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High-low Poker

This popular and interesting version of Draw Poker is played as a combination of standard poker, in which the highest-ranked hand at the showdown wins, and Lowball, in which the lowest wins.  Each player has the option of playing for highest hand, lowest hand or high-low ( it is possible, as we shall see, for a hand to be highest and lowest, although it is more likely in seven card stud, High–low, as described in the Stud Poker section).

            During the betting intervals, players do not know who is betting hoping to win the high hand and who is betting hoping to win the low.  This is declared only at the showdown.  At the showdown, the pot is divided equally between the player who wins high and the player who wins low.  If there is an odd chip, it goes to the high player.
            High hands are ranked as in standard poker, and low hands as in standard Lowball.  This is where the possibility arises that a hand can be high and low.  For example ♥ A, ♥ 8, ♥ 5, ♥ 3, ♥ 2 could be the highest hand, ranking as an Ace-high flush, but it could also be the lowest, as in Lowball flushes are not recognized and Ace counts low, so the hand in Lowball is 8, 5 high, an excellent hand.  Similarly a straight, 6,5,4,3,2 could be high and low but this is very rare in five-card Draw Poker.
            At the showdown, players must declare simultaneously whether they are competing for high, low or high-low.  The commonest way to do this is for the players to secrete a chip in their hand sunder the table, say red for high, white for low, and one of each color for high-low.

  • If in a showdown between two online poker players one player is competing for high and one for low, they automatically share the pot.
  • If two players are competing for high and one for low, the player competing for low automatically takes the pot for low the other two players must show their hands, the higher taking the pot for high.
  • If a player are competes for high-low, he must beat both high and low players – if his hand isn’t high and low, he loses, and the pot is divided among the other players as if he hadn’t bet.  This is to say that if a player declares high-low and holds the highest hand but not the lowest   (or vice versa), he loses both.  The lowest hand takes the low pot and the highest hand among those left takes the high.

EXAMPLE BASIC HIGH-LOW HAND

The ante is six chips and the limit, bet or raise, is two before the draw and five after.

First betting interval

  • Player 2 speaks first and bets two chips.  He is thinking of drawing three to his Aces for high.  He could go low by drawing two to A, 4,2, but likes his Aces.
  • Player 3 calls.  He is going high, too, drawing to a pair and an Ace kicker.
  • Player 4 calls.  His idea is to ditch a 2, and hope for an Ace, 3 or 5 to give him a good poker low hand.
  • Player 5 calls.  He is going low and will stand pat on 8, 7.
  • Player 6 calls.  He will ditch his King and hope to complete a straight for high.
  • Player 1, the dealer, doesn’t think much of his hand at all with all this activity, and cannot fold fast enough.

AFTER THE DEAL   Only player 1 has an obviously poor hand the others all have chances for improvement.

THE DRAW
At the draw the pot is 16 chips, with five still in.

  • Player 2 discards his 10,4 and 2 and picks up a pair of 6s and another 10.
  • Player 3 received a 3 and 9 in return for his Queen and 8.
  • Player 4 discards one of his 2s, getting a 5 in return.
  • Player 5 stands pat.
  • Player 6 receives a second Jack for his king.


AFTER THE DRAW  The four players who drew all improved their hands.

Second betting interval

FIRST BETTING ROUND

  • Player 2 has improved to two pairs, aces up.  He checks.
  • Player 3, who might well have folded on the first round, has improved to three of a kind, and decides to bet two chips.
  • Player 4 has a very good hand for low and calls two and raises five (he is hoping that some of the high and low bidders will stay in and boost what he hopes will be his pot).
  • Player 5, who stood pat, decides to call seven and raises five more.  Like player 4, he does not fear players 2 and 3, as their draws of two and three cards suggest they are going high.
  • Player 6, who improved to a pair of Jacks but failed to fill his straight, folds.

SECOND BETTING ROUND

  • Player 2, requiring 12 chips to call, and holding two pairs, folds.
  • Player 3 fears that player 4 or player 4 or player 5 might hold a straight or a flush to beat him for high, but in the hope they are going for low, he puts in ten chips to call.
  • Player 4 feels confident enough to raise again, putting in ten chips.
  • Player 5 now calls for five.

THIRD BETTING ROUND

  • Player 3, with relief, also calls.  Had player 5 raised again, he might well have folded.

Showdown

The showdown is reached with the pot standing at 67 chips.  The three players select chips of each color and under cover of the table put a chip of the required color in one hand and place the fist containing that chip on the table. Simultaneously they reveal its color.

  • Player 3 shows a red chip, and is delighted when the other two poker players show white.  Player 3, with his triple of 3s, collects half the pot, 34 chips (he has the odd chip), for highest hand.  The other two players expose theirs.
  • Player 4 announces 7,6 while player 5 states only 8, 7.  Player 4 takes the other 33 chips for low.  Each has put in 20 chips (including the ante), so player 3 won 14 and player 4 won 13.
  • Player 5, dealt the part hand, is the big loser, forfeiting 20 chips.  Players 2 and 6 have lost three chips each, and player 1, who didn’t bet, only his ante of one chip.

Although this might not be a typical hand, it shows why High-low is popular.  There is plenty of action.  If at the showdown all players still in go for high  and none for low, then the highest hand takes all the pot.  This presents the interesting situation whereby a player who all omaha game has been going for high might find himself in the showdown with one other player who he feels has got a higher hand.  He could therefore elect to go low, and share the pot.  Of course if he is a wrong, and his hand is higher, it would be a hard mistake to overcome as he could have had all the pot.

 

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