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Go Both Ways

What is ‘Go Both Ways’?

Go both ways is a poker phrase which appears in Hi/Lo (‘High/Low’) poker. It describes the announcement by a player that they will compete for both the high and low pots, rather than declaring one or the other. Not all hands are suitable for going both ways, as some lend themselves to either high or low hands, but there are certain combinations of cards which have a chance of winning both hands at the same time.

‘Go Both Ways’ Explained

In high/low poker games, players aim to make the best hand according to the standard poker table – that is, straight flushes are high and pairs or singles are low. However, the player can choose to build their hand according to highball or lowball rules. This means that they can rank their cards according to the highest values (i.e. 2 through to A) or to the lowest (A through to 2). Aces tend to be high in poker, but in high/low games they are often both high and low at the player’s discretion.

During a high/low poker match, players begin by betting into the same pot. Later in the game, players declare whether they intend to bet for the high or the low pot, and another betting round follows against players who declare the same. The best high hand (e.g. 10-J-Q-K-A) and the best low hand (e.g. A-2-3-4-5) will win the relevant share of the pot.

In the right circumstances, a player can opt to ‘go both ways’ – that is, play for the high and low hands simultaneously. The best hand to do this is the A-A-A-A, which is the highest ranking four of a kind hand possible in either a high or low game and therefore could win both pots at once. The declaration is also sometimes allowed where the player is not forced to make a decision, and where the high/low play is only discovered at the showdown.