Card Draw

Five Card Draw is less strategy oriented than many other poker games and it also has very simple rules. These reasons are probably why Five Card Draw is often the first type of poker that people learn how to play. It’s still a very popular game to play at home and it can be found at most online poker sites too.

For many, Five Card Draw is the first poker game that they play. This is probably because it’s one of the easier versions to learn, if not the easiest. There’s also a lot less strategy to think about due to the lack of information you have to work with: there are no community cards and none of your opponents’ cards are exposed. There is some skill involved, but there’s also the element of luck.


Skill in 5 Card Draw

Because of the simplicity of Five Card Draw and the fact that you don’t have as much information to work with as you do in games such as Texas Hold’em or Seven Card Stud, a lot of people dismiss this version of poker as a game of chance rather than skill. It’s definitely true that luck plays a significant factor, but it’s not the only factor by any means.

You are certainly more reliant on being dealt good cards than you are in a lot of other poker variants and your best chance of winning big is when an opponent has a very strong hand and you have a slightly better one. The skill that’s involved shouldn’t be ignored though, and it would be a mistake to play Five Card Draw and rely entirely on luck.

Psychology plays a part as you need to try and analyze your opponents’ betting patterns and see if you can get a read on them. You also need to consider the number of cards drawn by your opponents and interpret that information. If you’re playing live rather than online, then the to read your opponent’s body language is certainly something you can use to your advantage.

There’s no question that Five Card Draw strategy is a less comprehensive subject than Texas Hold’em strategy or Omaha strategy. There’s enough strategy involved in the game to make it worth learning though, particularly if you want to give yourself the best possible chance of winning money.


The Basics

Five Card Draw is played using a standard deck of playing cards. Up to eight players can play but, as it is possible to run out of cards with seven or more players, games are usually limited to a maximum of six. The goal in this form of poker is the same as it is in most others – to win the pot containing all the chips bet in any given hand. A pot can be won by having the best five card poker hand at showdown or by forcing all other players to fold.

In each hand players are dealt five cards to start with. They then have an opportunity to exchange some of them in an attempt to improve their hand. Up to two betting rounds can take place, but a hand can end after the first round if all but one of the players fold.

Hand Rankings

The standard five card poker hand rankings apply in Five Card Draw. If you’re not aware of these rankings then you should use the following table (which starts with the best possible hand) to familiarize yourself with them.

Poker Hand Rankings

Blinds & Antes

Before starting a game of Five Card Draw it must be agreed whether antes or blinds are going to be used. If antes are being used, then each participating player pays a forced bet at the start of each hand. If blinds are being used then the player to the left of the dealer pays a forced bet known as the small blind at the start of each hand, and the player to their left pays the big blind.

The size of any antes or blinds being used must also be agreed. When blinds are used, it’s common for the big blind to be twice the size of the small blind.

The Deal & Initial Betting Round

Once the antes or blinds have been paid, each player is dealt five face down cards. Players can look at their cards and then the first round of betting takes place. If antes are being used then the player to the left of the dealer acts first and if blinds are being used the player to the left of the big blind acts first. Play then moves around the table in a clockwise direction. Please note that the dealer position moves one player to the left at the end of each hand.

During the first betting round players can fold their cards if they do not wish to put any more chips in the pot. Once a player folds they play no further part in the hand. Players can also choose to call, which means matching the size of any previously made bet, or raise, which means betting an amount higher than any previously made bet.

The action continues until all players have either matched the highest bet made or folded. If all players except for one fold then the remaining player wins the pot at that point. If two or more players remain, then play continues to the draw.

The Draw & Second Betting Round

During the draw, the remaining players can choose to swap some of the cards in their hand for new cards from the deck. In most games players can swap any number of cards they choose to but in some games the rules may stipulate that players can swap a maximum of three. The player to the left of the dealer makes their exchange first and play then proceeds around the table in a clockwise direction.

Following the draw, a second round of betting takes place. This uses the same format as the first betting round. Once it’s complete, if there is only one player remaining they win the pot. If two or more players remain, then play continues to the showdown.

The Showdown

At the showdown the remaining players show their hands to see who has the best one. The player with the strongest hand (as per the hand rankings shown above) is declared the winner and is awarded the pot. If two or more players tie for the strongest hand then it’s a split pot and the chips are shared equally between those players.