Triple Draw Lowball

Triple Draw Lowball (often called just Triple Draw) is a form of lowball poker for two to six players. It’s a fairly simple game, especially if you’re familiar with Five-Card Draw or other Draw Poker variants. However, having four chances to bet instead of one makes Triple Draw an exciting, competitive game with large pots and lots of betting action. Triple Draw has become popular in Las Vegas casinos, being included in many high-limit mixed game rotations.

Object of Triple Draw Lowball

The object of Triple Draw Lowball is to form the lowest-ranking poker hand after drawing new cards up to three times.

Setup

Triple Draw uses the same standard 52-card deck as most other poker games. We suggest that you give Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards a try if you haven’t yet. You’ll also need something to bet with, probably poker chips. The game is typically played with fixed limits (see “Betting in poker“), so all players should agree to what the limits will be.

The two players to the left of the dealer post their blinds (see “Blinds and antes“). Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. The dealer retains the deck stub for later use.

Game play

Upon receiving their cards, players evaluate the strength of their hand. Triple Draw is most frequently played with deuce-to-seven lowball rules. In this version of lowball, straights and flushes are taken into consideration when ranking hands, and aces count high. That means the lowest possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7 (because 2-3-4-5-6 forms a straight). The first betting round then begins, with the player to the left of the big blind (the player under the gun) starting the betting. Betting follows the typical rules of betting in poker.

After the first round of betting is resolved, the first draw occurs, starting with the player to the left of the dealer (the small blind). This player discards any number of cards, from zero to five, face down in front of them. The dealer then deals them the appropriate number of replacement cards from the stub. This continues, clockwise, until all active players have had a chance to swap cards. The dealer then collects the discards and sets them aside.

When the first draw finishes, the second betting round begins, starting this time with the small blind player. This is followed by a second draw (conducted the same way as the first), then the third betting round, then the third draw, then the fourth and final betting round. Betting limits are typically doubled on the third and fourth betting rounds. If there are at least two active players left at the end of the fourth betting round, they reveal their hands. Whoever has the lowest-ranked poker hand wins the pot.

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Lowball poker

Lowball is a general term for a category of poker variants that turn the typical rank of poker hands on its head—instead of the best poker hand winning, the worst one does! A royal flush in a lowball game would be beaten by any other hand. Any poker variant can be played with lowball rules, and some games split the pot between the best conventional (high) hand and the best low hand. However, there are a few different ways that the lowest hand can be reckoned, which need to be established before you start playing.

Ace-to-five lowball

Ace-to-five lowball, or California lowball, is probably the simplest way of determining the low hand, and the one most commonly used, including in casinos. In this variant of the game, straights and flushes are ignored for the purposes of determining hand ranking. Aces are considered low. Therefore, the lowest (and therefore best) possible hand is A-2-3-4-5, which is also called the wheel or bicycle. (Because the bicycle is also a straight, it may well take both the high and low halves of the pot in split-pot games.) Note that pairs, three-of-a-kinds, and so forth do still count as hands, and will therefore be ranked higher (and therefore worse) than unpaired hands, even if they contain high cards.

Deuce-to-seven lowball

Deuce-to-seven lowball, also known as Kansas City lowball, takes straights and flushes into consideration when ranking hands, and aces count high. Thus, the lowest possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7 (because 2-3-4-5-6 forms a straight).

Ace-to-six lowball

Ace-to-six lowball is the least commonly-used variation, serving as sort of a middle ground between the two variants listed above. It is essentially deuce-to-seven lowball, except aces are low, so the lowest possible hand is A-2-3-4-6.

General considerations

Lowball hands are often quoted as their highest card. 8-7-5-3-2 may be called simply “an eight”. If there are multiple hands in play with the same highest card, they can be further disambiguated by the second-highest card, e.g. “an 8-7”.

Some split-pot games involving low hands may stipulate that a hand must contain cards below a certain rank. For instance, if a low hand is required to be “8 or better”, as in Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better, all of the cards within the low hand must be an 8 or lower. In such games, if the lowest hand possible among the active players does not meet the requirements, the pot is simply not split, with the entirety being awarded to the player that won with the highest hand.

To determine which hand is lowest and therefore best, start with the highest card. Whichever hand has the lowest high card will win. If there are ties, the next-highest card is compared, and so on until the tie is broken. If you get all the way down to the lowest card without being able to break the tie, the pot is simply split.

Wild cards, usually jokers, can be included in the game, especially ace-to-five lowball. Wild cards generally become the lowest card possible without forming a pair. For example, 7-5-4-★-2 will count the joker as a 3 because counting it as a 2 would form a pair.

In split-pot games, if the pot cannot be split evenly, it is customary to award the odd amount to the winner of the high hand.

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Baduci

Baduci, also spelled “Badeucey“, is a variant of Badugi that adds some more poker elements to the game. Players compete to put together the best hand incorporating not only the best Badugi hand, but also the best lowball poker hand. Baduci is often played as an alternate to Badugi to keep the game fresh.

Object of Baduci

The object of Baduci is to create the best possible hand that includes both a) a four-card hand with the lowest cards possible, without duplicating either ranks or suits, and b) a five-card deuce-to-seven lowball poker hand.

Setup

Baduci uses one standard 52-card deck of playing cards. You should know by now that Denexa 100% Plastic Playing Cards are the way to go.

All players ante or post blinds, if necessary (see “Blinds and antes“). Shuffle and deal five cards to each player. Place the deck stub in the center of the table, where it becomes the stock.

Game play

Rank of hands

In Baduci, there are two ways that a hand is evaluated—as a Badugi hand, and as a poker hand. In both cases, aces rank high and therefore are not very valuable.

The Badugi hand uses a subset of the hand and is evaluated the same way that a hand in basic Badugi is evaluated. A Badugi hand cannot duplicate ranks or suits; any duplicates are disregarded, meaning that the Badugi hand can include as many as four cards (such a hand is called a badugi) or as few as one. Badugis outrank three-card hands, which outrank two-card hands. If two hands with the same number of cards are compared, the lowest card in the hand breaks the tie. If the lowest card of each hand is the same, then the next-lowest card would be compared, and so on. If two hands have exactly the same composition in number of cards and ranks, then they tie.

The poker hand is a deuce-to-seven lowball hand. This means that the lowest poker hand as conventionally ranked is considered the best; the “deuce-to-seven” part means that because aces are high, the best possible hand is 2-3-4-5-7 (since 2-3-4-5-6 would form a straight).

Play of the hand

Other than the addition of the lowball hand, the game proceeds exactly as Badugi does. After the hands have been dealt, the game proceeds to the first betting round, which follows the same rules as normal betting in poker. After that, each player may, in turn, discard any number of cards from their hand and be dealt new ones from the stock.

After getting a chance to exchange cards, there is another betting round. This repeats until a total of four betting rounds and three drawing rounds have occurred. The active players then proceed to the showdown, where hands are evaluated. The player with the best Badugi hand takes half the pot, with the other half going to the player with the best lowball hand. If one player has the best hand in both categories, they take the entire pot; if two players tie for best in one of the categories, that half of the pot is split between the two of them (each receiving a quarter of the original pot).

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