce and a seven: 7 5 2 is good, 7 5 3 is bad. There's only one other rule you need to know. Aces are always high. Therefore, 5 4 3 2 A is not a straight; it's ace-high no pair. I suggest you play no limit. But be prepared for a lot of swings. Your bankroll will do a lot of hopping around, and sometimes you'll feel like you dog died."

Although deuce-to-seven lowball is not found in most casinos, or even online, it is a variation of poker that has been played for many decades. Poker professionals consider the best poker players versed in the many forms of poker, including deuce-to-seven lowball; therefore, you may want to consider adding the game to your poker arsenal.


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