Introduction to How to Play Five Card Draw Poker 

Five Card Draw is one of the most popular poker variants in the world. Many consider it to be the simplest variant of poker, which is precisely why the game is often played by amateur players at home. The rules are very easy to learn but the game takes time to master. 

That is why there are a lot of professional Five Card Draw poker tournaments organized all over the world. However, the game is not included as a category in the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

The origins of this poker variant can be traced back to the middle ages. Nevertheless, the modern version of the game only began to increase in popularity in the 19th century and was especially popular in the Wild West. 

While Texas Hold’em is often considered the most popular poker variant, this was not always the case. Five Card Draw was once the most widespread poker game in the US and a few other places. Today, you can find it in many land-based and online casinos and indulge in real money gambling.

In this article, we will explain in detail how the game is played and what general rules you need to be familiar with if you want to try playing this game.


Five Card Draw Rules

As we have already mentioned, Five Card Draw rules are simple and easy to learn. If you have played any other poker game in the past, you will get the hang of this one pretty quickly.

Five Card Draw is played with a standard 52-card deck. High cards carry the biggest value and the most valuable card is the Ace. The card with the lowest value is two.

The goal of the game is to create the best possible five-card combination. Here are the card rankings from the lowest to the highest:

  • High card – When there are no specific combinations, the highest-valued card counts.
  • Pair – Two cards with the same value.
  • Two Pairs – Two pairs of cards with the same value.
  • Three of a Kind – Three cards with the same value.
  • Straight – Five cards in consecutive order (e.g. 7, 8, 9, 10, J).
  • Flush – Five cards with the same suit.
  • Full House – Three cards of the same value + two cards of the same value.
  • Four of a Kind – Four cards of the same value.
  • Straight Flush – A combination of a Straight and a Flush.
  • Royal Flush – The best possible Straight Flush (10, J, Q, K, A).

When it comes to the Straight, the Ace can be used at each end of a consecutive order – A, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 10, J, Q, K, A. If two or more players have a Straight or a Flush, the hand with the highest card in a combination wins. 

The same goes for other combinations. If two or more players have identical hands but with different suits, the hand is considered a tie and the pot will be equally split among the remaining players.


How to Play Five Card Draw?

If you want to avoid the depletion of the deck, Five Card Draw is best played with two to six players. In a stripped deck version that only includes 32 cards, up to five players are allowed.

At the beginning of a round, the dealer will give five cards to each player. Everyone puts a nominal amount in the pot known as the ante. There are also small and big blinds, or players who put extra chips in the middle. The position of small and big blinds changes in a clockwise direction after each round.

The player positioned left of the big blind acts first. That is how the action looks like in a typical game of Five Card Draw.

First Betting Round

After the cards have been dealt, a player “under the gun” must act first.  They can choose to call (bet the big blind amount), raise, or fold. The action continues around the table in a clockwise direction until all players bet the same amount. If one player raises more than others and nobody decides to call, that player wins the pot. If not, there is a draw.

The Draw

After the first betting round, each player decides how many cards they want to discard and get new ones instead. You can choose to keep all of your cards or exchange all five if you wish. In some versions, however, in order to keep the deck from running out of cards, the draw is limited to three discards only.

Second Betting Round

When all players receive new cards, a new betting round is ready to begin. The first player left of the dealer starts the action. They have the option to check, bet, or raise. If the first player bets, the next one can either call that bat, raise, or fold. The betting round is completed once all players agree on the same betting amount.

The Showdown

If there is more than one player left in action after the second betting round, all of them must show their cards in what’s called The Showdown. The player with the best hand wins the pot. If there is a tie, the pot is split equally among the remaining players.

Sometimes it happens that a player runs out of chips so they can’t match the bet or the raise. In that case, that player is still in the game and can win a hand, but a smaller side-pot will be created and they won’t be able to win the entire stake.

Tips and Strategies

You will learn how to play Five Card Draw effectively over time, but it won’t hurt to know some tips and strategies in advance.

  1. When a player replaces only one card at the draw, chances are that they are holding a strong hand. However, that can also be a good way to bluff.
  2. When you have a pair, always replace the other three cards, as that will give you a good chance to draw two pairs, three of a kind, full house, or even four of a kind.
  3. Don’t get attached to suited cards. Drawing a flush is rare, so only go for it if you have three or four suited cards at the start. The same can be said for straights.
  4. If you don’t have anything connected, only keep the highest-value cards. That will be an immediate tell that you have a weak hand, but it will raise your chances on the draw.
  5. Work with what you’ve already got. If you have a pair of twos and a Jack, it may be best to get rid of that Jack and hope for trips or better although the Jack is a higher-valued card.
  6. Pay attention to your position. If you’re the first one to play, don’t bet big unless you already have a really strong hand. See how other players react so you can construct your strategy from there.

Variations of Five Card Draw

There are some predetermined rules when it comes to raising and betting. The game of Five Card Draw can be played with no limit, pot limit, or fixed limit. The choice is up to you and your poker buddies. However, if you’re playing online, the rules will already be set.

No limit basically means that you can go all-in at any point during the betting rounds. Pot limit, on the other hand, will limit your bets and raises to the current size of the pot. Fixed limit determines bets by the size of the blinds. The blinds and the limit will increase as the game progresses.


Conclusion

If you want to learn how to play poker, it’s probably best to start with Five Card Draw. The game is a bit simpler than other poker versions, and it’s also great for playing among friends. When you master this version of the game, you can progress to more advanced poker games like Texas Hold’em, Stud, Omaha, or Razz.

Whether you’re a novice player or a poker veteran, Five Card Draw is fun either way. The game requires a lot of luck, but skill is involved as well. You can also find the game online and play against other players from all over the world.