5 Card Draw is one of the oldest forms of poker around. It is very basic and easy to learn, although like so many other versions, can take a long time to master.
Unlike some of the popular versions of poker, such as Texas Hold’em, 5 Card Draw does not have community cards, and no one gets to see any of your cards until the end of the hand.
5 Card Draw can be found on many online poker sites, however, it can be hard to find a game during off-peak hours as it isn’t as popular as versions such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha.
How to Play 5 Card Draw
5 Card Draw uses a single deck of 52 cards. As in most other forms of poker, all cards count at their respective values with Aces counting as either high or low.
Most online sites use the blind structure whereby 2 players at the table pay a forced bet each hand. Please note that in some versions and more commonly when played in a home game, it is played with antes, meaning all players pay a small bet at the start of each hand.
As the blind system is the most common online, this is the one we will be explaining. At the start of each hand, one player is designated as the dealer. You will see a ‘button’ in front of this person to represent the dealer position. Cards are dealt starting with the player to the left of the dealer. After each hand, the disc and therefore all other positions move around the table in a clockwise direction.
Before the first cards are dealt, 2 players need to pay a ‘blind’. The player directly to the dealer’s left pays the ‘small blind’. If you are in a cash game, this amount is the same each hand depending on limits of the table you are at, if you are playing in a tournament, you will see the blinds increase at regular intervals, thus ensuring the tournament comes to a conclusion once it increases to a certain point. The player 2 positions to the left of the dealer – directly to the left of the small blind – pays a big blind bet which is normally double that of the small blind. Players take it in turns to be sat in these positions hence why the dealer button gets moved after each hand. The purpose of these bets is to ensure there is a pot to be won in every hand.
Once these bets have been made, every player is dealt 5 cards face down, ensuring no one else can view them, starting with the player to the dealers left, the small blind.
The first of 2 betting rounds takes place after cards have been dealt, starting with the player to the left of the big blind. Like any poker game, a position is important in 5 Card Draw, the later you act in a hand the more advantage you get as you will see what other players are doing before you act yourself. This gives you a better feel for what other players have.
The same as in other forms of poker, players need to either ‘Call’ the current bet – so place a bet equal to the largest bet made, at the start of the hand this will be the big blind bet – ‘Raise’ the current bet – increase the biggest bet that has previously been made, this normally needs to be at least double the previous largest bet – or ‘Fold’ – end your interest in the hand by throwing away your cards if you don’t feel they are good enough to win the hand.
The Play (otherwise known as Action) continues clockwise around the table until all players have either Called the highest bet made and put an equal amount in or Folded and thrown their cards away leaving the hand. The big blind is the last player to act and if no one before them has Raised, they can ‘Check’ – this effectively means they ‘Call’ the bet but as they have previously put in the largest bet, they don’t need to add more funds to the pot in order to proceed to the next round.
Once this betting round has been completed, the action starts again with the player to the left of the Dealer who is still in the hand. The example below shows the player holding a pair of kings and preparing to discard the other 3 cards.
Each player, in turn, has to choose a number of cards which they wish to replace. They can keep all 5 of their cards if they wish, this is known as “stand pat”, or they can throw away any number of cards, all 5 if they wish, face down. They will be dealt an equal number of new cards which will give them their final hand.
Once all players have received their new cards, there is a 2nd and final betting round starting with the first active player to the Dealers left.
This is the same as before, except that there is no previous bet in this round, therefore the first player to act can ‘Check’ if he wishes meaning he doesn’t bet any further funds.
Once all players have acted and every player has either Called the highest bet of the round or Folded, the winner of the hand is determined at the Showdown. The first active player to the left of the Dealer shows his hand, play then continues around the table with the next player showing his hand if it is better or ‘mucking’ his cards – basically, admitting defeat and throwing them away – if his hand is beaten.
The player with the best 5 card poker hand wins the pot. You can check out the full hand rankings if you are unsure of the strength of each, it is a good idea to learn them before playing for real money.
See below for an example of how a 5 card draw online game will look:
5 Card Poker Strategy
5 Card Draw is a very simple poker game to learn as there aren’t as many betting rounds or cards to choose from as in other forms.
We suggest playing for play money at one of our recommended sites if you are new to the game until you get used to it, following the simple steps below will help you become a winning player.
Don’t play too many hands – like all forms of poker, one of the main mistakes new players make is getting involved in too many hands. You need to be able to read your cards and the strength of them when you first get dealt them, and act accordingly, especially if you are one of the first players to act. Small pairs and drawing hands aren’t great in 5 Card Draw as there is only one opportunity to improve your hand.
Position – as mentioned above, if you are one of the first players to act in a hand, this is a distinct disadvantage. If you choose to Call when only 1 or 2 players have been, there is a good chance someone else will Raise meaning you have to either add more money to the pot or throw away your bet by Folding. The earlier you are, the fewer hands you should play, the same as in any form of poker.
Drawing hands – whilst in some forms of poker having 3 connecting cards of the same suit can be a good starting hand, you only have 1 chance to improve your hand in 5 Card Draw, therefore it is not as strong. The odds of hitting your hand are therefore much lower and we suggest you only play these in late position if you are confident you won’t have to pay a lot in the betting round to see if you manage to hit your hand.
Pairs – If you have 1 pair in your hand, discard the other 3 and go for the 3 of a kind or better. If you are dealt 3 of a kind, discard the other 2 and increase the odds of hitting that 4th card. If you are dealt 2 pairs, keep them and discard the other one to see if you can improve to a full house.
5 Card Poker Tips
Those drawing 2 cards tend to have better hands than those drawing 1…
The chances are that a player drawing 2 cards will have trips and will, therefore, be in a very strong position, it is possible that they will be drawing for a straight or flush but this is less likely. Those drawing just the 1 card are most likely to have 2 pairs or a straight or flush draw, meaning they are behind players who have trips and need to hit their card.
Mix it up to confuse your opponents…
It is easy to read some players in 5 Card Draw as they act the same way in the same situations. It is important to mix up your game a bit to keep your opponents guessing as to what you have.
Play for fun to learn the game… If you haven’t played 5 Card Draw before, find a site that offers free play games so you can learn the rules and strategy before risking your hard earned money for real.