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29/01/2007 No. 11
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday January 29, 2007

Regular readers might remember me crooning to you, last November: "When you read, you begin with A, B, C; when you sing, you begin with do, re, mi . . ."

Since then, we have been trilling through the do-re-mi of poker: the building blocks of all variants. We have looked at draw games, stud games and flop games. We have fleshed out the difference between hold 'em and Omaha. Last week, we dealt with razz, in which the worst hand wins the pot, ignoring straights and flushes, with aces as the lowest card, so the lowest and therefore best hand would be A-2-3-4-5, then A-2-3-4-6, and so on.

And what do you do, once you know your do-re-mi? You blend them together to make beautiful music. If you mix regular seven-card stud with razz, you create the sweet sound of seven-card high/low split. It does exactly what it says on the tin: splits the pot between the highest and lowest hands.

You need only know three new things to play high-low split. First: aces are now both the highest and the lowest cards in the deck. Second: you can play five of your cards for the high hand, and a different five for the low hand. Third: this game is also known as seven-card stud eight or better. That's because, in a split-pot game, all five cards in your low hand must be lower than nine (no pairs). If your seven cards are, for example, A-A-2-2-4-6-7, then you might win the low half of the pot with A-2-4-6-7 (a "seven low"), and the high half with A-A-2-2-7 (two pairs). But if you're holding A-A-2-2-4-6-J, then you cannot make a low hand at all, and can win only half the pot.

Why will this make for terrific action in your home game? Because with so many cards, and two ways to win, everybody gambles. But you know a secret . . . or you will, if you tune in next week.

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