What is ‘California Lowball’?
A lowball is a type of draw poker, in which the player with the lowest hand wins the pot. A California lowball, however, is an ace-to-five lowball that includes a joker card. California lowball can also be referred to as an ‘Ace-to-Five Single Draw’. The game shares similarities with Five Card Draw Poker.
‘California Lowball’ Explained
California lowball takes its name from the fact that it was the most popular form of poker played in California during the 1970s.
The objective of the game is to end the showdown with the lowest hand. This is scored using an ace-to-five ranking, simply meaning that aces are low and the value of the cards rises accordingly (for example, the lowest possible hand would be A-2-3-4-5. The next lowest would be A-2-3-4-6, or A-2-3-5-6).
In this game, flushes and straights do not count. As is the case with many other games, the highest-value cards of a hand that is unpaired are compared first. Therefore, a hand containing the cards seven, five, four, three, and two would triumph over a hand containing seven, six, three, two, and ace.
In gameplay, all the players are dealt five cards. Following this, the betting commences. Blinds are then placed, and these count as bets. The initial round of betting starts with the player on the left of the blinds. Then, the players having placed the biggest blinds are permitted to raise when their turn comes.
Following the first round of betting, the surviving players take it in turns (beginning on the left side of the dealer) to discard any amount of cards, which are then replaced by the dealer. It is common in this game – and many other games – not to discard any more than one card.
After this, there is a second betting round. With antes but no blinds, this round is started by the same player who began the initial round of betting. Gameplay continues in this fashion, and is won by the player with the lowest hand in the showdown.