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I'm reading Sklansky's "Theory of Poker" which states

For instance, if you are playing draw lowball and you see three players calling $10 and then drawing two cards, which is a very bad play

Why is this a bad play? Is it because they are drawing so many cards?

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  • What stakes was he talking about? – Herb Jun 7 '18 at 15:00
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Big pots favor drawing hands, small pots favor pat hands. Typical lowball pots are only 2-3 players, so speculative two-card draws in lowball are usually a bad play. You not only have to make your longshot draw, but you have to have one of the other players make something worth calling you. However, on a table full of loose players where you can expect 4-5 players playing with junk like 8753, 762, 754, or even worse, it can be profitable to play very good 2-card draws like 53A, because you're more likely to get paid off when you do hit.

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I'm nowhere near a lowball expert, but I believe your intuition is right that drawing two cards is poor play because it's simply too many cards to draw. In the situation of 3 players doing it, it's even worse though (without knowing the full context of the situation from the book) because all 3 players are playing a multi-way pot with weak holdings.

The worst of all play, though, is from the 3rd player because they have the knowledge that the other two players are weak and chasing. In other words, the 3rd player would have a good shot of winning by standing pat on a mediocre hand, trying to dodge the other players' draws, or even by drawing one with the intention of bluffing if they miss. Instead they are joining in with a speculative draw which is also transparent to the other players.

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It is (almost) always a bad idea to draw two cards in lowball.

Let's take the case of drawing one card. You have four low cards, throw one high card away. You are hoping that the fifth card that you draw is one of the seven lower cards, and yet does not pair the four that you already have. That mean three "eligible" lower cards Your chances of a successful draw are about 12/47, just about one in four. That is barely good enough odds to draw in most games.

If you draw two cards, your chances of making suitable hand are way worse than one in four, maybe one in fifteen. Those odds are too long.

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