Learning how to play Five Card Draw is an extremely easy venture. In fact, this poker game is often learned by young children, which is a testament to its simplicity. However, while Five Card Draw might only take a few minutes to learn, it will require a good deal of thought and strategizing to turn a profit in the long run.
The goal of Five Card Draw is to make the best poker hand by using the five cards that you hold. If you are unfamiliar with how traditional poker hand are ranked, please read our poker hand rankings article before continuing with this lesson.
A normal Five Card Draw table seats up to six players maximum. A round plastic marker, called a dealer button, is positioned in front of one person at a time and is moved clockwise at the end of each hand. While Five Card Draw is sometimes played with antes (a small amount posted by each player prior to the deal), it is becoming more common to play the game with blinds. Just as in Flop games such as Omaha and Hold’em, the two players seated on the left of the dealer button are required to post “blinds,” which are small forced bets that help drive the betting. The player seated on the dealer button’s immediate left posts a “small blind” while the person sitting on their left posts a “big blind” (typically about double the size of the small blind).
Once the button is in the correct position and the blinds have been posted, all players receive five cards, each dealt face down. Private cards are generally referred to as “hole cards” or “down cards.” There is then an initial round of betting (the first of only two total betting rounds), beginning with the person sitting to the big blind’s left. This player has the option to either call (or match) the big blind, raise to a higher amount, or fold their hand and forfeit their chance of winning the pot. Play will continue clockwise around the table until each player has had an opportunity to act on their hand. The players seated in the blinds will act last during this first betting round, and will surrender their blind amounts if they decide to fold their hands.
After the completion of the initial betting round, there is a draw. Each player will have the opportunity to draw new cards, meaning they exchange some, all, or none of their hole cards for new cards, attempting to improve their hand. If someone decides to exchange none of their cards and pass on the draw completely, it suggests great hand strength and is called “standing pat.”
Once the draw is over, there is one last betting round. This will be the last opportunity for players to make or save money on the hand. Starting with the first remaining active player sitting to the left of the button, players may either check (pass), bet, call or raise a bet (if there has been one ahead of them) or fold.
Once all players have had an opportunity to act on their hand during the final betting round, there is now a Showdown. Players compare their holdings to determine who has created the best five card poker hand. The winner is declared and the pot is pushed appropriately.
There are several ways in which Five Card Draw can be played:
Limit 5 Card Draw – In this variation, there are betting limits. This means that players may only place bets or raises in specified increments.
No Limit 5 Card Draw – No Limit is exactly what it sounds like; players are unlimited in their betting and can wager any amount up to what they currently have in chips.
Pot Limit 5 Card Draw – Players may bet or raise any amount between the minimum and the size of the current pot.
Now that you hopefully understand the rules of Five Card Draw, be sure to check out our strategy page for tips on how to turn a profit at the tables.