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Deuce To Seven Triple Draw Lowball: Big Blind Defense

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Aug 12, 2020

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In Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Lowball (27TD) we can defend against a single raise somewhat more liberally than from the other positions because of the better pot odds and the knowledge that the pot will be contested heads-up. Getting pot odds of 3.5:1 it may seem as if we should be defending a lot of hands in heads-up situations, however, defending too wide can be a significant leak as there are many other important considerations.

In a game such as Omaha eight-or-better we can defend against an early position raiser with a hand like KSpade Suit JHeart Suit 10Spade Suit 8Club Suit and simply check-fold when the flop has three low cards. However, in 27TD pot odds most often dictate that we should continue on after the first draw even when we do not improve. Thus, we must view the situation more as a two-street decision where in the aggregate we are only getting 2.25:1 pot odds which translate to a breakeven equity of around 31 percent.

While we may have greater than 31 percent “hot/cold” equity against an opponent’s range with many holdings we must also consider the likelihood to realize this equity, positional considerations, as well as possible reverse implied odds.

For example, suppose a player opens from first position in a six-handed game and we defend the big blind with 2-7-8. Getting 3.5:1 pot odds many players consider this to be a clear defend, however, they fail to take into account that they also will in most cases need to call the flop bet as well. (In draw games the round of betting after the first draw is often referred to as the flop.)

Even against a strong opening range the 2-7-8 definitely has higher than 31 percent equity but we must also consider playability. The 2-7-8 is a reverse implied odds holding in that its potential is capped at a mediocre eight low. When we don’t improve, we are in really bad shape and when both players improve, we will often lead and get raised by our opponent who has both position and a nice equity edge. In Omaha eight-or-better we have the ability to flop the nuts or other powerful holdings with mediocre starting hands but that is not possible in 27TD.

The ability to realize our equity is also an important consideration particularly when we defend with a three-card draw (D3) such as 2-7. With 2-7 we also have greater than 31 percent equity against an early position open and it can make very strong holdings; however, the main problem is that against a strong range it will be very difficult to realize our equity enough of the time to be profitable. If you recall an under-the-gun open from a solid player is usually pat or drawing one greater than a third of the time.

With these important considerations in mind let’s take a look at the suggested default big blind defends in heads-up pots.

Heads-up Pots

UTG/Hijack Open: Hero in Big Blind
2347 2356 3468 3478 3678 234 246 347 345 23
2357 2368 3457 3467 4568 237 258 348 367 24
2345 2456 3568 3578 247 268 278 468 25
2457 3458 3567 235 256 358 378 27
2367 2378 257 357 467
2467 2478 245 457 568
2346 2578 238 458 346
2358 2678 236 368
2567 267
248
Re-raise
Call and D2
Call

As usual we should re-raise any holding we choose to play as a one card draw (D1) for both value and to also not potentially divulge any information regarding the strength of our draw. However, for some of the holdings the decisions on whether to play them as a D1 or a D2 are quite interesting and very close.

A draw to a 2-6-7-8 will not fare that well against a range highly concentrated in pats and one card draws. Even when villain is drawing two the situation isn’t that great as we aren’t a huge “hot/cold” equity favorite. While our opponent is forced to improve to realize his equity he has position and will often be constructing smoother hands with implied odds.

Thus the defaults for 2-3-7-8 thru 2-6-7-8 are to just call and draw two hoping to build a strong hand. Early on in the hand out of position against a strong range this seems best especially if you are somewhat new to the game as it will reduce the amount of tricky situations on the later streets.

With 3-4-7-8, 3-4-6-7, and 3-5-7-8 we should draw two to either 3-4-7 or 3-5-7 and go duck hunting. While the opener is a big favorite to have a deuce the lack of other players contesting the pot highly suggests that the deck is richer on average with the remainder. The 3-4-5-7 is listed as a re-raise as it is slightly better but drawing two to this holding is fine as well.

We should call with holdings such as 3-4-7, 3-4-8, and 3-5-7 where we have a premium draw if we catch a deuce and as previously discussed reverse implied holdings such as 2-7-8 should folded. And we should not get involved with three card draws unless are up against a super loose player and hold many pairs.

Cutoff Open: Hero in Big Blind

2347 2356 3468 3478 3678 234 246 347 345 23
2357 2368 3457 3467 4568 237 258 348 367 24
2345 2456 3568 3578 247 268 278 468 25
2457 3458 3567 235 256 358 378 27
2367 2378 257 357 467
2467 2478 245 457 568
2346 2578 238 458 346
2358 2678 236 368
2567 267
248
Re-raise
Call and D2
Call

When the initial raiser originates from the cut-off their range is often significantly wider thus, we should be play more hands as a D1, flat with a wider D2 range, and defend our premium D3s.

Again, some of these decisions are close and up for debate. Due to the ability to significantly increase the quality of their draws the defaults for 2-5-7-8, 2-6-7-8, and 3-6-7-8 are still to call and draw two. However, playing them aggressively as one card draws probably has a somewhat similar expectation.

Button Open: Hero In Big Blind

2347 2356 3468 3478 3678 234 246 347 345 23
2357 2368 3457 3467 4568 237 258 348 367 24
2345 2456 3568 3578 247 268 278 468 25
2457 3458 3567 235 256 358 378 27
2367 2378 257 357 467
2467 2478 245 457 568
2346 2578 238 458 346
2358 2678 236 368
2567 267
248
Re-raise
Re-raise with pair(s) or Call
Call

Versus a wide button range that will contain a somewhat large concentration of D3s it’s almost certainly in our best interest to re-raise and play all of the listed one card draws as D1s.

For the most part we are going to be flatting with our premium two card draws but can work in the occasional re-raise when we hold good blockers. While it’s true we aren’t a great favorite over anything and we are out of position there is some merit to punishing very loose raisers. They may tire of putting in extra money with hands like 38 and fold more buttons which will result in a greater amount of heads-up pots versus the small blind or outright walks.

Also, holdings such as 2-3-7(2-3) effectively block the premium portion of a button range and significantly increases our overall equity. In addition, if we end up bricking out by pairing and our opponent improves to a one-card draw we typically have a very profitable check-raise and then snow option.

Multi-Way Situations

Versus a raise from early position and a smooth-call we must tighten up our range especially with the hands that require a deuce because unless the caller is very loose they almost always have one. For example, suppose UTG raises, the cut-off and small blind call and we hold 3-4-7 in the big blind. While the pot odds are huge and we are closing the action, our hand is quite bad for the situation as most of the deuces are probably busy and the best low we can make without one is 8-7-5-4-3.

Extra callers increase our pot odds, however, with mediocre or rough holdings they are more of a detriment than a benefit. Their presence often indicates that more of the premium cards are gone, it will be more difficult to realize our equity, and we usually have reverse implied odds.

For example, if the cut-off raises and the small blind smooth-calls we should send hands like 3-4-5, 3-6-7, 4-6-8, and 3-7-8 to the muck. While we are getting immediate odds of 5:1 we must also remember that we are often making a two-street commitment.

However, sometimes we must fold the flop unimproved as we can get stuck in the middle with way the worst of it. For example, suppose everyone draws two, we do not improve with one of the mediocre holdings listed above, and the small blind leads. This is a clear fold as the small blind is either drawing one or is pat and there is a player left to act behind us.

Many players leak money in 27TD by defending too loosely out of the big blind due to becoming overly swayed by their immediate pot odds. They fail to consider that the probability of winning the hand is going down faster than the size of the pot is going up as well as potential reverse implied odds. This often results in a stream of very marginal or losing decisions when viewed in totality one’s bankroll would have been much better served just moving onto the next hand. This can happen in any variant of poker but due to the drawing nature of the game is much more prevalent in 27TD. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary of MetLife but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. He is co-owner of Elite Fitness Club in Oceanport, NJ and is a certified personal trainer. With regards to poker he got his start way back in 2003 and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. His new mixed-games website Counting Outs is a great starting resource for a plethora of games ranging from the traditional to the exotic. He can be reached at haneyk612@gmail.com.