Lowball poker - rules and Strategy
Lowball poker is played by a maximum of eight players. Lowball is a variant of Draw in which the lowest hand wins. Each player receives five cards dealt face down. There are two betting rounds. Those players who stay in on the first round have a chance to change or improve their five card hands by replacing none, some, or all of their cards. After players receive replacements (in an exchange known as the draw), there is a second round of betting, followed by a showdown. At that point, the lowest hand among active players (those remaining in contention for the pot) wins the pot. Lowball is not offered by all online poker Rooms.
The betting starts after five cards are dealt to each player. At this point, there is a round of betting. After all bets have been equalized, active players draw to their hands. A second round of betting follows, and then the showdown. (See Winning Hands.)
Check and raise is allowed in all Lowball games on the second round. On the first round, a player, on his turn, must either bet or fold. The maximum allowable wager is always indicated on the Bet prompt and the lowest allowable wager is the default in the Bet window.
When you first go to a table, an information box appears that tells you the name of the game ("Welcome to Draw Low"), the limits (for example, "$4/$8 Fixed Limit Lowball"), the blinds (for example, "Blinds: $2/$4"), and the buy-in (for example, "Minimum Buy-in: $40").
Fixed Limit Games - The software enforces the bet limits, which are determined by the stakes offered at the particular table. For example, at a $$4-$8 table, the limit on any bet is $4 on the first two betting rounds and $8 on the final two betting rounds. Often one bet and three raises is allowed in each individual round. Each bet or raise is at the limit for that round. Thus, the first player to bet in the first round of betting has the choice of folding or betting $4. If someone has made a bet, the next player has the choice of folding, calling the $4, or raising $4 (making the total bet at that point $8). If there has been a raise, the next player has the choice of folding, calling the $8, or raising $4 (making the total bet at that point $12).
The house rake is different from casino to casino. Usually though its about 5%, capping at $3, and using a variable rake structure.
Posting to Enter a Game
New players can enter a game in the big blind position to avoid paying the new player post, which is equivalent to the big blind. A new player can choose to post the equivalent of the big blind to enter the game at any time except when he is between the button and the big blind position. A returning player who has missed the big blind or small blind can choose to post the missed blinds and reenter the game, as long as he is not between the button and the big blind position. A seated player who has missed the blinds or a player just sitting down can always choose to wait for the blind, that is, sit out until the blind gets to him.
The Draw cards are dealt in a specific order and betting also takes place in a specific order. The order is as follows:
Blinds - The small blind is a forced bet made by the player to the immediate left of the dealer button (when you are viewing the table from behind the button). The big blind is a forced bet made by the player to the immediate left of the small blind.
Small Blind - In our Lowball game, the small blind is a bet equal in size to one half the game's minimum bet, rounded down to the nearest unit. (For example, in a $4-$8 game, the small blind is $2.)
Big Blind - In our Lowball game, the big blind is a bet equal in size to the game's minimum bet. (For example, in a $4-$8 game, the big blind is $4.)
Missed Blinds - Players are required to post the small blind and the big blind once per round or their equivalent upon reentry to the game if the blinds are missed. The software will prompt you if you have missed one or both blinds to put in the correct amount. You can also wait for the blind to get to your position. This is called coming in on the blind. (The term also applies to when you first sit down.) (Also see "Posting to Enter a Game" above.)
First Round - After the players in the blind positions put their blinds into the pot, the dealer deals five cards to each player, at which time each player can see his own cards but not those of his opponents. On the first round only, the betting starts with the player to the left of the big blind, who has one of three choices, call, raise, or fold. On the first round only, a player cannot check (make no bet) and still retain his hand. On the first round only, the player in the small blind position acts after the button. The player in the big blind position acts after the small blind.
Raise/Call/Check/Fold - Once a betting round has started you must select one of these options from the popup box that appears when it is your turn. If you choose one of the automatic options, your bet is made automatically on your turn. (See Cardroom Features for more about these options.) If you select Sit Out or you close the window after a round has started, your bet will be considered a fold. If your connection is lost, your hand will be played as an all-in bet. (This feature is restricted to a maximum number of times per day, to prevent individuals from gaining an advantage by purposely allowing themselves to be timed out.)
Option - The player who has the big blind is given the option to raise, check, call, or fold when it is his turn. If no one has raised, the big blind has the option of checking (that is, not increasing the bet) or raising (the prompt says Bet).
Discard - After the first round of betting, active players are offered the opportunity to draw to their hands. That is, they can discard to change or improve their five card hands by replacing none, some, or all of their cards. You are prompted in turn to indicate which cards to keep and which to discard. Click each card you wish to hold (keep). The prompt changes to reflect what your action means. For example, if you click on two cards that you wish to keep, the prompt is Discard 3 Cards on my turn. If that is not what you wish to do, click or unclick cards appropriately until the software shows you discarding as you wish. Each card you click shows a red H in the lower left corner of the card and the card slides slightly downward. To remove the red H from a card, click on the card again before the draw and that card will not be discarded. Those cards not marked with a red H-and remaining above those that are-will be your discards. If you do not click any cards, you are offered these choices: I will play these and Discard All. Again, if that is not what you want, click cards appropriately until the software shows you discarding as you wish. You can speed the game up by clicking the cards you wish to keep before the action gets to you. Clicking the cards does not cause discarding to take place. Not till you actually click one of the prompts offered by the software are your unclicked cards-if you haven't clicked on I will play these-discarded.
NOTE: When you use the disk option (that is, when you are not an avatar) to represent yourself at the table, the red H may be partially obscured at times, but the card still slides down, indicating that it is to be held.
Second Round - On the second round, the betting starts with the first active player to the left of the button, who has one of three choices: check, bet, or fold. Until there is a bet, each succeeding active player has the same choices. Once a bet is made, each succeeding player then has in turn one of three choices: call, raise, or fold.
Showdown - At the showdown, if more than one active player remains, the software displays all hands, and awards the pot to the holder of the lowest hand. If two hands are the same, the software splits the pot accordingly.
In the event insufficient cards remain to complete the hand, the mucked and discarded cards are shuffled and used to complete the hand. Our software is programmed so that, on those rare occasions when not enough cards remain in the deck to complete the deal, a player will not get his own discards back-but he may receive another player's discards.
For example, in a full game with eight players, 40 cards are dealt, leaving 12 undealt cards in the deck. Two of the eight players fold their hands. The first player to act draws five cards, leaving seven undealt cards in the deck. The second player draws four cards, leaving only three undealt cards in the deck. The third player wants to draw four cards. He receives the remaining three cards in the deck.
At this point, the cards folded by the two players in the initial round (10 cards) and the cards discarded by the first and second players (nine cards) are shuffled, and the third player receives one more card from the reshuffled deck. None of the four cards that the third active player discarded are reshuffled, so there is no chance that those discards will reappear in the same hand. Eighteen cards now remain in this deck to be dealt to other players requiring cards, who, similarly, will not get back any of their own discards.
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