Aug 162010

Poker is a game with a lot of variants that suit all different skill sets and different strengths. I tend to be of the group who plays the so called “Other Games” As I have stated once before Texas Holdem is not a strong game for me and maybe it’s not a strong game for some players out there, but don’t let that discourage you from playing poker. Texas Holdem is one part and shouldnt be the only thing in your poker play. I believe that to really sharpen yourself as a complete poker player you should try all the games there are out there. With that said, I’d like to introduce a relatively obscure but good poker game to sharpen certain skills, and that is No Limit 2-7 Single Draw Lowball.

Ok first off, how does it work. NL 2-7 Lowball(Also refered to as Kansas City Lowball) is a seven handed game maximum where the worst poker hand wins. Unlike razz or split pot games, you need to make the worst poker hand in high poker. Straights and Flushes count against you where as in razz they do not. Therefore the poker hand of 7-5-4-3-2 of mixed suits is the best possible hand followed by 7-6-4-3-2 and then 7-6-5-3-2 and so on. Like Razz you evaluate from your highest card down meaning J-T-9-8-6 will beat Q-5-4-3-2 at showdown. In cases where you might have a pair vs another pair K-Q-J-3-3 defeats 8-6-5-4-4. So whoever has the worst high poker hand wins. Kind of a flip flop of conventional poker. A special note. Aces are always high. T-J-Q-K-A is a straight but A-2-3-4-5 is not a 5 high straight. This would be consider an Ace high hand

The structure is the same as NL Holdem/PL Omaha with blinds and sometimes antes. The difference between the games is there are only 2 betting rounds. One before the draw and one after. The betting though is identical to NL Holdem, if you are playing 1/2 2-7 you’re going to have a $1 small blind $2 Big Blind. After the blinds everyone is dealt 5 cards face down. You do not get to see any other cards(Like Community cards such as a flop or up cards like in Stud games). In some tournaments you must open for a raise or fold, in other situations you can limp. Know this ahead of time. After the first betting round, the first to act can elect to stand pat(Meaning to not draw any cards) or can draw any amount of new cards he/she wants to. You can draw one or all five if you want. After the draw players bet again. Once that betting round is complete you go to the showdown and whoever has the worst high poker hand wins.

So now that we have discussed the rules of the game, lets discuss how to actually play it strategically. First off whats important. Like razz, if you are drawing you want to be smooth. If you are drawing you want it to potentially become a monster. Hands such as 2-3-4-7-x are great drawing hands where as 9-7-6-3-x are not. The reason being is you can improve to the wheel in the first example whereas you can do at best 9-7 low in the second. While there is no guarntee you will actually get to the hand you want, you should go for the best. Another note is be careful with certain draws. 7-4-3-2 all of one suit loses value since some of the low cards you need will make you a flush. Hands like 3-4-5-6 are also bad because the deuce or the seven will make you a straight. Do not treat these hands as extremely powerful drawing hands because they can make unwanted high hands.

Perhaps one of the most important skills you need is how to play position. The button has a tremendous advantage as to how to play his/her hand because of seeing how many people are drawing, how many cards they are taking, and what the betting action is. Suppose you have a guy who opens to $8 in a $1/2 game and you hold T-8-7-5-4 on the button. You call and your opponent draws 3 cards. You know that the player has taken 3 cards and it would be wise to stand pat with the ten low due to the fact it is mathmatically very difficult to not pair cards or have a card not containing a jack, queen, king, or ace or a worse ten. Now suppose he stands pat, you can go ahead and break the ten knowing that most likely a ten is no good at showdown and draw to the 8 low. This is just an arbitrary example, but this kind of information is very big on the correct way to draw or not draw at a hand.

Another tactic is everyone’s favorite in poker, the bluff. Lets say you have a total garbage hand of K-Q-Q-5-3. What you can do from early position is raise and then stand pat with the intention of raising again. This puts your opponent on the defensive and may force your opponent to fold a wide range of hands. This tactic is useful in some spots but do not overdo. This leads to my next point

Reads and tells. This game for a good reader in poker is a gold mine. An astute player once getting a good line on a player can really use the power of no limit to quickly figure out is a player bluffing to much, is he timid and I can stay pat with any holding knowing he will fold. Can I value bet more often knowing he missed his hand or can I fold with ease say a 9 low because my read indicates he made a strong hand. Because you do not see cards such as a flop, you have to get a good reaction in a live game on how a card affects a player. Reading a player in a live game is a huge advantage in knowing whether you are good or not.

More tips for success.

1. Value bet every time. Because you only have 2 betting rounds, you cant slow play hands. Try to get action on your strong hands when you can especially pre-draw because limping and then having your opponent draw and miss will not make you as much money as a raise pre-draw, this may also be an indication of strength

2. Nine and Ten Low hands (If Smooth) can be winners. Dont be afraid to pat in position with these hands. Because of the limited about of time it’s difficult to come up with a hand and these hands frequently win. Don’t get out of control, but you can defend with these type of hands to keep a player honest.

3. Another key is make your opponent draw. Constantly checking, drawing and folding when you miss is not a winning strategy. Letting your opponent continuously draw the cards is a winning strategy. A lot of cards can brick an opponent. A lot of cards can brick you. Draw sucker Draw is a common phrase, let that sucker be your opponent

4. Never draw more than one card except in limped pots where you are in the blind. It is difficult to get the one card you need in one shot. To get 2 in one shot is even more rare. Players will give you little credit for hands and you may be forced to fold or make a hard call with a middle strength hand even if you do make it

5. Dont be an idiot, use common sense, if it’s raised and reraised and you dont already have a strong pat hand GTFO of there.

6. Stay patient, its difficult to make hands when drawing one and even more difficult to be dealt pat eight lows or better. Dont overjuice the pot when its unneeded.

7. You’re rarely going to play monster pots where you get it all in with a 7 low and beat an 8 low. Value betting hands where you get paid off is where you make a profit. This makes 2-7 a good game for a patient grinder.

8. Always be changing your gears. Dont get too passive or aggressive. And stay focused on your opponents line as this really is the only indication you have on your opponents holdings.

9. Moving in on a one card draw is reserved for tournament play. Trying this in a cash game is way too risky. Try to avoid moving in on a smooth 1 card draw in cash. Against 1 card draws in for all the chips, with smooth Queens and Jacks it’s best to discard the Queen or Jack and draw lower. With a smooth Ten and with any nine low its best to stay pat. With a rough ten its about even whether to break or not.

Currently the only places to find 2-7 Lowball are as part of the mix in large cash games, 2 tournaments annually held at the WSOP, or on the online site PokerStars. The range of players you will meet in these games goes from very dangerous sharks to completely clueless. You can identify quickly though at least online who the sharks are. Players with more than one 2-7 game going in a search are usually sharks. Always a good idea to note your regulars as they more likely than not have a good understanding of the game. The guys you havent seen ever showing up at a table more likely than not are taking a shot and these are the guys you profit from.

2-7 Lowball rewards the very cream of the crop. The bracelet winners of 2-7 are a who’s who of poker which includes Phil Ivey, Barry Greenstein, Erik Seidel, Mike Matusow, Jennifer Harman, and Freddy Deeb. So if you are looking for a little change in your poker game, or want to polish your position play and reading skills for holdem, No Limit 2-7 Single Draw is a very good game to play. If you have any further questions, you can request me as a facebook friend. and leave me a message. Anywho, I hope this helps I’ll make more guides on the Non-Holdem guides soon.

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