Low Hand Rankings

High-low split games generally have a qualifier for low. That is, to be eligible to win the low half of a pot, a hand must consist of five distinct cards, none higher than an eight. If any of these five cards are paired, that is not a low hand. Straights and flushes, however, can be disregarded. The best low hand would be A-2-3-4-5, or a "wheel". The suits don't matter. Of the five cards you use to make a low hand, it is the highest of these that determines your hand. So 7-4-3-2-1 would be a 7-low, and 6-5-4-3-2 would be a 6-low. If both you and your opponent have the same high card, you look to the next higest card. in the 7-4-3-2-1 example, your hand is a 7-4. That would beat a 7-5-3-2-1. The lowest hand wins. If you're still having trouble working it out, take the five lowest unpaired cards, and see who has the highest hand. That person loses. For purposes of low games, aces are always low.

Wheel: (Remember that straights and flushes don't count against a low hand.)

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And … There are 56 hands from a wheel to the worst hand that qualifies for low, 8-7-6-5-4 of any suit combination.

What Beats What

Any 6-high hand beats any 7- or 8-high hand.

Any 7-high hand beats any 8-high hand.

7-5-3-2-A beats 7-6-3-2-A

8-7-3-2-A beats 8-7-4-2-A

8-7-6-5-3 beats 8-7-6-5-4

… and so on.

In low-only games, such as Razz, there is no 8 qualifier. If a player cannot make a five card hand with five cards of different ranks, the normal high hand rankings are used, but the lowest-ranked hand wins. For example, if the one player has 5c 5d 6c 6s 9h Qd Qs, his best low would be 5-5-6-9-Q, for a pair of 5's for low. If another player has 2d 3d 3c Td Th Kh Ks, her best low hand would be 2-3-3-T-K, for a pair of 3's for low. The pair of 3's would be a better low than the pair of 5's, since that hand ranks lower as a high hand. Aces are considered low, so a pair of aces would beat a pair of 2's for low. It is possible for a player's best low to be two pair, three of a kind, or even a full house. In those cases, the high hand rankings are still used in reverse, so one pair beats two pair, two pair beats three of a kind, and three of a kind beats a full house. Within each ranking, the hands are ordered as they are with high hands, except that the lower hand wins. For example, 5c 5d 5s 7d 7c would be a better low than 6c 6d 6h 2d 2s. Again, aces are considered low, so Ac Ad As Kc Kd would beat 2d 2h 2s Qd Qh.

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