The Beat: Origins of Poker; Obscure Forms of Poker Part 2
In this edition of The Beat we continue our look at obscure forms of poker. The poker world has heard of lowball. Many famous poker players play the game regularly and at the WSOP every year. In fact, the most famous of all lowball players and perhaps the greatest of all time, Billy Baxter says it is even more difficult to master than the popular hold ‘em. However, have you ever heard of 3-card low draw?
What in the world is 3-card low draw?
This is a game that was developed in home games around the U.S. as an alternative to other poker variants of low poker, primarily 2-7 lowball and triple draw. The exact origin is unknown. The game started with each player being dealt 3 cards. Then there was a round of betting. Next, there is the first drawing round in which a player may discard any, all or none of their cards. If a player chooses to draw none, it is considered standing pat. After the drawing round there is another round of betting. After the 2nd round of betting there is one last drawing round, same rules as the first draw. There is one more round of betting and the cards are revealed. The player with the best low hand wins the pot. In low poker the worse the hand, the better or the lower the hand, the better is the proper term. In 3-card low the Ace is always low and never high, similar to the old A-5 Lowball that used to be played at the WSOP in the 70′s. Flushes, straights, pairs etc. count against you. So the best possible hand is A-2-4 of at least one different suit. This hand is also known as a “pup.”
Strategy for 3-card low draw:
Basic lowball rules and strategies apply with a few exceptions. Remember, in most lowball games the Ace always plays high, but in 3-card low draw it always plays low. Because there are only 3 cards to play, the range of hands that can win is rather high. Consequently, the range of hands you can play is also increased, but beware. Position is the most important thing in poker and that goes double (maybe triple) in lowball poker. In this game you have two chances to draw to a good hand. In 2-7 single draw drawing to a jack-low or 10-low can win you the hand, but in triple draw they are no good and rarely win. That is unless you play your position and pay attention to the amount of cards your opponents are drawing. The same goes true for this variant of lowball. Pay attention to the competition and if they are drawing none or 1 each time, then most likely you are up against a good hand. In lowball it is best to play your best in late position and stay out of the early position pots. In 3-card low draw that is especially true since there are 3 rounds of betting and 2 draws. It is a fast paced game with many possible hand variations, mostly played limit or pot limit. Could you imagine no-limit? Bombs away low-ballers, bombs away!
Mike “Daggum” Krisle – Beat Writer – AGP