More to Poker than Hold'em Part 3: Stud Hi-Lo and Five-Card Triple-Draw Lowball

Erick Lindgren
Erick Lindgren playing Stud EB.

Part three of a three-part series. Now that you're familiar with Omaha, O8, Stud and Razz, we can move on to Stud Hi-Lo and Five-Card Triple-Draw Lowball.

The final two games I'll be showcasing in this article are the two games least often spread. The first game is one of the hardest games to play, while the second is rare for different reasons.

Stud Eights-or-Better

Also known as Stud EB and Stud Hi-Lo, Stud Eights-or-Better is one of my personal favorite games to play.

The Basics

The game plays the same as Stud. Everyone antes, the low card brings and you get three cards off the deal. The difference in Stud EB is the same as between Omaha and O8, where the qualifying low hand wins half the pot.

As in O8, the low is made up of the lowest five-card hand, all cards being below eight in value, with no pairs. Straights and flushes do not count against you, making the nut low A-2-3-4-5.

Freddy Deeb won the $50,000 buy-in WSOP H.O.R.S.E event in 2007.

Basic Strategy

If you remember in O8, you always wanted to be playing for the high, with a redraw to the low. Stud Hi-Lo is the opposite. You want to play for the low, with a redraw to the high. As I explained in O8, it's easy to get quartered for half the low pot by playing exclusively low.

In Stud EB, it's much easier to discern if you have the winning low than the high. You use the same technique as you would in Razz, and read the other players' board cards. Also, the low card is forced to bring in Stud. If you're dealt three to a bike, you have the chance to complete, adding money to the pot with well on the way to half the pot.

You have to correctly gauge your own hand, and pit it against your opponents' hands. Who's chasing what? Who's on the high, and who's on the low? Whom can you beat? You want to play the low, and hopefully pick up a high along the way.

The beauty of hitting the wheel is it can be good for both the high and the low if no one can beat the baby straight.

Starting Hands

Starting hands for Stud EB are the same as both Stud and Razz. A monster Stud starting hand can be good for the high, while a monster Razz starting hand is good for the low. The best are hands with the option for scooping, making A 3 2 the best possible Stud EB starting hand.

Five-Card Triple-Draw Lowball

The Basics

Five-Card Triple-Draw Lowball (TDL) is a lot like the poker we played as kids, or see on some old cowboy movies. You start by being dealt five cards, all face down. You have a betting round starting with the person to the left of the big blind.

After the first betting round you get to throw away as many cards as you'd like. After you get new cards to replace the ones you tossed, you have another betting round starting with the player to the left of the button.

You do this until you have thrown away cards three times, or everyone has folded to one player's bet. When all the betting rounds are complete the hands are turned over; the best hand takes the pot. In a game of lowball, the worst hand is the best hand.

Not to be confused with the Lo hand in games such as O8, Razz and Stud EB, TDL is a Lowball game:

  • Aces are high
  • Pairs, straights and flushes count against you

This makes the nut hand in TDL 2-3-4-5-7. For this reason, lowball is commonly called 2-7 Lowball. Hands are still counted from the top down, making the nut hand a 7-5. As in all other poker games, two identical hands split the pot.

Because of the large amount of cards being dealt every hand, this is most commonly a five-person max game, sometimes being spread with six.

Other than in the big game, I've only ever seen TDL spread at the Venetian.

Elementary Strategy

No other way to put it, this game is an action game. You're going to see a lot of bets, and a lot of rivers. There is a lot of luck in this game, with there being a lot of ante-luck as well. Any game where multiple people will bet and call all the way will have a larger element of luck.

The increased luck will increase the amount of gamble that other players are willing to use in their game. This can make the game very profitable to a tight player. If you have a smooth or rough eight, chances are you're going to win. Having the nut 7 low is almost a lock for the whole pot, with a chop a small portion of the time.

When you have a hand as big as this bet the farm. If you play conservatively until you're dealt monster hands, you should be able to make money in this game. If you ever find yourself wanting to throw away four or five cards, what you actually want to do is fold. You should never be tossing more than three cards.

Even tossing three cards is hoping to get lucky. If you're going to push the bet, you want to be drawing one, or two at the most. Remember, you could have 2-3-4-5-A, throwing away your ace to get a two back. With all the luck in this game, expect to see big swings at the table. Play tight and strong and it's a great game to build a bankroll with.


I hope this series will have inspired you to start trying other forms of poker. These are all very good games worth playing. Spending the time to learn the other games can make you some good coin in the long run. Most players these days play Hold'em exclusively. Get a few of them on a table spreading another game, and you'll clean up.

Enjoy the games, and if you have any questions about them, post a comment. I'll be sure to reply; just check back.

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