While Texas Hold'em or Omaha might be where they make most of their money a favorite poker variation among most poker players is 2-7 (aka Deuce-to-Seven) Triple Draw.
This five-card lowball variation of poker is surprisingly challenging and requires strong card reading ability and great fortitude, especially when played with a No-Limit structure.
It's also a ton of fun and you can see the joy in the faces of some of the most famous poker pros in the world when they're in the midst of an epic 2-7 Triple Draw battle.
The rules of 2-7 Triple Draw are a little bit tricky to get a handle on at first but that's mostly with regards to figuring out how 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball hands are properly ranked.
Once you're comfortable with the rankings and how to think about playing a lowball game, you're well on the way to becoming a lifelong 2-7 Triple Draw fan.
If you've begun your poker-playing career by playing a standard "high" poker variation it'll take a bit of adjustment to get used to playing lowball.
To start with your objective in every hand is to make the "lowest" possible hand. Wrapping your brain around that can take some time. Holding face cards in your hand is bad. That might never seem right.
An holding an ace is your hand is even worse. In 2-7 Triple Draw, aces are always high. In some lowball variations an Ace can also be a low card but not in 2-7 Triple Draw.
If you ever forget which it is, use the name of the game itself as a guide. The name of the game is in fact the very object of the game - to get a low hand between 2 and 7.
To get a handle on the full 2-7 Triple Draw rules you can break it down into a few components:
2-7 Triple Draw is typically played as a Limit game with a small and big blind; it's exactly the same as Limit Hold'em, really.
The players directly to the left of the dealer are the small and big blind, respectively. The big blind is typically twice the size of the small blind (eg $1/$2).
Unlike Holdem, in 2-7 Triple Draw each player is dealt five cards face down. The deal starts with the player to the left of the dealer and proceeds clockwise until each player has five cards.
Once each player has 5 cards the first betting round begins.
Play rotates clockwise starting with the player to the left of the big blind. Players may each, in turn, match the big blind (call), raise or fold. Once the action gets back to the big blind, he or she may check (if no one has raised the bet), call or raise. If there has been a raise the big blind cannot check and see another card.
A minimum raise is twice the size of the big blind or twice the size of any bet before it. Once all bets have been equalized players can now proceed to the first draw.
In No-Limit play a player can put all of his or her chips across the betting line at anytime. If any player has less than the total of another player's all in they can still bet all of their chips in the hand. It then becomes the "effective stack" and the player with the biggest stack is only risking the amount of the lower stack (unless there is a bigger bet in play from another player).
Any players still left in the hand after the first betting round may then (in the same order as the betting) discard as many cards as they wish. That means a player can discard anywhere from 0 (stand pat) to all 5 cards.
Once each player's cards have been replaced there is another betting round. The second betting round proceeds as the first with the player closest to the left of the dealer still in the hand the first to begin the action.
Once all the bets have been matched again there is a second draw for any players left in the hand. Players can again discard however many cards they'd like.
Once all players have received their new cards another betting round ensues. This continues until each player who remains in the hand has had three total draws. Once the final round of betting is complete hands are "shown down" and the lowest hand wins the pot.
Once all three draw rounds are complete and the betting is closed, players reveal their hands and the lowest possible hand wins the pot.
Hands are ranked according to the highest card in the hand down with the lowest "high" card deciding the winner. The best possible 2-7 Lowball hand is:
The next best 2-7 hand is 7-6-4-3-2, and so on with the lowest high card always best. If the lowest high card is the same, then the next lowest high card is the deciding factor.
Aces are always high cards and straights, flushes and pairs count against you (ie diminish the value of your hand).
Only one hand will win the entire pot (ie it's not a split game with both a high and a low hand). If two players have the exact same hand they split the pot.
Once the player with the lowest hand wins the pot, play moves around to the next hand with the player to the left of the dealer now in the dealer position and the blinds moving one place to the left.
As we mentioned above the 2-7 Triple Draw Hand Rankings take a little bit of time to get used to. Ideally you want all unmatched, unsuited low cards.
Any pairs, straights or flushes will reduce the value of your hand. So for example a 7h-5h-4h-3h-2h will lose to any unsuited lowball hand even if the highest low card in that hand is higher than 7.
Also remember that Aces are always high so 5-4-3-2-A isn't a low straight or wheel but an Ace-five lowball hand (ie A-5-4-3-2). Hands are commonly referred to in that manner - eg 8-6 high is a hand with and 8 and 6 as the two highest cards.
Here's a list of the Top 25 (meaning lowest) hands in 2-7 Triple Draw to help you out:
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