In the second part of ?our series looking at lesser-known poker ?variants, Chris Hall ?examines Deuce-to-Seven no-limit Single Draw
2-7 NL Draw is an action-packed game for gamblers. Here’s how it works…
1. Each player gets five cards and has to make the worst poker hand possible (straights and flushes count against you and Aces are high). The nuts therefore is 7-5-4-3-2, known as ‘Number 1’ or sometimes ‘a wheel’. This is followed by 7-6-4-3-2, 7-6-5-3-2, 7-6-5-4-2, 8-5-4-3-2 and so on.
2. Tables can hold up to seven players, with the same blind structure as Hold’em. Each player receives five cards and there is a round of betting, after which the players involved can discard any number of their five cards in exchange for new ones. It is very rare for anyone to discard more than two cards. If you start with a made hand you can ‘stand pat’ and not discard anything.
3. After the discards there is a second round of betting. This is similar to after the river card in Hold’em, with players being either forced to show their hand or winning the pot without showdown.
As a general rule, you don’t want to be drawing more than one card in 2-7 NL. Drawing two cards to something like 2-3-7-x-x isn’t great because you won’t make your draw often enough for it to be profitable, and when you do your hand is very transparent and unlikely to get paid if you raise after the river.
Having four cards to a ten is usually a pretty good start, but an important rule to remember is that any pat Jack is the favourite over any one-card draw while any pat Queen is a favourite over a two-card draw. At the same time, one-card draws versus each other are usually pretty close. For example, if you hold T-6-4-4-2 and dump the four against a Q-8-5-3-2 which discards the Queen, you’re only a 44% underdog.
Therefore you can see that position is a major factor on whether or not you should break your hand, and like Hold’em it is better to play tighter out of position. With position, you’re able to stand pat with rough Jacks and even Queens if your enemy is drawing. Crucially, 2-7 NL is also an incredibly high variance game, as the edges between many of the one-card draws are barely past coinflip territory so you should expect swings akin to PLO.
Sometimes you will start with a pat hand, which should always be played aggressively pre-draw. A common error is to overvalue very strong one-card draws and put too much money in before the draw against a pat hand where you will be the underdog. Certainly at lower levels, if you start with an 8-7 or better, or sometimes even a good nine, you should be prepared to get as much of your stack in as possible before the draw.
After the draw it can often be difficult to ascertain where you stand in the hand, especially out of position. If you raise in position with a one-card draw to a nine and your opponent calls but stands pat, you can assume his most likely holdings will be pat tens or maybe strong Jacks. When out of position, you have no such information. Even if he raps pat after you’ve drawn and then puts in a bet if you check, it doesn’t tell you anything.
After the draw, you should always be looking to bet your nine-highs or better, though how you do so is entirely player-dependent. Say you’ve made a nine against a player who just called your raise in position but then rapped pat after you drew – chances are that he has a hand only good for showdown and won’t bet if you check, but may call a bet if he thinks you are bluffing.
On the other hand, say you call a raise when out of position drawing to a nine, and you make your hand against a player who stands pat. If he’s loose and aggressive, checking here is much more profitable, as you give him the chance to bluff or value-bet worse hands. Betting a ten-high is more difficult. Out of position it’s often easier to check-call, while in position weak tens can also usually be checked back, especially if your opponent drew one and you rapped pat, as he will tend to check-call a lot of tens anyway that will beat you and fold Jacks or worse.
Bluffing is an important factor in 2-7 NL, simply because it’s very hard to know if and when your opponent actually has a hand and you get no extra help, unlike in PLO or NLHE. Beginners though, should generally stick to playing their cards at first before attempting to bluff, which is important, but only as important as selecting the right opponent to bluff.