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Ace to Five Triple Draw Lowball: An Introduction

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Aug 09, 2023

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Ace-to-Five Triple Draw Lowball (A-5) is a relatively straightforward poker variant; the best hand is A-2-3-4-5 and neither straights nor flushes count against you. Essentially it is the same game as Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball (Deuce or 2-7), but with different hand rankings:

2-7 A-5
1 7-5-4-3-2 5-4-3-2-A
2 7-6-4-3-2 6-4-3-2-A
3 7-6-5-3-2 6-5-3-2-A
4 7-6-5-4-2 6-5-4-2-A
5 8-5-4-3-2 6-5-4-3-A
6 8-6-4-3-2 6-5-4-3-2
7 8-6-5-3-2 7-4-3-2-A
8 8-6-5-4-2 7-5-3-2-A
9 8-6-5-4-3 7-5-4-2-A
10 8-7-4-3-2 7-5-4-3-A

The ace is the best card to be dealt, but it is not nearly as important as the deuce is in 2-7. Three wheel cards without an ace is often a playable holding, even from early position. Equities run close, and as in all draw games, position is highly beneficial.

A-5 is not as prevalent in mixed games as 2-7 is because it’s considered less complex. This is mostly correct, at least from the surface. When compared with 2-7, there’s a lot less snowing or semi-bluff turn raises where the goal is to get your opponent to break or fold.

In 2-7, marginal one-card draws, particularly those that can make straights, are more incentivized to turn their hand into a bluff. Whereas in A-5, since straights don’t ruin your hand, players with holdings such as 3-4-5-7 are often content to simply draw and hope to make a hand that can win at showdown.

Semi-bluff raises in an attempt to get your opponent to break are less frequent in A-5 since it’s not often the case an opponent has a holding that will want to break.

Suppose that after two players drew one on the second draw, the first player’s turn lead with 7-5-4-3-2 gets raised. Against a common value range of made sixes or better, breaking this hand and drawing to 2-3-4-5 doesn’t make much sense.

Making the worst six (6-5-4-3-2) usually won’t help, and only one of the remaining aces (that may be in very short supply) will save the day. Versus an aggressive opponent the best play is usually to stand pat and hope that your opponent is making a move, even though that is rarer in A-5. Folding to the raise can even be considered against a tight straight-forward player.

We should only consider breaking when we have a premium underlying draw to either A-2-3-4 or A-2-3-5, those that can make the strongest of hands. Against a probable pat hand in A-5, players aren’t often raising good sevens for value; therefore, it’s imperative to have the ability to make a nutted hand.

In the same situation in 2-7 where two players drew one on the second draw and the first player leads with a made hand, it’s more often the case that a raise can get the bettor to break. In 2-7 most players start out with the key deuce in their possession, and are thus more likely to have a holding that can break and have plenty of outs to overcome an ‘8-6’ or better value raising range.

Since raises are usually given more respect in A-5, we can possibly use that to our advantage, and target an opponent marked for a weaker holding. For example, in a side cash game at the WSOP, I open-raised the button with A-2-5 and received a call from the small blind. The small blind drew one, indicating to me that he probably had a rough one-card draw to a seven such as 3-4-6-7. He would have most likely three-bet with a one-card draw to a six or better, thus his unbalanced passive play gave his hand away.

My opponent led out on the flop and even though I had improved to an A-2-4-5, decided to just call. He patted and in that moment I got the sense that the pot was probably going to end up going in my direction one way or another. My plan was to raise the turn regardless of my catch, and put my opponent to the test with a weak pat hand, one that cannot be broken.

Even though the pot was relatively small, my turn raise would only need to work around 32% of the time to show an immediate profit. And in totality it needs to work less often than this since it’s virtually never getting three-bet, and when my opponent calls, I should have plenty of outs against his mediocre holding. In addition, when making my hand I can get called on the river, and would even seek this value with 7-5-4-2-A.

I caught a pairing ace but it didn’t matter as my opponent’s hand hit the muck before I finished putting out the raising chips. It helps to have the tight image that I do, but my opponent did himself no favors by highlighting the fact that he had a less than premium draw and becoming a target.

Ace-to-Five is a very worthwhile variant to add to a mix as there’s more play to it than what may initially appear and has its own nuances. The fact that it’s another one winner game to add into split-pot heavy rotations is also good.

On a personal note, this game has gotten me unstuck and then up big many times. Most of us have certain games that we feel good about it, both in our decisions, and the ability to run good at the right time, and Ace-to-Five Triple Draw is certainly it for me! ♠

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.