A-5 Lowball is a draw poker variant in which the player who has the lowest ranking hand takes home the pot. Every player gets five cards that make up their starting hands. After the cards are dealt, they get the chance to discard those that are not likely to make their hand strong. After discarding, players have to draw new cards.
Important factors to remember before playing A-5 Lowball
• Straights and flushes do not affect (negatively) the strength of your hand
• Pairs affect your hand
• Ace is always played as the low card.
• The best hand you can make in A-5 lowball is A-2-3-4-5, where the suit is not taken into consideration. The hand is also called the wheel or nut.
• When low hands are compared, the highest card is considered first. For instance, 8-7-6-5–3 is better than 9-7-6-5-3 because the highest card in the former is of lesser value than that in the latter. In the case where the highest card in your hand and your opponent’s are the same, the card lower than it will be considered. For example, if you have 7-6-4-3-2, and your opponent has 7-5-4-3-2, the 7s will be ignored and only the 6 and 5 will be considered. Based on this, your opponent’s hand wins.
Posting the big blind in A-5 Lowball poker
A-5 lowball requires players to post blinds, just as in flop-based poker variants like Hold’em. The key purpose of featuring blinds is to get money into the pot and to encourage players to act. The 2 players seated on the left of the one with the dealer button are the small and big blinds respectively. Action at an A-5 lowball game proceeds the same way as in other poker games – clock-wise, after the big blind acts.
When a player buys-in to an A-5 lowball game, he gets to choose between waiting until the big blind reaches him to start playing, and getting dealt-in at the outset by posting a blind equal to the big blind. After all the players post the blinds, the hand starts.
Dealing of the cards and first betting round
In this game, all five cards that make up the starting hand are dealt face-down. After this, the first wagering round starts. The player sitting on the big blind’s left makes the first move. The actions open to all players at this stage are folding, calling and raising. By the end of the orbit, if none of the players make a raise, the big blind gets to check. This allows him to retain his hand without making a bet, if he chooses. Most A-5 lowball games are played in a fixed limit betting format, so you wager in increments of a limit that is pre-determined and that corresponds to the blinds’ size.
First draw round in A-5 Lowball poker
When the first betting round concludes, the players in the pot get to choose between discarding and retaining their cards. Before you decide what to do with the cards, evaluate their strength and their potential to improve later in the game. Discard the cards that are weak and retain those that are strong. Before new cards are drawn, all players have to inform the dealer how many cards they want to discard. You have to draw the same number of cards you discard. If you want to retain your cards, you should indicate that you want to stand pat, so the dealer knows.
Second and third betting and drawing
The second round of betting starts when the first draw ends. If a player has not wagered before you, you have three options – bet, fold and check. If an opponent has wagered, you can raise, call or fold. The second draw starts when the second betting round ends. The third draw and betting rounds follow the same sequence.
The third draw is the last round where players get to improve their hands. After this stage, the game enters a showdown where players in the hand compare their cards. The player who has the lowest hand wins. In A-5 lowball there is a possibility that a hand may end in a tie. In this case, the pot is split among the players involved in the tie.