Five Card Draw, a game that is often learned by players at a young age, has become something of a rarity in the modern poker era but can still be found from time to time in both major tournament series and in a cash game format, mostly online. While five card draw may not get a lot of television airtime, it still offers many opportunities for strategy and excitement.
If you do not yet understand how to play, check out the Five Card Draw Rules page before reading the following tips which will surely assist you in taking your Five Card Draw game to the next level.
It likely goes without saying that when you hold a pair or two, three of a kind, or four cards to a straight or flush as your starting hand, you have a quality hand – and if you don’t have any of these things, you’ve got trash. However, if you are one of the last players to act before the draw and no one has yet entered the pot, it is okay to put in a raise in an attempt to win the blinds or antes. This is known in the poker world as a “steal play” and is an important part of any good player’s arsenal. Not only does this play add deception, but it gives you an opportunity to pick up a few extra pots without making a real hand. It can be a powerful move in five card draw, but don’t get carried away with it.
There aren’t many feelings as satisfying in poker as drawing to a straight or flush in Five Card Draw and getting there. If you start with four cards to any open ended straight (such as 4-5-6-7) or a flush draw (such as four hearts), then you will complete your draw almost one out of five times. While this does mean that you are going to miss considerably more often than you hit, you are still going to make your hand a fair amount of the time, and will often be offered sufficient odds from the pot to compensate for all the times you miss. However, novice players often extend this concept WAY too far, and attempt to draw two cards to a straight or flush rather than just one. Obviously it isn’t impossible to complete a two card draw, but instead of a roughly nineteen percent chance of completing your draw (as in the case of a one card flush draw for instance), drawing two cards delivers more like a three percent chance of hitting your hand.
In a lot of poker games, it is a reasonable and rather cagey strategy to simply check and call on earlier betting rounds with a strong hand, with the intention of trapping your opponent into putting in big bets and raises on the later rounds. While this is quite viable in Flop games and Stud games, it is quite obvious when playing a draw game like Five Card Draw and most of your opponents will know that something fishy is going on. If you’re looking to add some deception to your game in Five Card Draw, look to mix in some bluffs with your value bets as a steal play before the draw, or even after the draw when you miss.
Beginning poker players often approach the draw in a very straightforward manner, and always draw three when they have a pair, two when they have three of a kind, and one when they have two pairs or four to a straight or flush. This style of drawing will generally get the job done, and maximize your chances of improving your hand, but it will also make you fairly predictable and easy to read. Therefore, it can be helpful to sometimes draw one card when you actually have three of a kind to mimic a flush or straight draw, or to draw two when you have only a pair (or even less) to mimic having three of a kind.
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