The 5 card draw is seemingly the one poker game that everyone begins with. In fact, it may very well be the first-ever recorded games, traceable as far back as the Wild Wild West era. According to the legends, the infamous ‘Wild’ bill Hickock was allegedly shot while playing the game. It is said that he died holding two pairs, eights, and aces—a hand, since dubbed the name ‘dead man’s hand’.
Although, now far less common casinos and gambling dens, where it’s been superseded by Texas Hold em and Omaha poker’s likes, the game is still pretty popular at homes and in online poker platforms.
Luckily, if you’ve played any other form of poker, you’ll find the 5 card draw fairly simple and pretty straightforward to learn. But to the complete novice player, there is still some learning curve to expect.
In our article, we’ll highlight the fundamentals of the game to help shed a little light on how to get started out fast. We’ll also give you a few foundational tips on what steps to follow in online play. Let’s get started:
Learn How to Play 5 Card Draw: Hand Rankings
The first step as a beginner to any poker game is to know the ranking of the hands. This is the only way you can know whether you have a winning hand or not. And the 5 card draw is no exception. For this reason, we shall start by looking at the hierarchy of cards.
The hand ranks in 5 card draw games are quite similar to most other poker games. Therefore, it follows the most common poker rules. Just like Texas Hold’em, the poker hand rankings range from weak to strong. They include:
Now, the overall goal as you play 5 card draw poker is to try and be the player with the best hand after a draw. Naturally, having a stronger hand than your opponent automatically makes you a winner. Onto the gameplay.
The actual gameplay in poker game
Now that you have an understanding of the hands, it is time to play the game. As we’ve seen, you are working on getting the highest ranked hand.
So how do you play the game? And what are the card draw rules exactly? Well, much like a flop game, the 5 card draw game is played with a button (dealer) and blinds. It begins with a deal and then follows a draw.
The deal is basically when the dealer deals each player a certain amount of hole cards (cards dealt face down) from the deck. Usually, the maximum numbers of hands for a 5 card draw game are 6. Because of the game’s nature, having any more than 6 might mean that there are not enough cards to cover for each player’s draw.
Now, depending on the betting structure in play, the poker hand itself can start either one of two ways. Sometimes, it starts when each player posts an ante, or it can start with blinds.
Antes vs blinds
The difference between the two methods of play is quite simple. The ante method, which was the original and most popular in home games, is where each player pays a predetermined amount of money (ante) before any card is dealt to them.
The blinds, on the other hand are where only the two players sitting to the left of the dealer are required to pay money before being dealt the cards.
There are two types of blinds: the small blind and the big blind. It is important to distinguish them both. Let’s break it down.
Once blinds have been posted, all the players get dealt a random combination of five cards facing down. In the first round, the first one to pursue the big blind can fold, raise or call. Then the game continues clockwise until the round’s betting is complete. After the beginning betting round, we move to the draw:
The Drawing Round: The Card Draw Rules!
Now we enter the draw section of the game. It is usually done after the first round and may very well be the heart of a 5 card draw poker game.
Here, every player will choose the card they want to discard (if any) and then draw new ones from the top of the deck. This phase is crucial because having knowledge of which cards to discard or hold can make or break your chances of winning.
To get you started, here are a few card draw basics you can consider when drawing in a 5 card draw game.
Of course, this is only the tip of what you can draw to increase your chances of winning. If you use it in low-stakes games, you should get away with positive results. However, you have to put your poker face on. Try not to make it so obvious or make the same draw every time. This might allow your opponents to predict your hand and change their poker strategy to beat you.
To make the actual draw, you can either physically hand it to the dealer or, if you are playing online, click on the card you want to discard. If you click a second time on the card you wish to discard, it gets removed from the card discard set. The discarding moves on clockwise around the table.
Alternatively, if the player likes the first five cards dealt to them as is, they can decide not to draw any cards. This is called the “standing pat.”
After everyone has drawn, we move on to another round of betting.
Betting in the 5 card draw is just like the Texas Hold’em. As we saw, the poker hand begins with the small and big blind accordingly posting their bets. The second betting round is where the other players place their bets. In this case, you have two options. You can either play in a certain fixed limit structure or a no-limit structure game.
Determining the winner
After the final betting round is done, the players who are still in play all table their hands. The player with the best hand wins the bet. As you may have guessed, the winner gets awarded the entire pot, and then the new game begins. If there is more than one poker hand with the same value (regardless of the suit), the pot is split among the players equally.
Summary of Gameplay in 5 Card Draw
Well, there you have it. The 5 card draw poker is pretty straightforward, right? To help cement it in, here’s a quick recap of the whole thing:
- The dealer hand all players five cards each
- The first round of betting starts with the player, left of the big blind
- We then move to the draw, and players get rid of unwanted cards and draw new ones from the top of the deck
- A final betting round begins with the player to the left of the dealer.
- Players table their cards, and the one with the strongest poker hand wins
The highlight of the 5 card draw is when players draw cards. This is because it is extremely rare to get a strong hand on your first deal. We’ve compiled a statistical chart of the chances of each hand happening at the first round.
Of course, you might get lucky with a perfect hand on the first try, but these statistics should help you ready yourself with a draw strategy for the hands that are most likely to be dealt, so you can get the best drawing hands. In this case, the most probable is the ‘No pair’ and ‘one pair’.
By now, it is fair to assume that you have a basic understanding of how to play 5 card draw poker games. Sure, it might be far less popular than it was in its glory days, but the 5 card draw is one of the best home games out there. It is also still available at most online poker sites, where you’ll find various poker rooms where you can play tournaments against other people.
The good thing with online oijer platforms is that they feature many different pot limits and draw variants, so you can pick one according to your preference. Practicing good bankroll management is easier at online poker vs live poker games. Alternatively, you can start by sharpening your poker skills at the free tables and play the game free of charge without risking your own money.
5 Card Draw FAQ
What Are The Rules For 5 Card Draw?
Five card draw rules are pretty easy to master. The game is played using your typical 52 card deck. It’s a high poker variant, so its poker hand rankings are like most popular poker games like Texas Hold’em. The weakest hand is the high card, and a royal flush tops everything.
Each player is dealt five cards in the first round, starting with the first player to the left of the dealer. A round of betting follows. Afterward, we move to the draw phase, where the players still in the game can exchange as many cards as they want from their hand and pick new cards from the top of the deck.
After the final betting round, all players table their hands, and the player with the best hand wins the pot. If more than one player has the same hand, they split the pot equally, irrespective of the suit.
How Do You Play 5 Card Draw For Beginners?
Playing five card draw shouldn’t be too hard for a beginner. The hand rankings are actually the same as Hold’em. Start the game by dealing each player 5 cards, all facing down. Then have the players make their bets. If more than one player remains, proceed to the draw round.
Here the players can replace their cards with new ones from the deck, hoping to get a better hand. After the draw, move on to the second round of betting, starting with the player to the left of the dealer. Finally, all players hand in their cards, and the one with the best hand goes home with the pot.
What Are The Winning Hands In 5 Cards Draw?
Like other high variant poker games, the winning hand in five card draw is the royal flush. Here, you have a jack, Ten, king, ace, and queen of the same suit. The next best hand is a straight flush, whereby you have 5 cards in a sequence, and they are all of the same suit. From there, it goes down to four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, pair, and lastly, high card, which is the weakest hand.
What’s The Difference Between 5 Card Draw And 5 Card Stud?
The difference between five card draw and five card studs poker is actually in the entire gameplay. In 5 card draw, each player gets dealt 5 cards at the beginning of the game. They then get a chance to draw, whereby they can replace their cards for a better hand.
On the other hand, In 5 card stud, the players are given only two cards at the beginning: one facing up and the other facing down. It is then followed by a bring-in round and betting round. Then another card is handed to the remaining players, followed by another betting round. This cycle continues until the fifth card is dealt, with the initial card still facing down. After the final round, all cards are turned to face up. The best hand takes the pot.
Johannes is the Editor in Chief at Beasts Of Poker and is an expert in both live & online poker. Johannes played online poker semi-professionally for 5 years while completing his Master’s Degree in Technology.