Archie Introduction Part 3 – Low Hands

Last month we discussed the various playable high oriented hands.  This month we will take a closer look at the low hands.

Pat Hands

On the high side you are dealt a qualifying high 27.1% of the time but for low you are only dealt an eight low or better 2.21% of the time.  The cumulative probabilities for the dealt pat eight or better hands are as follows:

Bicycle 0.04%
6-4 0.08%
6-5 0.24%
7-4 0.28%
7-5 0.43%
7-6 0.83%
8-4 0.87%
8-5 1.02%
8-6 1.42%
8-7 2.21%

As you can see dealt pat low hands don’t come around that often and many of them should either be broken or not played at all.  Hands like A2347 and A2457 should typically be broken in an attempt to draw for the wheel or a better low. Pat eights should either be broken or folded pre draw.   Hoping A3578 holds up in a multiway pot can lose you a lot of money.  If you can get in cheap in late position you are better off discarding the seven and eight and hope to catch really good on the first draw.

The only real tough decisions you may face concerning dealt pat lows are the “7-6” hands with no straight draw such as A2467.  In multiway pots it would seem right to toss the 7 and have eleven outs to make the same hand or better.  Heads-up is a different situation.  Against a high hand you cannot scoop but unless a freak event occurs you also cannot get scooped.  Last month a graphic was presented showing that you have a .76% chance of being a dealt a straight or better.  So it’s not like our opponent can just call down the entire way with a weak high all of the time because your hand is almost exactly equally weighted between made high hands and seven lows or better.  Against good four card lows you are essentially even money and are a favorite over the three card lows.

Four Card Lows

Premium low hands would be two way draws such as A♥ 3♥ 4 5, 2♥ 3♣ 4 5, and 3♠ 4♥ 5 6♣. These hands play very well shorthanded or multiway.  Thus your main goal should be simply to get as much money in the pot as you can before the first draw.

The A345 is a monster drawing hand in Archie as it would be if you collected those as your first four cards in Stud8.  The difference between the two games is if you get either the K or the 6♠ as the next card.  In Archie you would want to keep either one of those cards and stay pat.  As a result you now have a one way hand but if the pot was shorthanded you have a greater chance to scoop.  In Stud8 you can obviously keep that card and be in a free-roll situation so the premium two way draws are much more valuable multiway in that game.  In Archie it doesn’t matter as much whether or not the post is multiway however with 3♠456♣ limiting the field is certainly a priority because you would be in danger of losing both ways when you hit a seven.

Hands with an ace and a wheel draw such as A234, A245, and A345 are also very strong and play well shorthanded or multiway.  When playing them multiway you would tend to keep a six if you catch it and hope to snag a sizeable half of the pot being built up by some high hands and worse low draws.  Heads-up they play well because if you are against another low hand you almost certainly have the best low draw.  And when you are up against a big pair or two pair you have low and straight outs.  These hands have a lot of value because you could either pair the ace or hit a gut shot.  Against an opponent also drawing one your optimal play is to keep a drawn pair of aces especially if there is only one draw left.

Any four cards to a six low is also a strong hand though not quite as strong as an ace with a wheel draw.  You either have an ace draw or a gut shot but not both.  The higher ones such as A356 or 2456 may also hold some reverse implied odds on the low side.  Admittedly the difference is small but worth noting because having the second best low draw is not a good position in Archie especially in multiway pots.

Hands like 4567 and even 5678 are precarious holdings in multiway pots but can have a lot of value in shorthanded pots.  If you have the ability to isolate a single raiser pre draw than you should certainly do so.  Smooth calling a raise and allowing a player from the blinds to call with a hand like 2467 or a queen high flush draw can take a lot of equity away from your holding.   These hands play very well heads-up because your equity is usually pretty good no matter what you are up against.  Against high hands like big pairs or two pair you have a lot of outs for the potential scoop or failing that can escape for just the low half.  If you are up against a better low draw your straight outs compensate for being an underdog on the low side.

Weaker lows with no ace or straight draws such as 2457 have little value in this game.  Heads-up against a high pair you have no chance to scoop a pot unless you can coax your opponent to fold at some point in the hand.  Against another low hand you do have a chance to scoop by making a low and hoping your opponent bricks but you are typically a sizeable underdog in this situation.  In a multiway pot your equity share is low and you will also experience reverse implied odds.  Playing these types of hands is a significant leak but one that you will observe often even by players who play other games in the mix competently.

In a three way pot contested by TT99, 2346, and 2457 the equities would be as follows:  TT99(48%); 2346(32%); 2457(20%).  You are not even close to getting your fair share of equity and can easily make the second best low hand with which you will probably call down.

Three Card Lows

Hands such as 2 3 4 are very pretty but are overrated.  You do have nineteen cards that one would consider to improve your hand substantially; the ten hearts and the nine remaining aces, fives, and sixes.  It’s possible to catch gin by drawing two really cards but this is mostly a draw to obtain a draw.  And how much do cards like the 9, T, or J really help you in multiway pots?  You now have a very mediocre flush draw that could be expensive to draw to and might not even be good if you make it.   This hand is definitely one that you should look to play the vast majority of the time but it can be folded if several players ahead of you are already raising and re-raising.  A hand like A♥ 2♥ 4 can withstand more action because the potential flush will be higher.

Three really low cards such as A♠ 2♠ 4♣ can be played in late position if the action is not too heavy in front of you or as a late position open.  You are trying to build a premium low hand but the two flush with an ace does have some value as you could catch two other spades in which case you would possibly abort the low hand and draw to a high flush.  By drawing two you also have the possibility (albeit slim) of drawing aces up.  Having additional possible ways to win is beneficial in all forms of poker.

Three wheel cards such as 2♠ 4 5♣ are less valuable because you do not have an ace nor do you have a two flush.  If you can get in for a limp on the button or for a completion of the small blind you should so in the hopes of catching really good on the first draw but otherwise the hand should be folded.  It’s important to realize that the ace is a key card and in multiway pots many of them tend to be out.

The bottom of the playable three card low range would be three to a six headed by an ace.  They are really only playable only as a button steal, a limp behind on the button, or for a completion of the small blind.  Your hand is more valuable if the other card is low and the ace is suited e.g. A♥ 3♥ 6♠.

Button Open Range

It does not happen that often in the action game of Archie but if the action is folded to you on the button, the following is a reasonable opening range:

High Hands
99+ or better 27.1%
Four Flush 4.3%
Four Broadway 1.6%
33.0%
Low Hands
Made 7 or better 0.8%
Four Wheel 1.9%
Four to a Six 3.2%
Three to Wheel 12.6%
18.4%
Total 51.4%

This is a fairly high raising percentage and one could even add the better three to a six hands headed by an ace.  But if the blinds play well you should probably eliminate some of the weaker hands from the various categories.  The main item to takeaway here though is that more of your playable hands will be high oriented.

Summary

Archie has more of a balance between the low and high hands when compared to other high/low split pot games.  In games such as Seven Card Stud or Omaha Eight or Better you can play more low hands profitably because the board runouts are visible and you can better gauge where you are at in the hand and thus make better decisions. But in Archie all of the cards are concealed so you lack this visibility and as was previously mentioned you can never be in a true free-roll situation.  Thus you must be very selective in your hand selection targeted towards the low side.  Strong low hands do hold a lot of value but playing overplaying low draws is one of the more significant leaks in Archie.