Like the name indicates, dramaha is a combination of five card draw and Omaha. It may sound like a weird game that your drunk friend made up, which might be how it started, but the game really works and most mixed players find that it’s a ton of fun. Very little has been written about dramaha strategy, but the basics will go a long way if you follow the advice below for lower limit games.
There are some variants, but in this article we’ll be referring to the “standard” version of dramaha, which is 2-7 lowball in your hand and Omaha high on the board. Let’s start with the mechanics of how the game works before we get into the strategy.
The rules of deuce to seven dramaha
Dramaha is a flop game, so it uses blinds just like holdem or Omaha. Each player is dealt five cards and then there is a preflop round of betting. Then there is a three-card flop and another round of betting.
Once flop betting is complete, there is a draw round. When done correctly, the players slide out the cards they are discarding and the dealer will burn a card, place the turn card, and then collect the discards and give the players their new cards. There is only one draw, and the rest of the game plays out like a standard flop game with a round of betting on the turn and another on the river.
After the river betting is complete, all remaining players show down, with the best five card 2-7 lowball hand getting half the pot and the best high Omaha hand getting the other half. It is possible for pots to be chopped multi-way, but less common than in Omaha high-low.
Preflop strategy for dramaha
Like most high-low games, playing primarily for the low is correct in dramaha. This means that you should be looking for good 2-7 hands. It helps if these hands include suited cards, especially seven through ten. Since players are looking for good lowball hands, a nine-high flush will often win the high side, while in a regular Omaha game a flush below ace-high is often second best.
A few examples of playable hands include any made ten-low or better, any four cards to a ten-low or better that include a suited card with the ten or or a nine and don’t have a straight draw, or any draw to an eight or seven low. Three card hands are often playable if they include flush draws and good low draws.
It can also be helpful to have partial straight draws in your hand. 9543 has a lot of ways to make a straight on a low board, while 9832 makes a lot less straights on the board and will sometimes lose to a better nine-low if you catch a 7, 6, 5, or 4.
The low hand requirements are much weaker than they would be in deuce to seven triple draw because there is only one draw, and more in line with no-limit single draw hands.
Any high-only hands should usually be tossed in the muck, and two card hands, even a deuce and a seven, should also be mucked in most cases because it is hard to make a solid hand with these holdings when you only have one draw. Hands that include three low cards should be played very carefully, and only if they are quite strong.
Dramaha drawing strategy
While the flop is the big turning point in holdem or Omaha, the draw is even more important in dramaha. Making the right decisions about which cards to throw out is vital to beating these games. Remember that the deuce to seven hand is the most important. If you are keeping cards that will leave you with a high hand, you are conceding the low half and drawing to only half the pot.
Unless you flop a monster high hand that is virtually guaranteed half the pot, you should be happy to break up your Omaha high hand to draw to the low side in your hand. An ace-high flush with a hand like AJ943 might be best played as a high hand, hoping that the board doesn’t pair, but a king-high flush or worse should be broken.
If you have a hand like a jack-high flush, you may wish to draw to a jack low with a hand like J9942, because a jack-low will sometimes win and the jack high flush is still quite strong.
Drawing to your low hand in ways that increase your chances of winning the high will usually be obvious. If you have a hand like 86632, and one of the sixes is a diamond with two diamonds on board, you should make sure to keep the diamond and hope to catch a low card that is also a diamond which gives you a good low hand and a flush draw.
The same is true with straight draws. If you have 34567, you don’t have a low hand because of the straight, so you must draw. While you would usually throw away the 6 because it gives you the best chance to make the best low hands, the flop may change this. On a flop of K34 you should break your two pair since it is usually not going to win for high with all of your opponents playing low cards, and throw away the 4 to keep your straight draw as strong as possible.
If the flop includes two low cards, your opponents are very likely to have pairs and straight draws for the high side. If it does not, and doesn’t have two suited cards, then a very weak hand will often win the high side.
Playing the turn and river
Once you have completed your draw and seen the turn, you have most of the information you will ever have. The river may matter, but in many hands it does not change the outcome of the hand. If you have a strong lowball hand, a nine-low or better, even without any draw to the high, you should be willing to put in multiple bets. An eight or seven low in this game is very strong.
If you have a very strong high hand, but a weak deuce to seven hand, you’ll have to think about how often your high hand is the best and whether you might be quartered, chopping the high side with another player. This happens most often with a low straight on a board that includes three low cards. If you may be quartered, and have no chance to win the low side, put in as few bets as possible or fold your hand.
Remember that everyone is probably going for the low side, so a ten-high flush with a made ten-low is very strong. Against one opponent you can’t lose both directions unless the board is paired. Anyone with a bigger flush would need to have a worse low hand than you have, so you can put in bets without fear.
You should be very careful playing draws in dramaha, because you will be facing strong made low hands too often when you put multiple bets in the pot. Don’t raise a draw on the flop, even if it is both directions, unless all your draws are strong. A six-high flush draw and 9874 is just not strong enough to raise because if you are reraised you could be way behind in both directions. If you are facing a 96432 with a nine-high flush draw, you are in big trouble and will almost never get any of the pot.
This is the reason that ten-high and even jack-high low hands can work preflop. The big card can make you a strong high hand while the low hand you make can still be a winner if your opponent has made a pair or caught a big card. Combo hands like J6432 can be quite strong because if you don’t need the jack after the flop you can toss it and draw to a strong low hand, while if you need it you could still win the low with your made jack-low.
Have fun and make some money!
Dramaha offers so many challenges, such interesting decision points, that it keeps players interested and thinking. If you like coming up with new strategies and being challenged, you may find that it becomes your new favorite game. And if you like money, even better, because dramaha gives weak players so many opportunities to make mistakes.
Every hand looks like it may have potential both ways if you are an optimistic player who really enjoys playing lots of hands. And many of your opponents, especially at the lower limits, will play too many hands and go too far with them, which can mean a tidy profit for you.
To players who have never played the game, it may seem like a ridiculous gadget game, or too complicated. If you want to add it to your local mixed game, make sure to explain it clearly, offer a few strategy tips, and mention that it is played in some of the biggest mixed games in the world right now.
Here’s to hoping that dramaha becomes a stable in mixed games. The poker world could use a little more fun and a way to mix it up beyond just playing holdem and Omaha.