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5 Card Draw Poker Rules

Page summary: An overview of the rules and strategy for playing Five Card Draw poker.

5 Card Draw Poker Rules - How To Play Five Card Draw

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Five Card Draw is a poker game that is commonly played in home games and has become an attraction for online casinos. The betting rounds vary slightly from games such as Texas Holdem and the draw concept makes the game interesting. As with any poker game, knowing and playing position, knowing hand strengths and being able to capitalize off of your opponent's weaknesses are key to being successful.

Five Card Draw was revolutionized during the American Civil War and was very popular up into the early twentieth century. Stud Poker eventually took over in the popularity contest, but the draw is popular in home games and online casinos. The concepts are simpler than in other poker games, making Five Card Draw a great game for the beginner poker player.


The basic structure to Five Card Draw is begun with each player placing an ante. An ante is a small fee or buy-in that is placed into the pot. This differs from other games that may only require antes as an elimination tool as the game progresses into higher blinds. The ante is due to the lack of betting rounds within Five Card Draw and also due to the lack of blinds that exist within most other poker games.

Each player is then dealt five hole cards, which are face down and undisclosed to the other players at the table. A round of betting will begin with the player to the left of the dealer. Betting then proceeds around the table. Once the betting round has concluded, players can make their draw.

You can discard three or four cards depending on the house rules and get new cards equal to the discarded amount from the dealer. After everyone still in the hand has completed their draw, there is a final round of betting. The hand is either mucked or a showdown occurs, depending on who remains in the hand after the betting round, i.e. - if someone calls the bet, you go to a showdown and the winning hand will be shown.

Hand Strength

Knowing hand strengths is very important in any poker game and if you haven't learned which hands are the best starting hands and how they rank, you should consider doing a little research. In Five Card Draw, you only get one draw, however, there is a betting round before the draw so you need to know whether you should even be in the hand for the draw.

The poker hands in Five Card Draw are the same as most poker games. The hands are ranked like this:

  • Royal Flush - A-K-Q-J-10 (same suit)
  • Straight Flush - Same Suit, 5 Consecutive Cards, example: (6,7,8.9,10 all spades)
  • Four Of A Kind - All four of the same card (7777 or QQQQ)
  • Full House - Three of any card and two of another (55522 or KKKAA)
  • Flush - Any five cards that all have the same suit
  • Straight - Five consecutive cards regardless of suit (3,4,5,6,7)
  • Three Of A Kind - Three of any card
  • Two Pair - Any two pairs of cards that rank the same
  • Pair - Two cards that rank the same
  • No Pair or High Card - Ace High or King High

If no one hits a pair or better, the person with the highest card wins. If two people have the same high card, it goes to the next card. So, if a player has A,K,5,4,3 versus A,K,Q,8,7, the player with A,K,Q,8,7 wins. In this case it goes to the third card since both players have an Ace and a King.


If you are going to play poker, you have to know how to play your position. The player with the best position has an enormous advantage over weaker positioned players. Some players use a common bluff strategy in Five Card Draw based on position. This tactic involves betting before the draw, drawing no cards and then pushing a raise. This indicates you have a very strong hand and is a good pot grabbing strategy.

Be careful of routine and making yourself very readable. Position is about playing your position correctly, but you must also play the cards. For example, you are not going to win every hand in which you're on the button just because you have the best position.

Terms used in position are things such as small blind, big blind, the button and under the gun. In Five Card Draw, sometimes blinds are used in substitute for antes. The purpose is to guarantee a pot for the hand. The player to the left of the dealer would be the small blind. To the left of the small blind is the big blind. The next player to the left is referred to as being under the gun because they are first to act. The button is the player that is in the dealer position.


The amount of the ante should be taken into consideration when you decide whether to call the initial bet or not. Five Card Draw is usually limit, and if the ante is higher than 40% of the limit, the ante is high and the pot odds allows for looser play. If the ante is small, like 15-20% of the limit, the pot will be smaller and you should play tighter.

You only have two betting rounds in Five Card Draw, so make good bets. If you make a table name for yourself for playing tight, drawing a card and betting like you hit can be a good tactic. Play your position, calculate pot odds, play the cards and make bets accordingly.

Five Card Draw is a fun home game that has transferred over into the online casino world and can be lucrative if you know what you're doing. The rules are fairly simple and straightforward. If you are new to poker, this is a good starting game to learn hand strengths and position play. The format is a little less complex than other poker games. Be mindful of your bankroll and play at your level.