How to Play Five Card Draw Poker

Five Card Draw is one of the oldest variants of poker, and it also is the first poker game taught to most players. The game is very simple to learn and play, and as a result of this most casinos and online poker sites don't offer Five Card Draw at their tables. The game is more commonly played in home games, but if you're set on playing online 5 Card Draw we recommend a few poker sites later down the page.

Objective of Five Card Draw

In Five Card Draw, players attempt to win the pot (the money in the middle of the table) by having the best hand at the end, or betting enough to scare the other players out of the pot. Good players are able to maximize the amount of money in the pot when they have a solid hand, and to protect their chips when they don't have a great hand. After we teach you the rules of 5 Card Draw, we'll recommend a few strategy tips to help you win more money.

Five Card Draw Structure

Five Card Draw is typically played with a maximum of six players because the deck can't support many more than that, as each player receives at least five cards. Most games are of the Fixed Limit betting variety, but a few online games also have Pot Limit stakes. The game starts with two players posting blinds, which are forced bets that create pre-draw action.

Also, tables are referred to based on their blind sizes - A $1/$2 Pot Limit game would have $1 and $2 blinds, while a $1/$2 Fixed Limit game would have $0.50 and $1 blinds. If you're wondering why the blinds are different for each game, read the "Shuffle Up and Deal" section.

5 Card Draw Rules

We'll start by explaining the rules of Five Card Draw, then we'll explain the differences between Fixed and Pot limit later on down the page, as well as recommending the best 5 Card Draw poker sites.

Shuffle Up and Deal

Like I mentioned before, the game starts with two forced bets, called "blinds". There is a small blind and a big blind, and the big blind is typically twice as large as the small blind. The small blind is posted by the player directly to the left of the dealer, and the big blind is posted by the player directly to the left of the small blind (2 seats to the left of the dealer).

Every time a hand ends, the dealer button as well as each blind move one player clockwise. One difference to note between Fixed Limit and Pot Limit is the blind size in relation to the table stakes. In a Pot Limit game, the blinds are the same as the betting stakes - a $2/$4 Pot Limit table would have a small blind of $2 and a big blind of $4. However, a $2/$4 Fixed Limit table would have a small blind of $1 and a big blind of $2. It's a small difference, but it's important to note. Here's a drawing showing the table setup and where the blinds are located:

Five Card Draw Diagram

Once the blinds are posted, the next step is to deal the cards. Starting with the small blind, each player receives five cards total. The dealer deals one card at a time in a clockwise rotation. Once each player has their five cards, the first betting round begins.

First Betting Round

The first round starts with the player directly to the left of the big blind. This player can either fold, call the big blind, or raise. "Calling" means that the player matches the big blind, and "raising" means that the player puts at least double the big blind into the pot. After the first player acts, play continues around the table clockwise until every player has either folded or called the largest bet. After the first betting round is complete, the hand moves to the "draw".

The Draw

The Draw is the most exciting part of a Five Card Draw hand. Each player gets a chance to exchange any number of their hole cards for fresh ones from the deck. The first player to the left of the dealer starts the draw, and they can either draw 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 0 cards, which is called "standing pat". After they receive their new cards, the next player to the left gets to draw, and so on until each player has received their new cards.

Second Betting Round

After the draw is completed, there is another betting round. This one starts with the first player to the left of the dealer who is still in the hand, and continues clockwise around the table. Each player can either check (if no one has bet), bet (if no one has bet), call (if someone has bet), raise (if someone has bet), or fold (if someone has bet). After each player has either called the largest bet or folded, the round ends and any remaining players go to a showdown.

The Showdown

If two or more players make it all the way to the end of the second betting round, the players flip their cards over and have a showdown. This is pretty simple - the player with the best hand takes the pot. Five Card Draw uses standard poker hand rankings, as shown below:

Hand Rank: Hand: Example Hand:
#1 Straight Flush T-J-Q-K-A of the same suit
#2 Four of a Kind A-A-A-A-K
#3 Full House K-K-K-Q-Q
#4 Flush 2-6-8-9-A of the same suit
#5 Straight 5-6-7-8-9 Off Suit
#6 Three of a Kind J-J-J-4-8
#7 Two Pair J-J-K-K-A
#8 One Pair A-A-8-7-4
#9 High Card A-K-5-4-3

Fixed Limit vs. Pot Limit

Although Fixed Limit and Pot Limit have the same game structure, the betting structure is quite different. In Fixed Limit, there is a rigid betting structure that determines when and how much you can bet. In Pot Limit, the betting is only capped at the pot size, and there aren't really any other restrictions.

Fixed Limit Five Card Draw poker allows a maximum of four bets in each round - a bet, a raise, a re-raise and a cap. After the cap (the third raise in a betting round), no more betting is allowed. In Pot Limit games, there can be an unlimited number of bets and raises.

Where to Play 5 Card Draw?

Not many online poker sites offer 5 Card Draw for real money, but we looked really hard and were able to come up with a couple sites that have five card draw tables, and actually have real money games running. Check out if you'd like to play at our #1 rated site, or read about more 5 card draw poker sites.

If your a USA player, check this page for a list of US friendly poker rooms with Five Card Draw

Variations of Five Card Draw

5 Card Stud

Cards are dealt in streets, with a round of betting following each deal.

5 Card Draw

A complete hand is dealt face down to each player at the table. Each player then has a chance to improve his hand by discarding the cards he does not want and getting new ones dealt to him.

Community Stud

This is a variation of stud. The deal is an incomplete hand of face-down cards and a number of face up community cards that are dealt to the center of the table. These cards make up the board. These can be combined to make a five-card hand. Texas Hold'em and Omaha are two examples of the community poker game family.

History of 5 Card Draw

Five Card Draw's history is not entirely known, but to get a good summary check out this Five Card Draw history page.

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