The online casino table game known as Draw Hi-Lo (or Draw High Low) is a product designed and developed by casino software firm Betsoft. Draw Hi-Lo challenges the player to bet on whether the next card from the deck will be higher or lower than the previous card. Depending on the rank value of the current card, landing either a Lower or Higher bet can have different odds, so the game rewards players according to escalating payouts.
Our Draw Hi-Lo page is a great guide to learning the casino game. First, you’ll find a detailed rundown on the rules and how to play Draw Hi-Lo. Players are introduced to the game’s odds, probabilities, and optimal strategy when playing Draw Hi-Lo at their favorite online casino.
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Draw Hi-Lo follows the classic table game structure, so you’ll be sitting one side of a table lined with betting areas, while the virtual dealer runs the game from the opposite side.
Draw Hi-Lo online . Near the lower right of your screen will be an array of chips, usually ranging from white $1 to red $5, along with green $25 and black $100 chips. By pointing and clicking, you’ll select the chips you’d like to wager, before clicking on your preferred betting area to complete the process.
The table minimum set on most Betsoft casinos is $1, while the maximum wager for any individual hand stands at $100.
Decks and Card Values
Draw Hi-Lo is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards, and a single deck will be used, rather than the multiple deck shoes used in blackjack and other table games. Once each card has appeared it will be put in a discard pile, and once the deck has been exhausted, the dealer will reshuffle the 52 cards and begin anew.
The standard hand rankings are used in Draw Hi-Lo, so 2’s are valued at 2, 3’s at 3, and so on. Aces are ranked as the lowest card in the deck, while Kings are the highest, so the hierarchy you’ll be using is:
The objective of Draw Hi-Lo is the guess whether the next card dealt from the deck will be either higher or lower than the previous card. Players may also bet that the next card will tie, or exactly match the previous card.
Draw Hi-Lo Payouts
The game’s designers have taken this into account, of course, by implementing an escalating pay table based on the current card’s rank and the relative difficulty associated with each choice. The pay table used in Draw Hi-Lo can be reviewed below:
As you can see, the payouts correlate to the difficulty of landing each choice, so when you see a low ranked card, taking the safe route and guessing Higher pays out relatively little. By taking a risk, however, and guessing Lower, you’ll be rewarded with a commensurately higher payout.
The game’s highest payout of 12 times your ante bet can be earned by taking the longest odds and guessing that an Ace will appear with a 2 showing, or that a King will appear with a Queen showing.
You can also bet that the next card dealt will tie the previous card exactly, and successful Tie bets pay out at 10 to 1 on your ante bet.
Playing Draw Hi-Lo
Place the Ante Bet
Before the first card is dealt, players need to place the Ante bet. It is a mandatory wager, or else the game won’t start.
First Card is Dealt
Once you’ve placed your mandatory ante bet, the game begins with the dealer distributing a single card face up on the felt.
High, Low, or Tie
Now that you’ve seen this initial card, your job is to decide whether the next card dealt will represent one of three options: Lower, Higher, or Tie.
Obviously, when you see a Queen hit the table, the clear choice will be to bet Lower. After all, only four cards in the deck can be Higher (the Kings), so you’ll win an overwhelming amount of times by choosing Lower in this scenario.
Draw Hi-Lo Hand Example
Let’s walk through a few example hands to see how the payout process works in Draw Hi Low.
In this case, we’ll make the standard wager of $5, and the dealer then puts the 6 of hearts down as the first card.
The game is programmed to display the two different payouts possible based on the current card, so on the left side of the screen where the Lower bets are made, you’d see “x 2.00.” This reflects the payout odds awarded when you bet on Lower and land a card lower than a 6. On the right side of the screen, near the Higher betting area, you’d see “x 1.50” to signify the payout odds for guessing that a card higher than 6 will be dealt.
Different Payouts Based on Risk
There are fewer cards in the deck ranked lower than 6 (As, 2s, 3s, 4s, and 5s), the payout for taking this choice is higher (x2 on your ante bet). The payout of 1.5 times your ante for guessing that a card higher than 6 (7s, 8s, 9s, 10s, Js, Qs, Ks) will appear.
With a $5 chip wagered, and a 6 showing, we’ll follow proper strategy (more on this later in the page) and bet that the next card off the deck will be Higher, at odds of 1.5 times. The dealer then slides out the Jack of spades and we win the bet, so our $5 chip is then multiplied by 1.5 (5 x 1.5 = 7.5) to determine the payout of $7.50.
How to Read the Payouts
In Draw Hi-Lo, the payouts are determined on a “for one” basis, rather than the usual “to one” system used in most casino games. If you’re familiar with video poker, the “for one” system is also used in that game. Essentially, this system means that your ante bet is always claimed by the house before your payout is awarded.
So under this example hand, we’ve wagered $5 and bet on Higher with a 6 showing, winning the bet for a $7.50 payout. But when the $5 ante is subtracted, the actual profit you’ve earned stands at $2.50.
Winnings are Re-Bet for You
Another wrinkle to be aware of when it comes to the payouts in Draw Hi-Lo concerns a concept known as “pressing.” Basically, after you’ve won a hand in Draw Hi-Lo, your winnings will simply be added to the prior ante bet and “pressed,” or wagered again. Players have to specifically tell the software that they want to get paid.
Returning to the example hand from above, we’ve wagered $5 and won $2.50 in profit, so our current bet would be $7.50. At this point, you can opt to press the “CASHOUT” button and return your $2.50 in profit to your bankroll. The game’s default setting, however, is to press the bet and let it ride, so unless you click on “CASHOUT,” the $7.50 total would simply be left on the table to be wagered on the next card.
Pressing your bets can lead to increased profits, especially when the deck cooperates and you catch a run of easily guessable situations. One losing hand, however, will result in the entire accumulated wager being lost, so exercise the press option prudently and cash out your winnings when the situation warrants.
Draw Hi-Lo Strategy
When playing Draw Hi-Lo, the goal is to string together several pressed wagers on favorable situations, before cashing out your winnings when the previous card makes guessing a crap-shoot.
Optimal Draw Hi-Lo Decisions
In order to play the game optimally, in terms of exploiting your expected return given any possible situation, Michael Shackleford of Wizard of Odds fame has devised a basic strategy chart for Draw Hi-Lo:
- CO H: Cashout when allowed, otherwise choose Higher
- CO L: Cashout when allowed, otherwise choose Lower
- CO E: Cashout when allowed, others Higher or Lower are equally valid
To read this chart, simply assess the current card’s value and act accordingly. Take note, however, that Shackleford has designed this strategy to exploit the maximum amount of expected value from each decision, rather than simply survive each hand. Thus, when facing a low card like a 4, even though logic would suggest choosing Higher with so many higher cards in the deck, the payout relative to the odds against choosing Lower make that the optimal decision.
This strategy will result in a more volatile gameplay experience to be sure, but if you can stand the swings, the higher payouts will produce more profitable winning sessions over the long run.
Optimal Hand Decision Examples
- When you’re facing a 2 or a 3, the chart advises you to choose Higher, but against a 4 or a 5, the most profitable play over the infinite long run is actually to choose Lower.
- When facing a 6, 7, or 8, the chart advises you to cash out when possible, meaning any hand which isn’t the first of a deck. On first hands when you’re facing one of these marginal values and can’t cash out, just follow the guidelines and hope for the best.
By utilizing this strategic approach, players can create game conditions in which the house edge stands at 3.93 percent. This is on par with most hybrid table games, making Draw Hi-Lo a reasonable option for sharp gamblers who tend to avoid the “sucker” bets offered by every casino.
Of course, this high risk/high reward approach to Draw Hi-Lo isn’t for everyone, and if you prefer to simply stick to the most obvious decision on each hand, you’ll still be able to string together winners until finding an easy cash out spot.
Keep Track of Cards Already Discarded
Finally, as players familiar with blackjack may have suspected by now, you can always try to improve your odds by keeping diligent track of the discards during each deal. Card counting may be frowned upon in brick and mortar casinos, but playing online means there is no prohibition on counting through the deck.
If you’re capable of keeping count and monitoring the card values which have been discarded, you’ll have a better idea of how to make your choices on each new card. This additional strategy actually turns Draw Hi-Lo into a positive expectation game, meaning you’ll face no house edge whatsoever while actually enjoying a slight edge yourself, so, by all means, try your best to incorporate card counting while playing this exciting Betsoft table game.