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Ace-to-Five Triple Draw: Post-Flop Play Part 2

by Kevin Haney |  Published: Oct 18, 2023


Ace-to-Five (A-5) is the oft-ignored brother of Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball (Deuce or 2-7). This is understandable considering that Deuce is spread far more often. However, it’s certainly worth the effort to become familiar with some of the subtle differences between the two games.

Suppose that we went into the second draw taking one card to a premium A-2-3-4 holding. Our opponent also drew one and checks the turn, often indicating that he did not improve. In this situation, it’s generally more important to bet in A-5 than it would be in a similar one-card draw spot in Deuce. This would certainly be the case if we have caught some pairs along the way.

For example, A-2-3-4 is around a 57% favorite over 2-3-5-6 when we have seen another ace and a three. In this particular example we have the best possible draw, but could have also confidently wagered with any wheel or smooth six draw containing an ace, especially if we had paired at least once. We often have the best draw, and in a limit game we should press thin advantages wherever possible.

But the main reason we should bet is that our opponent is more likely to check an eight- or nine-low in A-5 then he would with a somewhat comparable nine- or ten-low in Deuce. Your opposition might not be aware of the math and how strong an eight or a nine is in this situation, and/or are generally averse to getting frozen with an underlying draw that could have made a wheel or a six low.

Thus they may be more apt to check made hands of mediocre strength in order to see what we do. And if they do end up breaking a hand such as 9-6-5-3-2 to a bet, it’s quite a good result.

Let’s assume that we are in a 3.25 big bet pot on the turn, and if we check behind our opponent will usually just pat 9-6-5-3-2, in which case our equity with A-2-3-4 is around 42%. This results in a turn equity share of around 1.4 big bets (3.25*42%).

However, if we bet our premium draw and induce a break, our equity goes up to 57%. A turn bet also goes in with this advantage which would increase the expectation to approximately 2.4 big bets (4.25*57%).

Whenever a course of action increases your expectation by a full bet it’s quite a big deal, and inducing your opponent to break also likely increases your expectation on the river betting round as well.

When our opponent checks the turn, what hands we bet and pat is frequently as simple as requiring a low hand one rank smaller than that in 2-7. For example, in Deuce we would bet and pat most (if not all) ten-lows, and that would generally be true with nine lows in A-5.

A nine perfect (9-4-3-2-A) is around a 67% favorite over 2-3-5-6 with one draw to go, but we only have around 55% equity with A-2-3-4, give or take depending on dead cards. However, when thinking about river play, it’s relatively close, thus we can consider breaking the smoothest nines and preserving our implied odds.

We should, however, always pat a hand such as 9-6-5-3-A. We might not have the best underlying draw, thus would be an underdog when breaking, and have less implied odds. With a draw to an A-2-3-4 we are almost always going to be on the right side of any river “coolers,” but that’s not the case with A-3-5-6.

Betting and patting some ten-lows can also be done, especially with holdings such as 10-7-5-4-2 and 10-6-5-4-3. These are somewhat analogous to patting a J-8-7-5-2 low in Deuce.

In fact we should even consider staying pat with 9-6-5-3-A against two opponents each drawing one. We may have around 40% equity in a three-way pot, but can sometimes have less than 33% when drawing. In addition, it’s also possible that one of the players has an eight low or a better nine and is waiting to see if someone bets. Betting your holding with the intention to pat would usually result in someone breaking their hand.

However, it is close because with 9-6-5-3-A we might have the best draw and the ability to make #3 (A-2-3-5-6) or #5 (A-3-4-5-6). But it has to be correct to bet and pat a hand such as 9-6-5-4-2. In these multi-way pots we often have more equity than we realize, as there are undoubtedly a bunch of key outs dead and thus not available to the players drawing.

There is much to think about in A-5, and it’s often incorrect to assume that your experience in 2-7 is sufficient to get you through the rounds. There are plenty of nuances and adjustments to be made, and it’s highly beneficial to spend time away from the table thinking about how these situations change from game to game. ♠

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