Introduction to 2-7 Triple Draw
These days, No Limit Holdem is by far the most popular variant of poker. This series is all about showing some love for poker’s forgotten gems. When you play 8-Game on PokerStars – a mix of eight different fun variants – 2-7 triple draw is the first game in the rotation, so it seems like a pretty good place to start.
How Does it Work?
2-7 triple draw is all about making a low hand. Aces are high and any pairs, straights or flushes will negate your hand. Contrary to NLHE, we are trying to make the worst possible hand in terms of conventional poker hand rankings. In 2-7 triple draw, the nuts is the mighty 75432, with 76432 and 76532 taking the silver and bronze medals respectively.
Players start off with five cards. There are no community cards (flops, turns or rivers) in this game. The blind structure is the same as that of a typical holdem game. There is a round of betting when players receive their starting handsfollowed by the first of three drawing phases where each player can discard between zero and four cards, drawing replacements from the deck. Unsurprisingly, this draw phase occurs three times in a hand of triple draw and there is a round of betting after each draw, making four betting rounds in total. The game is usually played as a limit game. The bet doubles after the second draw for the last two betting rounds.
Rough Hand Rankings at Showdown
Generally, any made 7-high (often referred to as a ‘seven’) will have an excellent chance of winning at showdown. The best made eights like 85432 and 86532 are also incredibly strong hands. A bad 8 like 87653 is usually somewhere between a very thin value hand and a bluff catcher by showdown. A made 9 is normally the best hand at showdown in a heads-up pot but will really struggle to bet for value against most opponents. A Ten or a Jack is still a slight favourite to be good against one opponent at showdown but is nothing more than a bluff catcher. Queens and Kings have a little bit of showdown value as they beat hands that either hit an ace or paired up on the end. Ace-high, pairs and worse are considered pure air.
Drawing smooth means drawing to a hand that will be strong if you get there. A smooth two card draw, for example, is something like 742KQ or 8322Q. There is no chance of making a straight with these hands and any hand you make by showdown will be very powerful. Contrast this to a hand like 865AA or 76566. These two-card draws are called ‘rough’ and are liable to sometimes make straights (which is a disaster remember) or to make a dominated hand on the end. You will save a lot of money by ensuring that you are not entering a pot against a strong range with a rough draw and avoiding multi-way pots with these hands where a more nutted hand is required to win.
The Power of the Jack
The made Jack-high is the magic hand to remember with one draw to come because it is a slight favourite even against a very strong draw like 7642A. For this reason, if you suspect that your opponent is still drawing it is correct to bet and then stand pat (draw zero cards) with a Jack or better. As tempting as it may be to chase that elusive monster, a disciplined player will always play the odds here.
Position is Powerful
It is possible to call a wider range BB vs SB in a three-way game than it is to call HU in these same positions? Why, because in a heads-up game, the BB is out of position to the SB. Acting last in triple draw is arguably even more powerful than in a game like limit holdem because not only do you see your opponent’s betting before you have to act, but also the number of cards he draws before you have to make that same decision. Imagine that you are sat there with your J8642 with one draw remaining. Out of position you are on a complete guess here. You have no idea whether you should break your jack to try to make a bigger hand or stand pat and hope to hold up against a drawing hand. In position, however, you get to see Villain stand pat first in which case you can draw as long as you believe that he has a jack beat, or alternatively, if he draws, then you can take none and know that you are a favourite to scoop the pot.
We shall end with a more advanced play which works very well against unsuspecting opponents. Snowing means standing pat without a made hand and then bluffing to represent a made hand on the next betting round. It works especially well when you have drawn very badly and have few chances of winning the pot by drawing on. Let’s say that you open the BU with 852xx and draw two, picking up a 2 and a 5. Your hand is now 85522. You still have a two-card draw, but less chances of making it now. Moreover, you have picked up two cards that your opponent very likely needs to complete a strong hand. We would refer to your extra 5 and 2 here as ‘blockers’ because they block your opponent from completing his own draws.
By taking none here occasionally, it will be quite conceivable that you have just drawn a strong made hand. Your opponent will need to think twice about continuing with less than a premium drawing hand or strong made hand. Snowing works especially well in heads-up pots where there are less strong hands to evade. This is a play amateur 2-7 triple draw players rarely make and so it can easily catch the field offside.
How do I Get Started?
You can find pure 2-7 triple draw tables in the PokerStars cash games lobby, but if you’re interested in mixing it up with a variety of new games – many of which will be covered in this series of articles, then check out 8-Game which you can find under ‘Mixed Games’ in the lobby.
See you at the tables!