2-7 Lowball game rules

2-7 lowball poker

A Single Draw from 2 to 7 (Kansas-City Lowball) is a variation of draw poker with an exchange. In this game, players must collect the weakest combination in order to win. Poker combinations in this game are different from those used in Hold'em or Omaha.

Be cautious, as straights and flushes are considered to be losing combinations here. Also, an Ace is considered as a high card in this game, unlike Stud or Badugi. Hence, in order to collect the strongest combination, your hand must consist of 5 unpaired and unsuited cards.

Lowball games are played with blinds, and sometimes ante can be used –  it is 1/10 of the big blind.

Lowball: 2-7 Single Draw

Each player at the table gets 5 cards facedown. Then, a betting round begins: the first word belongs to the player who sits to the left of the big blind. In the betting round, players can make a call, raise or fold.

Players who have stayed in the hand after the first betting round can improve their hand by exchanging one or more cards and get the new ones from the deck.

The sequence of actions in 2-7 Single Draw:

  • Pocket cards dealing
  • First betting round
  • The exchange
  • Second betting round
  • Showdown

Top 10 strongest combinations in 2-7 Single Draw (suits are given as an example):

  1. 2♣ 3♥ 4♦ 5♠ 7♠
  2. 2♠ 3♣ 4♦ 6♥ 7♦
  3. 2♦ 3♠ 5♣ 6♦ 7♥
  4. 2♥ 4♦ 5♠ 6♣ 7♦
  5. 2♦ 3♥ 4♦ 5♠ 8♣
  6. 2♣ 3♦ 4♥ 6♦ 8♠
  7. 2♠ 3♣ 5♦ 6♥ 8♦
  8. 2♦ 4♠ 5♣ 6♦ 8♥
  9. 3♥ 4♦ 5♠ 6♣ 8♦
  10. 2♦ 3♥ 4♦ 7♠ 8♣

As you can see, most cards that are considered to be strong in common types of poker (for example, in Hold'em) are weak in a single draw. Sets and pairs, straights and flushes are not taken into account in lowball, these are the losing combinations. If both opponents don’t have flushes and straights, the winner is determined by the highest card. For example, a hand of 8 7 5 4 2 beats the combination of 9 6 4 3 2.

Lowball: 2-7 Triple Draw 

There is also a kind of 2-7 single draw, which is called 2-7 Triple Draw (deuce to seven triple draw). The main differences of this type are increasing the possibility of the card exchange (from 1 in a single draw to three in a triple draw) and four betting rounds instead of two. The rules and the power of combinations remain the same as in Single Daw.

The sequence of actions in 2-7 Triple Draw:

  • First betting round
  • First cards exchange
  • Second betting round
  • Second card exchange
  • Third betting round
  • Third card exchange
  • Fourth betting round
  • Showdown

On the showdown, the player with the best low-combination wins as in a single draw. If the players have collected identical low-combinations, the pot will be split equally.

This poker discipline is popular among players around the world and even famous poker professionals like to play it. Here is a video from the legendary poker star Daniel Negreanu in which he tells how to play 2-7 Triple Draw:

2-7 Triple Draw Combinations

In 2-7 Triple Draw, the worse the cards you hold, the better. Low hands are always compared to the highest card. For example, 8-5-4-3-2 is weaker than 7-6-5-3-2. If players’ high cards are identical, then their combinations are compared according to the next highest card.

If you have ever played 5-Card Draw Poker, you know that a standard (high) ranking of poker combinations is used there. Thus, it will be easy for you to understand how combinations are formed in 2-7 Triple Draw, as everything is exactly the opposite. It means that the worst combination in the 5-card draw, namely 7-5-4-3-2, is the best hand in the 2-7 triple draw.

2-7 Triple Draw

In this game, 7-high always beats 8-high, which, in turn, beats 9-high, and so on. Besides, 2-2 is stronger than 3-3; a pair is stronger than three of a kind, while any straight is better than a flush. If both players make a straight, then the one who has lower straight wins.

Three strongest combinations in 2-7 Triple Draw:

  • 75432 (offsuit) is absolute nuts (also referred to as "wheel"). This is the strongest possible hand. You can’t consider 65432 as the best combination because these cards make a straight, which is a losing combination in 2-7 Triple Draw.
  • 76432 (offsuit).
  • 76532 (offsuit).

Important! All information given above relating to combinations works not only for 2-7 Triple Draw but also to 2-7 Single Draw.

2-7 Triple Draw poker Features

It is worth remembering a few distinctive features that will help you better understand this type of low poker (lowball):

  • The weaker the cards you hold, the better. In Texas Holdem, flushes and straights are strong combinations, but they are considered as weak hands in 2-7 Triple Draw games so that you should avoid them.
  • An ace is always the highest card. Hold'em players often make a huge mistake when collecting combinations with the ace. For example, A♥ K♠ Q♣ J♥ T♠ is a straight, while A♦ 2♦ 3♣ 4♠ 5♠ is not, because the ace is never considered as the lowest card in 2-7 Triple Draw.
  • Each player is dealt five cards face down and can change any or all of them 3 times, as there are three exchange stages. At the same time, the player is also able not to change their cards at all.
  • 2-7 Triple Draw is played with a fixed limit, while 2-7 Single Draw is played in no limit format.
  • As a rule, the number of participants is limited to six people so that everyone has enough cards to exchange. Nevertheless, it sometimes happens that there are still not enough cards in the deck. In such situations, a dealer shuffles those cards that were discarded by the players earlier in the game and then uses a “new” deck for exchange. This is not good because players usually fold bad (high) cards.

2-7 Triple Draw: Basic Strategy Tips

It is advisable for novice players to master Lowball games starting with Triple Draw. The fixed-limit betting structure and the ability to change cards three times reduce variance, allowing you to understand the rules and way of collecting combinations without much risk.

2-7 Triple Draw strategy

Here are some basic strategy tips to play 2-7 Triple Draw:

  1. Position is very important in this game. Since there are no community cards, the ability to bet and exchange cards from a late position is a big advantage. Playing in position, you already know how many cards your opponents have changed. With this in mind, you can make an optimal decision. Therefore, try to play in position as often as possible.
  2. Furthermore, the position allows you to reach showdown with medium hands spending little money. For this, you should knock out opponents who have weak hands. Against very cautious opponents, you can apply a tough bluff: bet on the pre-draw, don't change anything, and then make a large continuation bet.
  3. Playing 2-7 Triple Draw, you should eliminate from your range hands that may require more than two exchanges to make a strong combination.
  4. If you are dealt 7-high (or 8-high), then you should play it aggressively before the first exchange stage, since refusing to exchange cards after the first betting round will make your hand obvious and your opponents may no longer pay you off. Therefore, there is no point in slow playing.
  5. Four low cards are considered strong starting hands in Triple Draw so that you should play them as aggressively as possible. However, you need to beware of straight draws. For example, let’s assume you have x4567. In this case, your outs to improve the hand can only be twos and nines.
  6. Keep in mind that if there is a multi-pot, then your chances of getting 2 or 3 are significantly reduced, since most likely that low cards have already been dealt to other players.
  7. You should make a 3-bet with a starting hand that is one card short of a made low combination.
  8. In 2-7 Triple Draw, bluffing is a very important part of the game, as many hands do not reach showdown. For example, if you have exchanged more than one card, then the probability of making a strong hand is very low. Thus, you should not take part in the exchange but bet as a bluff instead.

It is also important to remember two rules:

  • A low to Jack is always ahead of a four-card draw.
  • A low to Queen is always ahead of a three-card draw.

Example. Let’s assume that you have 3-5-7-8-J (in position) and before the last round of bets you see that your opponent changed one card. In this case, you can use the option to "stand pat" (keep your hand intact). Whatever the hand your opponent has, they will improve it less often than in 50% of cases. If your opponent checks, you should also check and watch the showdown; if your opponent bets, then you should fold without investing extra money in the pot.

2-7 Lowball Pros and Cons

  • This discipline is different from traditional Holdem (or Omaha), but it’s also very exciting and full of action.
  • Since opponents can’t see your cards, you can easily use bluffs. It often brings additional profit.
  • Not many players can boast of having great skills so that you can win money from inexperienced opponents if you hone your own skills and take them to an advanced level.
  • Playing 2-7 Lowball, you will not see your opponents’ cards. Therefore, you will have very limited information to make assumptions about the strength of their hands.
  • This game is considered to be technically difficult so novice players may spend a lot of time sharping their skills.

Final thoughts

Lowball is a very interesting, dynamic and sometimes unpredictable game. If you know its basics, tactics of changing cards, bluffs and semi-bluffs, learn to follow your opponents’ actions, read body language, then, without any doubt, you will play much better than other players, and you can easily make good money.

You should remember that Lowball, like Draw Poker, is a game with a minimum amount of available information, so you must always be extremely careful and watch your opponents.

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I’ve been working in the Cardmates team since 2018. Started playing poker the same way most people usually do – socially, with friends and fellow students. I adored those exciting poker nights but never thought my life would be connected with this game, even tangentially.
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