Archie Introduction

Archie is a triple draw high/ low split pot game. It is quite an action game and is gaining popularity in mixed games all over the country. The game is played with blinds and is typically capped at six players otherwise you would run out of cards too often.

A pair of nines or better is required to qualify for the high while an eight low or better is needed on the low side. Thus unlike other high/low split games a low hand can scoop the pot if no qualifying high hand is made. When there are two qualifying low hands at showdown the better low will take the pot. If no one ends up qualifying the pot is split amongst all players who remain at showdown.

Since it’s a draw game you could possibly encounter some difficult decisions that are not present in other high/low split games. For example suppose you started with a hand like 2345 and you catch a seven on the 1st draw. Do you keep the low that possibly has a chance to scoop or do you discard the seven and keep drawing? If you were playing Seven Card Stud Eight or Better you could just keep the seven and be in a free roll situation versus a high pair. But that situation does not exist in Archie, nor do you have any chance of making a high hand drawing one to a hand such as 2467. Thus compared with other high/low split games there is a greater balance in Archie between high and low hands.

I’ve inquired how Archie got its name and I heard that there was a fellow in Phoenix named Archie who lost a lot of money playing this newly invented poker variant. So as a consolation prize of sorts the game was named after him. So let’s begin our quest to play Archie better than Archie….

Qualifying in Archie

HandsProbabilityCumulative Prob
Full House or Better0.17%0.17%
Three Kind2.11%2.87%
Two Pair4.75%7.62%

In contrast on the low side you are only dealt an 8 low or better 2.21% of the time. This indicates a possible imbalance in the game geared towards the high side.

You are also dealt a four flush approximately 4.3% of the time. In addition to the flush cards you may also have high cards that you could also pair that would give you a qualifying hand. For example if you held the AK85 of clubs you would have nine flush cards and six pair cards for a total of fifteen cards that would qualify you for high. Assuming that we stop drawing to the flush if we pair either the ace or the king what is the probability of qualifying over the course of three draws?

This is probably easiest to compute if we calculate the probabilities that we qualify on each specific draw. The probability of qualifying on the 1st draw is simply the fifteen cards we need divided by the forty-seven cards left in the deck. In order to hit on the second draw we need to first miss our fifteen “outs” on the first draw. Then we need to hit one of our fifteen cards on the 2nd draw. Thus the probability of qualifying on the second draw would be a multiplication of the probability of missing on the 1st draw and the probability of hitting on the 2nd draw. The calculation for the 3rd draw needs to incorporate the probabilities that we miss on the first two draws but then hit one of our fifteen cards on the last draw. The calculations would be as follows:

Probability of qualifying on the first draw = (15/47) =31.9%
Probability of qualifying on the second draw = (32/47)*(15/46) = 22.2%
Probability of qualifying on the third draw = (32/47)*(31/46)*(15/45) = 15.3%

Since these are mutually exclusive events we can just add them up to obtain the total probability of qualifying over the course the course of the three draws:

31.9% + 22.2% + 15.3% = 69.4%

As previously indicated we assumed that we stop drawing to the flush if we pair either the ace or the king. If the pot is heads-up there would be value in keeping the high pair as you could be up against a lower pair or a low draw.

But most pots in this game are contested multiway and in those situations you should tend to continue drawing to the flush. Especially since you are drawing to a very high flush. In a flush over flush situation you have the boss flush. On the flip side you do not want to draw to low flushes unless you also have a low draw to go with it. Drawing to a lower flush draw in a multiway pot against possible higher flush draws, full house draws, and low draws is a recipe for losing money.

Let’s go through some sample Archie equity calculations and see how various different hands fare against each other.

Sample Equity Calculations

Let’s first assume a three handed pot contested between two pair, a flush draw (without a low draw), and a low hand that does not have a straight draw. This is a “hot/cold” calculation in that we are assuming all hands go to showdown.

Assuming no knowledge of the other cards the two pair hand has four outs and a 23.9% chance of filling up over three draws. The flush draw will make a flush 48.0% of the time and the low will complete its draw 72.3% of the time with its sixteen low cards that will make an eight or better low.

The flush draw will win the high if it makes the flush and the two pair hand does not make a full house. The probability of this occurring is (48.0%)*(100%-23.9%) = 36.5%. Thus two pair will win the high 63.5% of the time. (We are assuming that the flush discards any high pairs and continues to draw to the flush in this three way pot.)

The low hand cannot win the high or scoop because the two pair hand has already qualified for the high so four different outcomes are possible:

  1. Split Pot (Low and Two Pair)
    Low qualifies and Two Pair wins the high = (72.3%)*(63.5%) = 45.9%
  2. Split Pot (Low and Flush Draw)
    Low qualifies and Flush Draw wins the high = (72.3%)*(36.5%) = 26.4%
  3. Two Pair Scoops
    Low misses and Two Pair wins the high = (27.7%)*(63.5%) = 17.6%
  4. Flush Draw Scoops
    Low misses and Flush Draw wins the high = (27.7%)*(36.5%) = 10.1%

Low Equity = 50%*[45.9% + 26.4%] = 36.2%
Two Pair Equity = (50%*45.9%) + 17.6% = 40.5%
Flush Draw Equity = (50%*26.4%) + 10.1% = 23.3%

In this matchup the flush draw is an equity underdog and at first glance it may appear that a flush draw is a “sucker hand” in Archie. But it is important to realize that hot/cold equity is not poker. In reality the flush draw has a few playing advantages in that it can make the flush early and put a lot of pressure on the low hand to fold its equity. Also the two pair hand is often committed to calling after the last draw while the flush draw can simply fold when it misses.

What do the equities look like if we added a lower flush draw to the calculations? The result is quite interesting:

Low Equity = 36.2%
Two Pair Equity = 28.4%
Higher Flush Draw Equity = 26.2%
Lower Flush Draw Equity = 12.1%

The lower flush draw is a big time underdog and also has reverse implied odds. Also notice that the two pair hand performed worse once another flush draw was added. In fact the 12.1% equity for the lower flush was all taken from the two pair hand.

Holding the second best flush draw is a situation that needs to be avoided. Flush over flush happens a lot more in Archie than it does in a game such as Pot Limit Omaha. When you make a flush in PLO you hold some blockers against an opponent having a flush. But in Archie everyone’s hand is independent so when you hold five cards of one particular suit you do not hold any blockers to someone else having a flush. I’ve personally witnessed players cold calling three bets pre draw with a ten high flush draw. This is a major leak.


Archie is a very exciting yet complex game and we have only scratched the surface. Whenever a new game arises on the scene it is highly beneficial to your bankroll to avoid the major leaks while you learn the nuances of the game. Next issue we will continue the discussion by examining in more depth the play of the high oriented hands.