Five Card Draw

How to Play Five-Card Draw

Five-card draw is the poker game just about everyone learned to play as a child. Despite the popularity of Texas hold’em, five card draw games are still available online and at casino poker rooms. If you’re new to poker, you might find it easier to learn to play draw poker than it is to play community card games like Texas holdem and Omaha.

Five-card draw gets a bad rap because it is seen as a simplistic game for kids. But there’s plenty to learn from five-card draw, including the subtleties of bluffing and getting in your opponent’s heads.

The Basics

Unlike Texas holdem, five-card draw does not have community cards. All the cards you hold should remain hidden from the other players.

Another difference between five-card draw and Texas hold’em: five-card draw uses ante bets instead of blinds. All players pitch in a small wager on every single hand in order to build the pot. Money changes hands in every hand, even if everyone (but one) folds on the first round of betting.

Five-Card Draw Deal

At home or in private games, one player serves the role of the dealer per hand. Usually the dealer role rotates from one hand to the next in a clockwise fashion around the table. In the casino or at a tournament, you’ll have a dealer who’s an employee of whatever establishment or casino is putting on the event.

In five-card draw, the dealer deals out five cards to each player at the table. Those cards are not dealt out five at a time to each player, but one-around-the-table. Therefore, you’ll deal a card to the player at your left, then one card to the next player, and so on. This takes five full revolutions around the table, so that everyone has five cards when the deal is finished.

Five-Card Draw Betting

Once you’ve seen your cards, players have a chance to bet. Betting begins with the player to the left of the dealer. Everyone gets a chance to call, raise, or fold. If a person raises the bet, all other players must call that bet to remain in the hand. If they refuse to call, they fold and are out of the hand. Instead of call a raise, you can also choose to re-raise. This goes on until every player has either called or folded.

Five-Card Draw – Discarding Cards

Once everyone has their cards, players can look at their cards and decide which cards to keep and which to discard.

In some variations of five-card draw, you can only discard 3 or less cards, unless you’re holding an ace with the 5th card. In other variations of the game, you can dump all 5 cards if you want.

Poker Hand Rankings

The idea is to build the best hand according to a ranking of the card hands. These include the card ranks starting at 2-10, then jack, queen, king, and ace. A pair beats any high card. Two pair beats a pair of any card, even aces. Three of a kind beats two pairs. A straight beats a 3-of-a-kind, while a flush beats a straight. A full house beats a flush, while a four-of-a-kind beats a full house. A straight flush beats 4-of-a-kind, while a royal flush beats any other hand, including the regular straight flush.

Drawing New Cards

Once you’ve decided which hand you want to build and you’ve discarded cards accordingly, the dealer deals everyone a new set of cards up to five. This represents the last chance you have to improve your hand.

The 2nd Round of Betting

Once everyone has seen their cards from the re-draw, one more round of betting occurs. This works just the same as the first round of wagers. Players can raise bet to force other players out of the hand or require them to pay to see their cards. When the bets are finished, if two or more players have called the final bet, you have the showdown. Each player’s hand is shown and they are compared against the card ranks.

Five-Card Draw – An Example of Play

For these hand examples in five-card draw, I want to take this from a 1st-person perspective of a player. So let’s assume you are dealt an K-K-10-6-2 with these cards of four different suits. In this basic hand, you would want to discard the 10-6-2, because you want three chances to hit a third king. You discard those three cards and ask for three more.

The dealer deals you 3 more cards and they are a K-9-6. Your hand is a strong K-K-K-9- 6. With three of a kind, you dominate any non-straight, non-flush, or four of a kind. Since those are uncommon hands, you’ll probably bet pretty aggressively. Betting is much different in five-card draw, though, because you have less information than you do in Texas hold’em. In hold’em, you have community cards, so you already know what up to 3 of your opponents’ cards are. That’s not the case in draw poker.

That means you have to read your opponent and get an idea when they bet aggressively and what pushes them out of a pot. Your opponent started with a raise on the draw, so you can imagine they began with a solid hand. When they re-raise on the re-draw, that should tell you they must have hit something further on the re-draw. That could mean they were drawing to a straight or flush and hit it. That could mean they had two aces and hit a third. Each of these would beat your hand.

Most players are going to play strong with a 3 of a kind, so you bet. If they hold a straight or flush or set of Aces, you just have to accept that you sometimes get beat on a hand. But they’re hold a set of queens and you give them a beat they won’t soon forget.