Lowballs basicsLowball is a five card draw game that many pros like Elizabeth Shannon love. If you know what that means, you're ahead of where I was when I learned how to play this game. I just went into an online card room and figured out I'd wing it! I thought it couldn't be so dissimilar to other 5-card draw games.
I learned how to play 5 card draw first. I was about nine and my Uncle was teaching me, my brother and some of my cousins, how to play the game. I knew I loved poker from the time I learned how to play my first hand even if I didn't fully understand what was going on.
Unfortunately, I did learn a lot that day. Lowball is very different. In lowball, each player gets five cards face-down. After that, there is a betting round and players nned to bet or fold. After this initial round, the players who are left can choose to try improve their hand by replacing some of the cards in their hand with new ones. That part was definitely the most fun when I was a kid. It still is. Getting new cards is a hoot, isn't it? In most forms of lowball, players can choose up to 4 new cards at a time. Here are the rules of the game:
Five cards is a playing hand, anything less than that is considered a foul and the hand would have to be re-dealt. The dealer has some advantage. You can draw or if you are standing pat, you can still participate in the hand.
Of course, there are more rules but these are the basic rules. Lowball is not a poker variation for beginners. Boy, did I learn that the hard way! Of course, if you're drawn to it - no pun intended, of course - you should give it a whirl. There are two forms of the game, the ace-to-five variation and the deuce-to-seven format.
In ace-to-five lowball, the rules are that the nut low is the wheel; ace counts as the lowest card; flushes or straights are not counted; previously to the draw, an exposed card should not be used; you will normally have to have at least a seven in order to be allowed to wager.
Deuce-to-Seven lowball is very similar with minor differences: before drawing, an exposed card below a seven but not a six must be kept; check-raises are allowed in some scenarios; flushed or str8s count against you.
Lowball can be a lot of fun if you like draw games and have an understanding of the basic rules of poker. You can't play the game unless you've mastered at least some of the basic concepts of poker. It's not very simple, as this article has shown. Remember that betting plays heavily into the strategy of the game. So does your behavior at the table. Lowball variants are best played for advanced students of the game. Some people play them exclusively once they start. They can be very fun and very rewarding.
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