This is a game of draw poker in which nothing differs from any other
game of draw poker except that the high and the low hands split the
pot. In some high-low games, the ace can be treated as the low card in
a low hand, but these games are rare and I will consider only the game
in which the high hand is reckoned exactly as it would be in any other
poker game and the lowest possible hand is 7-5-4-3-2 of different
suits. Straights and flushes count and must be treated as high hands.
error that a high-low player may make is to treat the perfect low
hand (7-5-4-3-2) as unbeatable. Such a hand is not more infrequent than
a high full house. At least once in the lifetime of the high-low
player, he is likely to hold the perfect low when another player also
holds the perfect low. If the other player is equally ignorant, they
will raise and reraise each other indefinitely, while the high player
simply rides along with a cinch. Eventually they will split half the
pot, having put in closer to one-third of the pot each, and the
"perfect" hand will have wound up with a net loss. I do not intend to
imply that a player with a perfect low should not back it strongly, but
after four or five raises he should become suspicious. At that point,
even if he has another perfect low out against him, if he calls he
probably will do no worse than break even.
high-low draw poker, the low hand will be about the same
as the low hand in low-ball, which is described in the preceding
section. The high hand will be slightly better than the average high
hand in a regular game of draw poker, because there will be occasional
cases in which a player draws to low and gets some freak result that
gives him a straight or flush.
than nearly any other kind of poker, this game rewards the player
who has good judgment as to what the other players are trying for.
Often a player who pairs on a draw to a possible low hand will know
from the circumstances that his pair probably gives him the high hand
and he can stay in or even raise with great confidence.
only reasonable way to approach the game is this: Look at your
hand. Appraise its probable chances of winning for high. Appraise its
possible chances of winning for low. If in either case you feel that
you have mathematically the best of it, •Stay in and play for the kind
of hand that is most likely to win in the category, high or low, that
you selected originally. In this game, you cannot win both high and
low. Let the freak draws take care of themselves, not bothering about
them until you are finished. Almost the only time you are playing both
ways is when you hold a hand such as 5-4-3-2 or 6-5-4-3, which will
give you a probable winning high hand if you hit the straight and a
probable winning low hand if you draw a low card.
as in regular poker, the average high hand is jacks up or queens
up; the average winning low hand is nine high. Almost never is a
two-card draw for low worth while unless you are convinced that all the
other players are going for high and are paired to begin with. In such
a case, a low pair may very readily win low and an unpaired hand is
pretty sure to.