Chasing for the Low End "Escape" in Seven Stud High Low Split - Qualify

Here's a decision that comes up all the time in Stud High Low. . .

You find yourself on fifth street with two cards to go. You have four cards to an average or "rough" low and are heads-up against a high hand. Should you fold and quit right there, or try to escape with a low hand for a split to get your money back? This is a typical example.

Your Hand (top) Opponent's Hand (bottom)

4 Cards to a Low Hand vs Apparent High Hand
  • Game type - $1/$2 limit
  • Fifth street, before betting
  • Your bets so far - $2
  • Opponent's bets so far - $2
  • Folded players' bets - $2
  • Total pot so far - $6*

* To keep this simple, the antes and the rake sort of cancel each other out and are ignored.

Here is a look at an approximate profit/loss comparison between folding and drawing.

To Fold here on fifth street you lose your bets made so far = ( - ) $2

To Draw and Miss will cost bets made so far plus $2 on fifth and $2 on sixth streets = ( - ) $6

To Draw and Make Low will get you half of a $18 pot that includes the
$6 starting pot on fifth street plus two $2 bets, then two more on sixth, then
two more final $2 bets. This makes an $18 total pot. Your half will be $9.
When you deduct the $8 you invested in the hand, you have a one dollar profit = $1

When you decide not to fold and to draw for low, it's important to know about how often you can expect to make a low hand and how often you can expect to miss.

Assuming normal distribution of the unseen cards that contain "helpers" that are the low cards that will not pair the lows that you are holding, and "no-helpers" that are high cards and cards of the low denominations that you already hold, you will average about one third helpers and two thirds no-helpers. Two draws at the one third helpers will make a low hand just a little more than 50% of the time. From this we can conclude that in this case it is better to fold on fifth street because:

Drawing for Low will average per hand about ( - )$2.50 . . (compared to only ( - )$2 when you fold)

So there you have it. Under the common conditions used here, you are better off folding on fifth street than chasing for the low end split.

However, there are other game conditions where in the long run, you will come out ahead by drawing twice to catch an unpaired low card for the only low hand. This is mainly where there are two or more other players competing all the way for high. When this happens you can split a larger pot that is mostly OPM (other people's money).

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