Poker: Luck of the draw pays off for Bill

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SEVEN CARD LOWBALL is an infuriating game, but not without skill. The idea is to catch the lowest cards possible, so the best hand is A-2-3-4-6 off-suit. A 7-low is very strong, and an 8-low usually a winner. It can be very frustrating when you keep getting dealt high pairs or catch good cards to fill a low full house, but that is the game.

Weird things can happen at lowball, as this hand shows. It was played by the ever-popular Crazy Bill, a player who thinks odds are something to do with matching up different coloured socks. In this game, the high card showing has to make the opening bet. After performing this duty, the high card usually drops, but not Crazy Bill.

When Stewie raised the pot, showing 7 as his up-card, everyone else dropped. Crazy Bill took the view that having been obliged to invest pounds 10 on his queen, he might as well call another pounds 100 to get it back. Next card up Stewie caught a 4. Wild Bill got a jack. No matter. Now he called a pounds 300 bet. On the fifth street the picture changed. Stewie caught another 4, to make a pair showing and Crazy Bill got a 5.

(2 6) 7 4 4

(A 2) Q J 5

It is true that Crazy Bill's queen now makes him the low hand. But even with an A-2 in the hole he is still the underdog with two cards to come. So Stewie (who used to teach maths and was renowned as a clever and aggressive player) bet pounds 900 at him. Next card he was dealt an ace to make a 7-low, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Crazy Bill also got a 7, but still had to draw out to win. So Stewie set him in for the rest of his chips. Naturally, Bill called. Stewie got an 8 as his last card in the hole, but Crazy Bill pulled a magic 3, to scoop the pot, A-2-3-5-7 against A-2-4-6-7.

Many people curse their luck when they get outdrawn, but that is the wrong reaction. According to Stewie, weaker players must be made to feel loved and admired, never criticised. If they are given lessons at the table, they may learn to play better and stop making so many mistakes.

On the night in question, the gods of chance were consistent. Crazy Bill still managed to go home a loser, and Stewie got his money back. You can buck the odds some of the time. But if you buck the odds all of the time, you will end up without socks of any colour.