5 Card Draw Poker Explained for Beginners (With Examples)

5 card draw is one of the oldest and simplest variants of poker. There are many people whose introduction to the world of poker was through this game. If you are new to 5 card draw, then you’ve come to the right place.

Players new to 5 card draw have to learn the rules of the game, betting options, and strategies. Fortunately, learning 5 card draw takes less than one hour but you’ll need a lot of practice to truly master the game.

5 card draw is old, very old. The game has been available since when poker was played in the backrooms of smoke-filled bars. However, the game has lost its popularity and has been overtaken by other poker variants like Omaha and Texas Hold’em.

One of the best things about 5 card draw is that it’s easy to learn. The rules are straightforward and its strategies are simple enough. There are a lot of Omaha and Texas Hold’em pros that began their poker journey through 5 card draw.

easy to learn 5 card draw with examples.
5 card draw is a very simple game to learn. But to truly master it, it will take some time, just like in other poker games.

You’ll rarely see this game played live in a casino. But don’t worry, a lot of poker sites offer 5 card draw as the interest in the game is still large enough. If you are new to poker, 5 card draw is a good variant of poker to start with. If you already have poker experience, there’s no harm in learning another variant of poker.

There is even a 5 card draw WCOOP event on PokerStars every year.

WCOOP 2019 | $1,050 NL 5-Card Draw PKO Event 09-H: Final Table Replay

5 card draw is commonly played at home due to its easy setup making it a good game for poker enthusiasts to enjoy with their friends and families.

I’ll be talking about the rules and strategy of 5 card draw. By the time you finish this article, you’ll most likely be pumped up and eager to play 5 card draw. Here we go.

Want to make a buck or just beat buddies at home games? The books below are great for 5-card Stud strategies:

Is 5 card draw difficult for beginners to play?

I’m often asked this question by people intending to learn 5 card draw. And my answer every time is no. Like I said in the introduction, the game is easy to learn.

One of the things I like about 5 card draw is that the game allows you to alter the ranking/strength of your hand. And this gives you more control over the game than most variants of poker as you enjoy a fluid and enjoying the game. You don’t necessarily have to sit hoping for a good hand as you have more control over your gameplay.

However, it’s the fluidity of the game that makes it a bit complicated. Having more control over the strength of your hand means you have more decisions to make. I see more as a benefit than a disadvantage. Why? This is because the game allows you to hone your in-game play skills in a way other variants of poker don’t offer.

Rules of 5 card draw

The game is played using the standard 52-card deck. 5 card draw is a high poker variant meaning it uses the same hand rankings used in games like Texas Hold’em. A royal flush is the strongest hand, followed by a straight flush, then four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, and so on. The weakest hand is a high card.

5 card draws begins after everyone at the table has received five cards, all of which will be dealt face down. The first person to be dealt cards will be anyone sitting left to the position of the dealer. From there, the dealer proceeds in a clockwise direction dealing one card to each player until they all have five cards.

The first betting round starts after all the players have received five cards each. The remaining deck will be put aside and protected by placing a chip on it. After the first betting round comes to the draw phase.

Players have the chance to discard as many cards as they want and exchange them for new ones.

You can exchange all your five cards if you so desire. Now, you can see that you have more control over your gameplay in 5 card draw. If you think your cards are good enough, you can decide not to exchange them.

After the draw phase, another round of betting will take place. If more than one player remains after this betting round, then the showdown will take place. During the showdown, players reveal their hands, and the player with the best hand wins. If two players have hands of the same ranking, then the pot will be shared equally among them.

Unlike some variants of poker, suits aren’t used to break ties in 5 card draw. Instead, side cards (kickers) are used to determine the winner in situations where two players have the same hand. For example, consider this poker hand Q-Q-10-5-2. The above poker hand will be considered as a pair of Queens. And 10, 5, 2 are the side cards or kickers. Should another player also end up with a pair of Queens, then the player with the highest side cards will win the pot. Both players will share the pot only if they have exactly the same hands/cards.

Split pot in 5 card draw
Suits don’t play a role when it comes to the same hand ranking in 5 card draw. This is an example of a split pot.

Let’s consider a five card draw game between Player A and Player B. Player A shows Q-Q-K-3-2 at showdown while player B comes up with Q-Q-10-4-3. Since both players both have a pair of Queens, the side cards will be used. And player A will win the pot because the King (K) outranks the 10.

House rules

You should know that the rules of a poker game may vary depending on where you are playing. The variations in the rules aren’t usually too significant. It may just be to make the game faster and more efficient or to play the game people in a particular region are already used to.

In some casinos, you can only discard a maximum of three cards during the draw phase. This is in contrast to the general rules of the game where you can discard and exchange all your five cards. You’ll only be allowed to change more than three cards when you draw four cards while keeping an ace (or wild card).

This rule is usually utilized during low-stakes social games as it’s certain that a lot of players will stay for the draw. Using this rule helps ensure that the deck won’t be depleted. Now you see the reasons behind the modifications of some of the general rules of poker games.

Another common house rule is that players can’t draw five consecutive cards from the deck. So you can’t discard and exchange all your five cards at once if you decide they aren’t good enough. So what does the casino do?

The dealer will first exchange four cards for you, then attend to other players and draw cards for them too. It’s only after all the cards have been drawn for other players that the dealer will return to draw you your fifth card.

In a situation where you are the only one drawing cards at the table, the dealer will first draw four cards for you, then burn a card before you are given the fifth card.

There are also casinos that have rules forbidding the dealer to give the card at the bottom of a deck as a replacement. The reason for this is simple. There’s the possibility that someone might have already the bottom card during the deal.

It’s common to see situations where the deck is depleted during a draw before everyone at the table gets their replacements. In this situation, players yet to receive new cards will be given replacements randomly from the pile of discarded cards.

So let’s consider a situation when the last player to draw intends to exchange three cards but there are only two cards remaining in the deck. The player will first be given the top card and not the bottom card.

Most casinos do not give out the bottom card as replacements.

The bottom card is then combined with the burn card and cards discarded by other players. The cards that the last player is trying to draw won’t be included. This new pile of cards is then shuffled and the remaining two replacements are given to the player.

Video: How To Play 5 Card Draw (Poker).

Betting in 5 card draw

Five-card draw is different from some variants of poker in the sense that it doesn’t have one betting structure. The game has three betting structures namely fixed limit, pot limit, and no limit.

The bets in fixed limit 5 card draw are fixed limit games which leave no room for maneuvering as the bets are already fixed. You have more freedom in pot-limit games as you can size your bets anyhow you like. However, your bets cannot exceed the size of the pot.

You can already guess what no-limit 5 card draw is about. Here, you have total freedom when it comes to betting. You can bet a single blind if you want. Heck, you can even bet your entire stack during your turn. There’s no limit to the size of your bet. Well, your stack is the only limit.

Two betting methods are used in 5 car draw when it comes to preflop betting. The first one uses the ante and this method is more commonly used at home. All the players have to post the ante before they are dealt cards.

The second betting method utilizes big and small blinds like Omaha and Texas Hold’em. This is the format that live and online poker use. The first action is usually taken by the UTG player. UTG is just a fancy poker term that means Under the gun poker position and this usually refers to the position left to the Big Blind. Now, you know a poker term to show off to your friends.

Basic five card draw strategy

It takes just a few minutes to learn how to play 5 card draw. However, it takes far longer to fully master the game and become a pro. While 5 card draw has the advantage of not being too demanding or complex like other versions of poker, you need to understand some basic strategies of the game to excel.

I’ll be talking about basic principles and strategies that will hold true no matter the betting structure of the game you are playing. These principles will be solid foundations on which you can build advanced strategies as you gain more experience in the game.

Choosing Your Starting Hands in Five Card Draw

Knowing how to select your starting hands is a skill that’s universal to all variants of poker. How you select your hands will largely determine your chances of winning. It’s important you know the hands to keep and the ones to discard.

Blinds are used in live and online 5 card games and this means that your position at the table is important. The more closer you are to the button, the more hands you’ll be able to play. This is because you’ll be able to make better decisions after seeing the play of people ahead of you.

You should almost always enter the pot with a raise regardless of your position. This is because limping in (to enter the pot by calling rather than raising) usually results in other players limping behind. And the result of this is that a very strong hand will be needed to win the game.

When you have hands like two pairs or better, you should play them regardless of your position at the table. Play tight from early positions and get involved and raise with hands like Aces and Kings from all positions.

It’s smart to start adding high pairs like Queens, Jacks, 10s, and 9s as you get closer to the button. Make sure you have a good kicker to back it up for a showdown.

If you are lucky enough to receive two pairs or three-of-a-kind, you should always raise regardless of your position at the table. Be wary of hands like straights and draws as these hands bleed away players’ bankrolls.

It’s important for beginners to know that holdings like four-to-a-straight or four-to-a-flush look much better than people think.

Since you are receiving only one replacement on the draw, you are about a 4 to 1 underdog to hit your hand. More often than not, you won’t have the correct pot odds to fill your flush or straight.

As a beginner, always stick to strong holdings as that’s the best way to master the game. The rest will come with experience as you’ll be able to comfortably include more hands. Also, you’ll become adept at recognizing and dealing with tricky spots.

You’ll need a lot of practice to master 5 card draw and the best way to do that is to play online. Casinos rarely offer 5 card game live but the game is available at online poker rooms. Many online poker rooms allow you to play games without real money. You need a lot of practice before wagering your hard-earned money.

5 Card Draw Hands Review – Winning Strategy

Advanced 5-Card Draw Strategy

After mastering the basics of the game and feeling more confident, you need to improve goit gameplay by starting to use more advanced strategies.

There are generally two sides of poker – the mathematical side and the psychological side. And the psychological part of the 5 card draw is mainly due to the drawing element of the game.

For example, your best move/play mathematically when you have a pair is to draw three cards. Now, if you do this consistently, your opponents will quickly figure your strategy out and alter theirs to defeat you.

This is why you should sometimes draw only a card or two when you have a pair. Play mind games on your opponents. The aim here is for you to be less predictable.

Bluffing in 5 card draw is a lot different from games like Omaha or Texas Hold’em.

This is because players still have a decent hand even when they are bluffing. I’ll discuss more about bluffing in 5 card draw later on.

bluffing in 5 card draw
Bluffing is a good part of 5 card draw strategy. But if you overdo it, the opponents will quickly pick up, and start calling you lighter.

The Draw Round: What Cards to Change?

It’s important for 5 card draw players to know the cards to hold or discard during the draw round. This is even more important when you consider the fact that you have only one chance to discard and get new cards. Games like Hold’em and PLO have a flop, turn, and river. These are five cards that players can use to try and improve their starting hand.

There will be a number of scenarios during the game where you’ll be uncertain of the best action to take. The following tips have been mathematically tested and verified and will help you make the best decisions in certain situations.

In a situation where you have only a pair, draw the remaining three cards during the draw round.

If you happen to end up with two pair, discard only the unpaired card.

Anytime you end up with trips (three-of-a-kind), discard the other two cards. Whenever you have three cards to a flush or a straight, don’t draw.

In a nutshell, hold on to one pair, two pair, three-of-a-kind, and discard the appropriate cards.

1pair and 2 pairs in 5 card draw
Correct play is to discard 3 cards when you have a pair (non-pair ones), and one card when you hold two pair. This gives you the best mathematical odds to improve your hand.

Bluffing In 5 Card Draw: How Effective Is It?

5 card draw is very popular for being a bluffing game. I’ve seen several movie scenes involving people playing 5 card draw and suddenly one player pulls off a very big, stone cold bluff to win the pot, which is usually massive.

Think you can pull that off in real life? Not likely. The truth is that bluffing in 5 card draw isn’t as exciting as the media or people make it out to be. Yes, bluffing is an important aspect of 5 card draw and poker in general. But there are many other elements to 5 card draw than bluffing.

An experienced player will easily see through your facade if you bluff too often. And he/she will adjust their strategy and focus more on the strength of his/her hand.

Generally, you don’t have much information about the holdings of your opponents in 5 card draw. All cards are dealt face down meaning you only have knowledge of your cards. There are also no shared cards. The only information you have is the number of cards your opponents are discarding.

For example, if one of your opponents is only exchanging one card, you can assume he/she has a strong hand like two pair or a four-card straight or flush draw.

You also have to consider the fact that your opponents can use your drawings to predict your hand so you should always try to mislead them.

How important is skill in five card draw?

Every variant of poker requires an element of skill. The good thing about 5 card draw is that its skills are generally not complicated. You’ll find out that your opponents will find it very difficult to have a solid advantage over after mastering the fundamentals of the game.

Experience is also important. You aren’t the only skillful play out there. Players experienced in the game will be able to pick up on what they are doing if you don’t add variety to your gameplay.

If you happen to identify a player that’s bluffing too much, you should look to exploit him/her. Play more games with such players and let them transfer some cash to the pot when you have a strong hand. You’ll have to rely on your instincts and experience in 5 card draw. Not much information is available to you as I’ve mentioned in the preceding subheading. It’s up to you to play your opponents and boost your chances of winning.

Getting paid big in 5 card draw.
Make sure you get paid when you hit big hands. This quickly adds to bigger winrate.

One important skill in 5 card draw is the ability to get paid when you make big hands. You’ll receive a good number of good hands over the course of the game. However, it’s what you do with your hands that matter. People experienced in the game won’t be putting money in the pot when they have weak hands with the intention of catching a rare bluff.

But the good thing is that there will always be players that can’t help themselves. And they are the ones that will keep putting money In the pot and increase the size of your potential winnings.

Why you should learn to play 5 card poker?

5 card poker may not be as popular as it used to be in mainstream poker circles but this doesn’t make the game any less interesting. It’s a good game to play at home with your friends and family. 5 card poker will sure add some flavor to your recreational time at home. Playing Texas Hold’em everytime can become boring quickly.

You can also make good money from playing 5 card draw. There are poker sites that offer juicy 5 card draw games. A quick Google search will reveal such poker sites to you. And many people who play on online poker sites are mostly there for fun, so you’ll have a significant advantage if you have a solid understanding of the game. In a nutshell, 5 card draw is generally less competitive than other forms of poker.

Learning new variants of poker is always fun. You get to see things from different perspectives and broaden your thinking. Also, no knowledge is wasted. A juicy 5 card draw game may pop up some time and you’ll be able to use your skills to compete and hopefully win.

A lot of experts in Texas Hold’em and Omaha got their first taste of poker through 5 card draw. The game is a good variant of poker to introduce beginners to the beautiful game we all love and enjoy. Also, the game is easy to learn.

Remember not to get too fancy when playing 5 card draw. A solid and sensible approach is all you need to achieve good results in the game. Getting out of line or playing outside your strategy will bleed you of your precious chips and you’ll burn your bankroll in no time.