Five Card Draw

Five Card Draw used to be one of the most popular poker variants in the days before the poker boom at the turn of the century. It is the variant most commonly featured in old Western movies and on TV shows. Because it is a game with only two betting rounds, reading of your opponents’ tendencies is much more important than in games like Texas Hold’em where there is much more tangible information about your opponents’ possible holdings available.

Five Card Draw Betting Structure

Typically stud games are played with an ante and community card games are played with blinds, but both structures are equally popular when it comes to draw games. When playing with blinds, the two players to the dealer’s left pay the small and big blind respectively before the hand begins, where the big blind is typically twice the small blind. The betting action then begins on the player to the left of the big blind for the first betting round and on the small blind for the second betting round.

When played with antes, each player pays a small amount into the pot and the first betting round begins with the player to the dealer’s left. Players must fold in turn if they do not have a qualifying hand to ‘open’ the pot with (typically a pair of Jacks or better). All players after the opener are free to call, raise or fold whether or not they have a hand better than a pair of Jacks. The second betting round begins with the player who opened the first round.

Five card draw is typically played with a pot limit betting structure, where players can bet or raise up to the amount which is currently in the pot, or a no limit structure, where players can bet there entire stack any time the action is on them.

Playing a 5 Card Draw Hand

Regardless of whether the game is played with blinds or antes, all players are dealt five cards face down on the first round. When the betting action on this round is complete, each player may discard some of his cards and have them replaced with an equivalent number of cards from the remaining unused cards in the deck. Typically the maximum number of cards a player can replace is set at three.

When all players have been dealt their remaining cards the betting action starts either on the small blind (blind based structure) or the opener (ante based structure) and proceeds clockwise around the table where players have the option to check or bet, or call, fold or raise if there has been a bet before them. Once the final bet has been called by at least one player or all players check, the hand the goes to a showdown where players must turn over their cards starting with the player to the left of the dealer. The pot is then awarded to the player with the best five card poker hand as decided by the standard poker hand rankings.

Because there are only two betting rounds: the pre-draw and the post-draw round, five card draw is known as a two-street game.