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Lowball Poker Game

California Lowball - Loball - Low Ball

by Shirley Rosario
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California Lowball
Lowball – A draw game where the lowest five unpaired cards win. Unless special rules apply, the holding of 5-4-3-2-A is the best possible hand.


California Lowball is a Lowball draw game that was common in California before Hold’em was popularized. It is also commonly called “Ace to Five Lowball.” As is the case in most draw games, California Lowball uses a nominal dealer button to indicate who has last action after the draw. Depending upon where you play, you may see some slight variations to the rules. There are generally either two or three blinds used. On rare occasions, antes may be added in addition to the blinds. California Lowball may or may not be played as a “raised blind” game. If it is, players are not allowed to limp in for the amount of the big blind, but are required to raise to double the amount of the big blind in order to enter the pot.

In Single Draw California Lowball, a Joker, or “bug” is often added to the deck as a wild card, which means it plays as the lowest (most beneficial) card you do not already hold. A “must bet sevens” rule is often enforced in Single Draw. This means that if you make a seven low or better, you must bet it. If you check, you will not be allowed to receive any further action on your hand, and your opponents may be refunded their bets after the point of your illegal check. Although your opponents are entitled to a refund if you check a seven low or better, you will not be refunded anything if you check a seven low and lose the hand. This means that it is never a good idea to check a seven low or better if the “must bet sevens” rule is in effect. Generally, check-raise is not allowed in the Single Draw variation.

In the Triple Draw variation of California Lowball, the Joker is generally not used. There are three drawing rounds, which create an additional two betting rounds. The “must bet sevens” rule is generally not in effect in the Triple Draw variation, and most commonly, check-raise is allowed. Occasionally, the dealer will run out of cards on the third draw. When this happens, the discards are shuffled back into the deck to complete the deal. In both games the nut hand is a wheel.

In Deuce to Seven Lowball, also known as Kansas City Lowball, the best hand is 7-5-4-3-2 because aces, straights and flushes count for high.

Also spelled Low Ball, Loball, Lo Ball

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(c) Shirley Rosario

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