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For Love Of The (No-Limit 2-7 Single Draw) Game

by Bernard Lee |  Published: Dec 14, 2022


Bill Potter and Bernard LeeThose people who listen to my podcast, The Bernard Lee Poker Show, are well aware of my love for deuce-to-seven (2-7) lowball, especially the no-limit single-draw version. (Although I have been studying and playing a lot of triple draw in the past few years as well). It’s a game that I’ve written about in columns and even been interviewed for.

Over the years, many poker players have read these articles, sending me comments and expressing interest in the game. These intrigued players all wished that there would be a nearby home game or casino that would spread the game.

However, one gentleman from Connecticut took his interest to the next level. After numerous years of playing no-limit hold’em, Bill Potter wanted to give this new game a try.

“I read one of your columns about 2-7 no-limit and I just fell in love with the game right away. I loved the strategy and the unique aspects of the game. I decided that I wanted to try to run a no-limit 2-7 single draw tournament,” recalled the 52-year-old from Naugatuck, Connecticut.

It was a tough sell. Most players had never tried this “weird” game, that is usually only spread at the highest limits and played by professionals at events such as the World Series of Poker.

“The hardest thing was to convince people to try something new,” Potter continued. “All they knew was no-limit hold’em from television. I tried to recruit players from all the local games and practically begged people to try this other game. Finally, on Oct. 27, 2015, we had 16 people show up to the first 2-7 no-limit tournament. Everybody loved it. We have been playing it steadily ever since. Some players have actually stopped playing hold’em and only come to play 2-7.”

Although the COVID pandemic put the game into a temporary forced hiatus, the eager 2-7 players wanted to resume. About a year after the initial lockdown, the East Coast Lowballers, as they called themselves, were back in business. They even had shirts made up that read “I Was Dealt The Nutz” with the cards 2-3-4-5-7.

For those who don’t know, aces are considered only high and straights (and flushes) count against you. Therefore, 2-3-4-5-7 is the lowest or best possible hand, sometimes called the wheel or no. 1. In fact, in lieu of the common last longer bet, this group adopted a “first to get the wheel” bet.

Recently, the 2-7 enthusiasts have had a bi-weekly $25 buy-in game with a $250 championship event, which was held in November of 2022. I had played in their tournaments in the past but not since the beginning of the pandemic, so I was eager to drive down from Massachusetts to play.

For the championship, the field consisted of 19 players and also had three re-buys. Since this game has been going on a while, the players fully understand the rules. But perhaps some of you reading at home do not.

The game is similar to no-limit hold’em in that there is a small blind, a big blind (who also adds the big blind ante), and there is a moving button. The one major difference is you can’t limp in to the pot predraw, you have to raise.

Each player gets five cards, and a round of betting commences. Any who sticks around then has the option to draw anywhere from one to five cards. Players can also “pat,” which means you don’t take a card and keep what you already have.

Generally speaking, you don’t want to draw more than one or two cards. Sometimes three. I actually saw a player draw four three times in one day, which is ridiculous, but we’ll let that go for now.

After the draw is another round of betting. Since the game is played no-limit, you can bet anywhere from one big blind to everything in your stack. Anybody left gets to show down, where the lowest hand drags the pot.

Of the 16 players who came to the first tournament, seven of the “OG” crew were at the championship game, including Bill Potter, Kenny Lasky, Sean and Cheranne Carlson, John Olson, and Karl Steiner.

 I spoke with a couple of the players before the “shuffle up and deal” announcement to get their thoughts on this unique poker club.

“2-7 is fantastic,” said Sean Carlson from Manchester. “Like most people, no-limit hold’em was my primary game and this was my first introduction to mixed games. I grew up playing poker because of the Moneymaker era having watched poker on ESPN. But I had been playing hold’em for so long that I wanted to try a new game. Now, I would never miss a 2-7 tournament and even played it at the 2022 WSOP.”

“I have been playing Texas hold’em for 20 years, but I really like the draw aspect of 2-7,” said Kenny Lasky from Waterbury. “When I was younger, the first game my dad introduced me and my brother was five-card draw poker. 2-7 brings me back to those younger days and always puts a smile on my face.”

“I believed in 2-7 ever since I read your column and I knew people would enjoy it,” added Potter. “It just took a long time to get them here.”

As for the future of this specific tournament and group of East Coast Lowballers, Potter envisions it continuing and growing. He also hopes the game grows big enough that someday we’ll see it regularly in local card clubs and casinos.

“I think our group has a solid core and will continue to grow. We will evolve with the times and incorporate the new TDA rule which has discarded the “must raise” rule and now allows players to limp.”

As for the tournament, the cards did not go my way as 8-7 was the best hand I could muster all day (I never had a 7 low). Nevertheless, I was able to use my experience, execute a couple of moves and make the final table, bowing out in sixth place (they only paid the top three). Unfortunately, my day concluded when I got short stacked and couldn’t complete my draw to a 10.

In the end, Frank Estes took home the title. On the final hand, Estes raised and his opponent, Brandon Sweet shoved his shorter stack. Estes snapped called and rapped the table, indicating he was staying pat. Sweet took one card to a nine, but was already drawing dead as Estes was dealt a pat eight.

Overall, I think Estes summed it up best after his victory.

“I just love this game!” ♠

Bernard Lee Bernard Lee broke into the poker world after a deep run in the 2005 WSOP main event. He has two WSOP Circuit rings, and is an author, having written for Card Player, the Boston Herald, Metrowest Daily News, and ESPN, where he was a host of the show The Inside Deal. His radio show and podcast, The Bernard Lee Poker Show, recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, and his latest book, Poker Satellite Success: Turn Affordable Buy-Ins Into Shots At Winning Millions, is now available on Amazon as well as D&B Publishing. Follow him on Twitter @BernardLeePoker or visit his website at or YouTube channel at