Beginner's Guide to 2-7 Triple Draw Lowball Poker

Chip Stacks at Dinner Break in 50K

2-7 Triple Draw - long an under-appreciated gem among poker variations - is finally seeing its moment in the sun.

The nosebleed action has re-gathered at the 2-7 tables and poker's stars are diving in full force, be it Gus Hansen, Phil Galfond, Phil Ivey, Viktor Blom, Niklas Heinecker or Sebastian Ruthenberg.

Since the game is on the lips of everyone in the poker scene these days PokerZeit's Rainer Vollmar introduces you to this action-packed game and gives you a couple of useful hints for starting out.

Read the basic rules of 2-7 Triple Draw here and read on for a closer look at the betting structure.

Phil Ivey
Everybody's playing it now; some always have.

By Rainer Vollmar

2-7 Triple Draw is usually played as a fixed-limit game so, just as in Limit Hold’em, there is a small and a big bet. These are twice the blinds and denote the name of the game.

That means in a 50c/$1 game the blinds are 25c/50c and the bets are 50c in the first two betting rounds and $1 in the second two betting rounds.

If you’ve never played limit poker, you might need some time to adjust to the different betting structure.

Every hand is limited to four bets, which dramatically lowers the fold equity.

Another important distinction - you're looking for the lowest five-card hand possible, not the highest.

Starting Strategy

As in all other poker games two factors are essential for your strategy: position and hand range.

Let’s start out with position. Apart from the information we get from our opponent betting or not, we get added information from the number of cards our opponent draws. This is only the case in draw poker.

This second part of information can be extremely valuable. If your opponent stops drawing (he “stands pat”), it usually means he has a made hand – unless, of course, he’s bluffing.

If, on the other hand, he draws three cards he is far away from a made hand.

To find his proper hand range is a lot more difficult. But your first basic rule should be to never draw more than three cards - two, if possible.

The Final Table
As with most games, position and hand range are key.

These are the top six starting hands:

  • 1) 2-3-4-x-x
  • 2) 2-3-7-x-x
  • 3) 2-3-5-x-x
  • 4) 2-4-5-x-x
  • 5) 2-4-7-x-x
  • 6) 2-5-7-x-x

Which brings us to the second basic rule: Good starting hands have a “2” in them.

Hands with a “3” as the lowest card – like 3-4-7-x-x or 3-5-8-x-x – are playable to steal or defend the blinds.

Of course, the number of players in the hand is also significant.

Be careful with hands that contain a “6”. That’s your third rule. The problem with these hands is you can easily get in trouble by building a straight.

Look at a hand like 3-4-5-6-x. At first glance, this looks like a pretty good hand although it is actually terrible, as both the deuce – the lowest card in a game of triple draw, as the aces are high – and the seven make a straight, which would count against you.

Daniel Negreanu and J.P. Kelly
As Limit master Daniel Negreanu knows, any player drawing to beat you must pay the maximum

Every straight with low cards must contain a six, which is why you should try to avoid this card.


Limit poker is a lot different from other poker variants in several respects. Two of them are high pot odds and low fold equity.

Let’s illustrate what this means in practice:

In a 5oc/$1 game, Player A raises to $1, the small blind folds and the big blind calls. There's now $2.25 in the pot.

Players draw, the big blind checks and Player A bets. Now the big blind raises to $1 and Player A calls.

There's now $4.25 in the pot. Players draw again and now the big blind bets out.

Even before the third and last draw Player A gets 5.25:1 pot odds – unthinkable in a No-Limit game.

What this means is that Player A can assess the strength of his hand pretty well and thus decide if a call is correct.

Also the big blind has a lot less fold equity than in a No-Limit game; in other words it's much harder to bluff.

In practice, you should always bet with your good hands. Any player drawing to beat you must pay the maximum.

Hands at Showdown

The special appeal of 2-7 Triple Draw is contained in the relative value of different hands.

It happens very often that two or more players draw three times so that in the end no player quite knows where he or she stands.

Of course if you hold the nuts - 7-5-4-3-2 offsuit - you do, but then that doesn’t happen very often.

As a general statement you can go with the rule that an eight-high or nine-high hand heads-up is in most cases good enough for a showdown.

Viktor Blom
2-7 has the action to draw the high rollers in.

Of course, a hand like 9-5-4-3-2 is a lot more valuable than a hand like 9-8-7-5-3. On the hand-ranking list for 2-7 Triple Draw, the first nine-high hand is number 19, while the second one is only in 48th position!

Bluff catchers are ten- or jack-high hands – in case your opponent has a hand like 8-7-4-2 and is drawing for a six, five, or three, he will often end up with a high-card hand (queen, king, or ace high) or even a pair, which are both very weak hands.

On the river – or after the third draw, in this case - you are always faced with the question of betting one more time or not.

If you have a monster – 7-5-4-3-2, 7-6-4-3-2, 7-6-5-3-2, 7-6-5-4-2 – you should always bet. If not, this well-known rule of thumb applies: Bet if a worse hand than yours can call you.

If this is not the case, you should switch to check-call mode and hope that your opponent is going to bluff.

A Game of Action - and Luck, Short-Term

These guideline are more than enough for you to start out.

Try to get a little practice in and you'll soon get a feel for this fashionable poker variant.

Next you'll be able to start developing strategies on your own, like how to pull a bluff on someone.

2-7 has a lot of action, is fun and depends a lot on luck – short-term. Master it and you can bank on some pretty decent returns.

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