What Is Lowball Poker?


What Is Lowball Poker?


A 2 of spades and a 7 of diamonds on top of scattered, black, blue, and green poker chips.

What Is Lowball Poker?


A 2 of spades and a 7 of diamonds on top of scattered, black, blue, and green poker chips.

Poker has been played for hundreds of years, and over time there have been many exciting variants of the game that offer fun, new twists on the classic game, both in offline and online poker formats. One of the more unusual variants that players enjoy is lowball poker. Carry on reading to learn about this different take on the poker experience and how to play it.

Understanding Lowball Poker

What is lowball poker? Lowball poker, as the name suggests, is simply a poker variant where the usual ranking of poker hands is turned on its head. This means that hands that are typically low-ranking in regular poker games are now considered high-ranking hands. For example, a low poker hand in regular poker of an ace, 2, 3, 4, and 5, could be a winning hand in lowball poker.

How To Play Lowball Poker

Many of the most popular poker variants are community-card poker games, such as Texas hold’em and Omaha hold’em. These are games where players have a few face-down cards and must build a winning hand from a shared pool of visible cards on the table. However, lowball stands apart from these variants by being a draw-poker game. This means players have five face-down cards in their hand and must strengthen it by exchanging cards for new ones. 

As previously mentioned, the goal of this game is to build the “weakest” five-card hand in order to win. The “weakest” hand may vary depending on which version of the game you play.

However, no matter which version you play, the basic lowball poker rules are the same. Before the game starts, you may be required to place an ante or blind bet. After this, each player is dealt five cards, face down. Players must then review their cards and decide whether to wager or to fold. Players who haven’t folded get the opportunity to trade out some or all of their hand for new cards. 

However, here’s where rules start to vary. Depending on which version of lowball you’re playing, there can be between two or four more betting rounds. After each betting round, players get to decide whether they want to bet, swap more cards from their hand, or fold. 

As with any other game of poker, once all the betting rounds are over, the showdown occurs (learn more about poker terms in this glossary). Any players still in the game must reveal their hands during this final phase. The player with the weakest hand wins the pot. 

While this seems pretty straightforward, players should also know that there is a high/low subvariant that changes how the pot is split. Under this ruleset, the highest-value and lowest-value hands split the pot. Make sure you’re not playing this additional twist on the rules to avoid any confusion.

Lowball Poker Hand Rankings

A poker player looks at their five-card poker hand. They hold an 8 of spades, a 7 of diamonds, a 5 of hearts, a 4 of spades, and a 2 of clubs.

As discussed earlier, lowball flips players’ expectations by declaring the player with the “weakest” hand as the winner. However, this doesn’t line up exactly the way it does with regular poker hand values and poker hand names. For example, a single low card in poker would mean disaster, but that doesn’t mean a player wins in lowball. There’s a specific winning “weak” combination, but these can vary depending on the variant that you play. 

Here are some of the hand ranking methods used in different variants and how they affect the value of different cards:


Ace-to-five lowball is used in California lowball. The lowest winning hand in this variant is ace, 2, 3, 4, and 5. This hand is also known as a wheel or bicycle. A joker is often used in this variant as a wild card. This means that it can substitute for any card that makes your hand weaker.


Ace-to-six lowball is used in London lowball. The lowest winning hand in this variant is ace, 2, 3, 4, and six. Similar to ace-to-five, a wild card is also available in this game. 


Deuce-to-seven is used in Kansas City lowball. The lowest winning hand in this variant is 7, 5, 4, 3, and 2. This is also sometimes referred to as the wheel as well. A wild card is not commonly used in this variant, but if it is used, it works the same as with other variants.

Play Poker Online at Borgata Online

If you’re ready to join in some exciting virtual poker games, you’ll find them at Borgata Online. Borgata Online offers thrilling cash games and online poker tournaments, with games available in the popular Texas hold’em and pot-limit Omaha formats to cater to all types of players. Cash games are available to play 24 hours a day, seven days a week, while tournaments vary from daily, to weekly, to monthly showdowns for serious players to put their poker skills to the test.

Register at Borgata Online to join in on the best virtual poker action.