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Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Lowball: The Art of Snowing

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Jul 14, 2021

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Snowing is the act of betting or raising, and staying pat with a busted hand with one or more draws to go, in an attempt to get your opponent to fold before showdown. The opportunity cost is a unique feature of draw games, as there’s no equivalent to the play in flop or stud variants of poker.

For example, if you decide to semi-bluff with a flush draw in hold’em, you can win the pot if either your opponent folds or you end up making your hand. Whereas in Deuce to Seven Triple Draw (27TD), your decision to snow will eliminate any chance of making a legitimate hand.

This means that whenever we choose to snow, we should feel that turning our hand into a bluff has a higher expectation than either continuing to draw to our hand or folding to a bet. Some factors to consider when making this assessment include the quality of the draw we would be foregoing, the cards we have seen, and our opponent.

Let’s walk through some examples of various different types of snows that can be implemented.

Gentleman’s Snow

A Gentleman’s Snow is probably the most frequent snow line taken, and it entails taking a single card on the first draw then often patting on the second if we miss. Typically, we are targeting a late position open with a rough one-card draw that can be turned into a bluff when we fail to improve right away.

For example, suppose the button raises, we three-bet from the small blind with 4-6-7-8-X, and then stand pat on the second draw with 4-6-7-7-8.

So why is it called a gentleman’s snow? I’ve heard the description many times, but never the origin of the term. My guess is that it is the most common and believable way to make a strong pat hand as opposed to some more exotic bluffing line that may be considered “un-gentlemanly.”

D2/D2 Flop Snow

This snowing opportunity occurs when we hold a below average two-card draw (D2), hit two pair or trips on the first draw, and our opponent who was also a D2 indicates through their play that they probably did not improve.

For example, suppose we defend the big blind with 4-6-8-X-X against a button raise and both players draw two. If the flop checks through and we hit trip fours, we can consider implementing a snow. Our opponent’s check after the first draw most often means he did not improve, and when we pat it looks like a check-raise that whiffed. If our opponent fails to improve on the second draw, the pot will often be ours on the turn.

D1/D1 Turn Snow

When two players were both drawing one (D1) on the second draw, a check from the first player to act most often means they are still drawing. This allows the in-position player to bet and pat weaker hands, while also providing an opportunity to snow his weakest draws.

When holding a one-card draw to a nine or a very rough eight, we should highly considering snowing, especially when we have paired along the way. This can also be done from out of position, however, since we don’t have any information on whether or not our opponent is pat, the odds of success is considerably lower. Therefore, from out of position we should probably only snow the very worst of our draws (e.g. 3-7-8-9-X), that may not even be profitable as check-calls.

D2/D1 Turn Snow

When one player is drawing two cards on the second draw and the other player only one, the player who is ahead going into the draw has an automatic bet on the turn. Since this player is betting 100% of the time, the bet does not indicate a pat hand and the D1 is most often still drawing.

The D2/D1 Turn Snow is when the D2 either raises or check-raises with a busted hand and stands pat. This is a high variance maneuver and having seen multiple blockers is very important in both increasing your odds of success and ensuring that the play is not run too frequently.

Snowing From The Beginning

Since a hand that is pat from the start usually isn’t that strong, this is not a play that should be run very often. This would especially be the case if we opened from later position where rough nines would be in our range.

Snowing a perceived weaker pat range is more dangerous because in addition to the times our opponent makes a real hand and calls us down, we will also lose whenever he chooses to test our possible weak pat holding with a raise at some juncture in the hand.

However, if we are somewhat worried about balancing our real, initially-dealt pat hands, we should sometimes snow right from the start, and the best hand with which to do this are the times we are dealt trip or quad deuces. Unless we started with a hand such as 2-2-2-4-7 or 2-2-2-2-3, we have a very small chance of making a real hand, making the decision to bluff complete trash such as 2-2-2-9-J from the get-go a viable option.

Important Snowing Principles

As we alluded to above, it’s important to realize that in many of the situations where we think we may have a profitable snowing opportunity, we might also have a positive expectation by playing the hand out in a straight-forward manner. Therefore, we should only choose to snow if it is probable that the bluffing line has a higher expected value than any other course of action that we could take.

If we have a weak hand where calling and drawing is probably a losing play, then we only need to consider whether or not a potential snow has a positive expectation. In this case, we only need to consider how likely our opponent will make a hand with which he will call, compared with the bets that we are risking. Blockers always play a role in how often your opponent will make a hand, but the most important factor to consider is always your opponent and with what range of holdings they will probably look you up with on the end.

If we have the proper odds to call and draw, it is often a mistake to snow any draw that has the ability to build strong hands. For example, we shouldn’t consider turning a hand such as 2-2-2-3-7 into a bluff simply because we have seen many deuces. If there are two or three draws left to go, this hand has too much potential to make a premium holding. A much better candidate to snow would be a holding such as 3-7-8-X-X, where we may have seen two pair or trips of a particular rank.

With rough one-card draws we can target late position raisers where the usual plan is to see if we make a hand on the first draw, and failing that, initiate a Gentlemen’s Snow. However, we should never get into a mindset where we would draw once and then automatically stay pat no matter what card we catch.

For example, suppose we begin with 4-6-7-8-X and catch a queen on the first draw. Snowing a queen low is awkward and sub optimal, especially if our opponent has a somewhat common snow catching strategy of keeping us honest whenever he makes a jack or better low. If that is indeed the case, our bluff will virtually never get him off a better hand at showdown.

Having seen pairs increases the odds of success and also serves as an effective randomizer to prevent us from snowing at too great of a frequency. Whenever we start out with a good two-card draw with pairs such as 2-3-3-8-8 we are initially going to try and make a hand, however, that plan can change as the hand progresses. For example, if we never improve but continue to pair, we can possibly turn our hand into a snow if our opponent is not already pat.

On a final note, it is very important to not overuse these plays as it’s not that hard to defend against an opponent who has fallen in love with snowing. Someone can simply draw to their hand and when missing is getting very good odds on the end to just throw one more bet into the pot and see what you have. However, if we only snow our worst draws, effectively use blockers as randomizers, and overall choose our spots wisely all of this will tend to take care of itself and we will select the proper situations in which to turn our holding into a bluff. ♠

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. If interested in learning more, playing mixed games online, or just saying hello he can be reached at haneyk612@gmail.com.