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2-7 Triple Draw Lowball: Questioning Doyle?

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Feb 08, 2023

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Doyle Brunson Credit: WPTIt was quite disappointing for all mixed-game enthusiasts that PokerGO failed to air the $10,000 Limit Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Lowball (27TD) Championship event from the 2022 World Series of Poker. However, for those of you interested in games other than no-limit hold’em, you will probably be interested in Dolly’s Game, a mixed cash game series available in the PokerGO archives.

In this article, we are going to examine a $400-$800 hand from Dolly’s Game contested by Anthony Alberto and Doyle Brunson himself. While it seems like a relatively simple hand, it does highlight some important principles.

Anthony opens from the hijack with 2-6-7-8 and Doyle defends the big blind with 2-3-8. Doyle draws two and Anthony decides to take one card.

Whether Anthony should draw one or two cards is an interesting and close decision.
The hot and cold equities against an opponent drawing two are often very close, and against Doyle’s specific hand, 2-6-7 and 2-6-7-8 have equities of 53% and 54% respectively. However, when Anthony only draws one, he has increased fold equity on the turn since Doyle needs to improve over the course of the next two draws in order to remain in the hand. Assuming Doyle requires at a minimum a one-card draw to a nine-low or better to continue on the turn, he will be folding after the second draw around 15% of the time.

The downside to drawing one is that it caps your best possible final hand to a rough eight, a holding that has some reverse implied odds and less value betting and raising potential. However, since drawing one will slightly increase your odds of winning the hand, it is probably the slightly better play and this is what Anthony chooses to do.

On the first draw, Doyle improves to 2-3-4-8 while Anthony did not get help. Doyle check-calls Anthony’s flop bet.

This action was standard for both players. Anthony failed to improve, but was a card ahead going into the draw, and Doyle’s only play is to call as he is behind a pat hand or a clean draw to a seven-low.

Doyle makes 10-8-4-3-2 on the second draw and leads out.

My apologies to the legend, but this is a somewhat debatable play. Obviously, it’s good when Anthony is still drawing and Doyle gets to charge him as the favorite. And Doyle’s bet may also get Anthony to break a pat nine, which would be a great result.

However, one problem with the lead is that a pat ten is usually a slight underdog against most one-card draws that have two attempts to complete its draw. The reason Doyle has to consider the probability that his hand holds up over the course of two draws is because he’s betting when he doesn’t know the outcome of Anthony’s second draw.

Therefore, Doyle’s turn bet is getting the money in with slightly the worst of it, and it might also get raised, further diminishing its value. Anthony would probably raise any 8-6 or better low, as well as some premium draws to a seven that would put Doyle in a really tough spot.

Another problem with leading 10-8-4-3-2 is that your opponent can just call and pat either a rough eight or smooth nine as a “freeze.” Freezing is a position play where someone just calls with a pat hand that is often best for the dual purpose of saving money in case they are behind, and to also give their opponent the impression that they are still drawing.

This will often induce the first player to pat many worse hands, thus ensuring the second player the pot. And that is exactly what happened here.

Anthony made 8-7-6-5-2 on the second draw and just called Doyle’s turn bet. Doyle patted his ten low, and Anthony ended up stacking the chips.

Instead of leading out, Doyle could have instead checked the turn with the intention of breaking when facing a bet, or patting if the street got checked through. Playing in this manner would have given him a 21% chance to win the pot, and also the opportunity to get in a value bet on the river when making an eight.

Had Doyle checked and called Anthony’s turn bet there would have been $4,600 in the middle, and 21% equity against that is $966 ($4,600 * 21%). Then we must also consider the value of the potential missed river value bet that Anthony is almost always calling, which is approximately $168 ($800 * 21%).

While the line Doyle took also would have netted him a few hundred dollars in expectation, his decision to lead probably cost himself around one big bet in expected value.

Of course, this is somewhat results-oriented in that it only considers the specific holdings that each player actually held, and as previously mentioned the lead can accomplish some good things. However, losing one big bet in expectation is a pretty big deal in a limit game, and Doyle can also get raised and be forced to put in two bets drawing slim, or potentially dead.

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to lead made tens with good draws underneath as getting frozen with hands such as the one Doyle had here or something like 10-7-5-3-2 is quite a bad result. As a default, we should only lead nine-or-better lows and some select tens that don’t really “mind” getting raised or frozen. For example, 10-8-7-6-2 should bet the turn as its drawing dead to a value raise and often has few or no outs against a freeze range.

Position is extremely important in 27TD and this hand highlights yet another reason why that is the case. We are forced to check many of our made tens resulting in either a free card for our opponent, or possibly breaking the best hand in the face of a bet.

That’s just the price we must pay as there is no strategy to overcome the positional disadvantage. The only thing we can strive to do is minimize the cost, or with rougher draws such as 3-7-8, not even defend the big blind to begin with and opt not to pay it all. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. The certified personal trainer owned a gym in New Jersey, but has since moved to Las Vegas. He started playing the game back in 2003, and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. Learn more or just say hello with an email to haneyk612@gmail.com.