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Lowball is draw poker with the lowest hand winning the pot. Each player is dealt five cards facedown, after which there is a betting round. Players are required to open with a bet or fold. The players who remain in the pot after the first betting round now have an option to improve their hand by replacing cards in their hands with new ones. This is the draw.

The game is normally played with one or more blinds, sometimes with an ante added. Some betting structures allow the big blind to be called; other structures require the minimum open to be double the big blind. In limit poker, the usual structure has the limit double after the draw (Northern California is an exception). The most popular forms of lowball are ace-to-five lowball (also known as California lowball), and deuce-to-seven lowball (also known as Kansas City lowball).

Ace-to-five lowball gets its name because the best hand at that form is 5-4-3-2-A. Deuce-to-seven lowball gets its name because the best hand at that form is 7-5-4-3-2 (not of the same suit). For a further description of the forms of lowball, please see the individual section for each game. All rules governing kill pots are listed in "Section 13 - Kill Pots."

Rules of Lowball

The rules governing misdeals for hold’em and other button games will be used for lowball. [See "Section 16 - Explanations," discussion #7, for more information on this rule.] These rules governing misdeals are reprinted here for convenience.

"The following circumstances cause a misdeal, provided attention is called to the error before two players have acted on their hands:

  1. The first or second card of the hand has been dealt faceup or exposed through dealer error.
  2. Two or more cards have been exposed by the dealer.
  3. Two or more extra cards have been dealt in the starting hands of a game.
  4. An incorrect number of cards has been dealt to a player, except the button may receive one more card to complete a starting hand.
  5. The button was out of position.
  6. The first card was dealt to the wrong position.
  7. Cards have been dealt out of the proper sequence.
  8. Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a player not entitled to a hand.
  9. A player has been dealt out who is entitled to a hand. This player must be present at the table or have posted a blind or ante."

In limit play, a bet and four raises are allowed in multihanded pots. [See "Section 16 - Explanations," discussion #6, for more information on this rule.]

As a new player, you have two options:

    To wait for the big blind.
  1. To kill the pot for double the amount of the big blind.

In a single-blind game, a player who has less than half a blind may receive a hand. However, the next player is obpgated to take the blind. If the all-in player wins the pot or buys in again, that player will then be obpgated to either take the blind on the next deal or sit out until due for the big blind.

In single-blind games, half a blind or more constitutes a full blind.

In single-blind games, if you fail to take the blind, you may only be dealt in on the blind.

In multiple-blind games, if for any reason the big blind passes your seat, you may either wait for the big blind or kill the pot in order to receive a hand. This does not apply if you have taken all of your blinds and changed seats. In this situation, you may be dealt in as soon as your position relative to the blinds entitles you to a hand (the button may go by you once without penalty).

Before the draw, whether an exposed card must be taken depends on the form of lowball being played; see that form. (The player never has an option.)

On the draw, an exposed card cannot be taken. The draw is completed to each player in order, and then the exposed card is replaced.

A player may draw up to four consecutive cards. If a player wishes to draw five new cards, four are dealt right away, and the fifth card after everyone else has drawn cards. If the last player wishes to draw five new cards, four are dealt right away, and a card is burned before the player receives a fifth card. [See "Section 16 - Explanations," discussion #9, for more information about this rule.]

Five cards constitute a playing hand; more or fewer than five cards after the draw constitutes a fouled hand. Before the draw, if you have fewer than five cards in your hand, you may receive additional cards, provided no action has been taken by the first player to act (unless that action occurs before the deal is completed). However, the dealer position may still receive a missing fifth card, even if action has taken place. If action has been taken, you are entitled on the draw to receive the number of cards necessary to complete a five-card hand.

You may change the number of cards you wish to draw, provided:

  1. No card has been dealt off the deck in response to your request (including the burncard).
  2. No player has acted, in either the betting or indicating the number of cards to be drawn, based on the number of cards you have requested.

If you are asked how many cards you drew by another active player, you are obpgated to respond until there has been action after the draw, and the dealer is also obpgated to respond. Once there is any action after the draw, you are no longer obpged to respond and the dealer cannot respond.

Rapping the table in turn constitutes either a pass or the declaration of a pat hand that does not want to draw any cards, depending on the situation.

Cards speak (cards read for themselves). However, you are not allowed to claim a better hand than you hold. (Example: If a player calls an "8", that player must produce at least an "8" low or better to win. But if a player erroneously calls the second card incorrectly, such as "8-6" when actually holding an 8-7, no penalty apppes.) If you miscall your hand and cause another player to foul his or her hand, your hand is dead.

If both hands remain intact, the best hand wins. If a miscalled hand occurs in a multihanded pot, the miscalled hand is dead, and the best remaining hand wins the pot. For your own protection, always hold your hand until you see your opponent’s cards.

Any player spreading a hand with a pair in it must announce "pair" or risk losing the pot if it causes any other player to foul a hand. If two or more hands remain intact, the best hand wins the pot.

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