Ace to Five Lowball Rules (A-5 Lowball)
Ace to Five is the oldest form of lowball poker and is available in many formats. Today the most popular format is 7 Card Razz, which is a 7 Card Stud game that awards the pot to the lowest hand based on Ace to Five lowball rankings. In the past, Ace to Five lowball was much more popular in the Draw poker format. In fact, A-5 Lowball was offered at the first World Series of Poker in 1973, and then for 21 consecutive years from 1976 to 1996. It returned again from 2000-2002, was absent from the WSOP in 2003, and then made its final appearance in 2004. Today, Ace to Five lowball ranking is used in Hi/Lo split games and in Razz, while Draw Poker games mostly use Deuce to Seven lowball rules.
The goal of Ace to Five lowball is to make the lowest hand. In this lowball variant straights, as are flushes, are ignored as part of the ranking system. Therefore, the best possible hand is A-2-3-4-5 and the second best hand is A-2-3-4-6. To illustrate hand rankings further, we have listed below the top ten Ace to Five lowball hands.
Top Ten A-5 Lowball Hands
In ranking an Ace to Five lowball hand, the most important factor is the highest of the player’s five cards. For example, 56789 is a nine low and would beat A-2-3-4-T which is a ten low, because even though four of the cards in the 56789 were higher than four of the cards in the A-2-3-4-T, it is the highest of these cards that determines who has the best hand. When the highest cards in each hand are the same, the second card is used as the kicker. The player with the second highest card that is lower would win the pot. If this card is the also same, the third highest card would be examined, so on and so forth until someone has a lower card.
When sitting in a lowball poker game, it is important to know if the game is being played in Ace to Five format or not. If you fail to check, the game might not be A-5 but rather A-6 (rare) which is a game where Aces are still low but straights and flushes actually count as straights and flushes, which most commonly will be 2-7 Lowball. Deuce to Seven is played much differently that Ace to Five, as Aces are ALWAYS high, therefore if you’re drawing to an Ace when mistaking 2-7 lowball for A-5 lowball, you’ll be left in very bad shape.
In live games where players commonly call out their hands at showdown, it is courtesy to call out two cards. For example, a player will turn over his hand and say “8-6 low”, so that if an opponent has an 8-7 low they’ll quickly see they are beat. Another term sometimes used when discussing Ace to Five lowball strategy is rough and smooth. For example, 8-7-6-4-3 would be called a rough-eight, meaning it is likely in trouble if their opponent also has an eight low, and 8-4-3-2-A would be referred to as a smooth low.
A-5 Lowball Online
Today A-5 Lowball is available online only in Razz format, while many sites spread this game the largest and therefore the site with the most traffic is PokerStars.com.
While technically A-5 Draw is offered at Carbon Poker, and other rooms operating on the same network, there is literally no traffic for any of their lowball games. Despite having a rich history of lowball WSOP bracelet winners, A-5 Draw Poker both in single and triple draw is for the most part a game of the past, having been replaced over the past five or six years with its former fierce competitor Deuce to Seven Lowball Draw which is another game offered at PokerStars.com.