How To Play 5 Card Draw Poker – 5 Card Draw Rules, Odds, Tips & More


5 Card Poker is nowhere near as popular as it used to be a few decades ago.

Still, you may get a chance to play it in a home game and there are still some poker sites offering 5 Card Draw games.

So let’s take a look at what 5 Card Draw is, how to play, the rules, and the best strategies for winning.

What Is 5 Card Draw?

5 Card Draw is a simple variation of poker, where all players are dealt five cards at the start. The game is played using a standard deck of 52 cards and uses the same hand rankings as in Texas Hold’em.

How To Play 5 Card Draw Poker

As far as the gameplay is concerned, 5 Card Draw is one of the easiest poker variations to learn.

You’ll need a deck
of cards and some chips or something to track the betting, and you’re good to

Because of the
way the cards are dealt, having more than 6 players at the table is not ideal, although
it is possible. The game is usually played in a five or six-handed format.

Each round
begins with players posting blinds, just like in Texas Hold’em. Blinds are
posted by the players seated to the immediate left of the dealer position.

Antes aren’t mandatory, but they’re more common in 5 Card Draw than in Hold’em.

Once blinds are
posted, and cards are shuffled, the deal begins with the first card off the
deck going to the player in the small blind position and going around the table

Players are
dealt one card at a time, face down until everyone has five cards in their
hand. Once the dealing is done, the play can begin.

5 Card Draw Rules

Most players are
accustomed to community card poker games like Hold’em and Omaha.

However, as 5 Card Draw is a draw poker variant – meaning each player is dealt a complete hand before the first betting round – there are no community cards and the gameplay is quite different.

Once all players
have their five cards, the first betting round begins. The action starts with
the first player seated to the left of the big blind, the UTG position.

It’s worth mentioning that 5 Card Draw is usually played as either the fixed limit or the pot limit.

While no-limit
games exist as well, they’re quite rare.

Betting Rules In 5 Card Draw

The first player
to act has the same options you’d have in Hold’em, meaning they can:

  • Fold – ending their participation in the hand.
  • Call – matching the big blind amount.
  • Raise – depending on the betting structure, the raise size is either fixed, capped at the size of the pot, or unlimited up to the amount a player has in their stack.
5 Card Draw poker betting rules

The action then
moves to the next player to the left, who can fold, call the action in front of
them, or raise it again.

The betting
rules are no different from those in most other variants, so you should have no
problems in this aspect.

Once all the
players have had the opportunity to take their actions and the betting is over,
the game progresses to the draw stage.

The Drawing Stage –
Exchanging Your Cards

The draw stage
begins with the small blind player or the first still-active player to the left
of the small blind position.

They have an
option to discard as many cards as they want from their hand and exchange them
for fresh cards from the deck.

A player can
also choose not to exchange any cards, which is known as standing pat.

A player will
pick the cards they want to discard and place them onto the table to exchange
their cards. The dealer will pick up the cards and deal out the matching number
of new cards.

The purpose of
the drawing stage is to allow players to improve their hands.

For example, if
you have four cards of the same suit, you’ll exchange the non-suited card in
hopes of completing your flush.

All active
players have the opportunity to exchange their cards during this stage. The
action moves clockwise, just like during the betting stage.

After all the
players have exchanged the cards, the final betting round ensues.

The Second Betting

The betting
rules during the second round are exactly the same as those used in Hold’em.

The action begins
with the small blind or the first active player to the left of the small blind
and continues clockwise.

The only
difference from the first betting round is that players can opt to “check” if
there are no aggressive actions, passing the action to the next player.

The betting will
continue until all players have had their say. If one player manages to get
everyone else to fold, they’ll win the pot by default.

Otherwise, the
game will proceed to the showdown, where the winner will be determined based on
the best hand.

The Showdown

5 Card Draw  showdown

As mentioned earlier, 5 Card Draw uses the poker standard hand rankings, meaning hand strengths are exactly the same as in Texas Hold’em.

The weakest
possible holding is a high card and the strongest hand you can have is a royal
flush. Straights beat trips and flushes beat straights.

Once the game
reaches the showdown stage, all players will flip over their hands and let the cards
speak. The dealer will compare all the hands, and the player with the best combination
wins the pot.

If two or more
players have the same best hand, they’ll split the pot like in other variants.

One important thing to note is that suits don’t make any difference in 5 Card Draw hand rankings.

Unlike community card games, players in 5 Card Draw can have flushes in different suits. When this happens, beginners are often confused as to who should win if both flushes contain the same cards.

Without going off
on a tangent, just remember that suits are completely irrelevant when
determining the winner. A flush in clubs is just as strong as a flush in

Of course, this
only applies if two players have the exact same hand.

Otherwise, the
player with the single highest card in their combination wins. I.e., As Ks Js
7s 2s beats Ac Kc Jc 5c 4c as the 7 beats the 5.

5 Card Draw Strategy And Tips

Just like any other poker variation, 5 Card Draw has its own tricks and strategies you should be familiar with to beat the opposition and come out ahead.

Here are some
basic tips to help you get started with the game.

Good Starting Hands In 5 Card Draw Poker

Knowing which
hands to throw away and which ones to continue with is essential in all poker

If you’re a
Hold’em player, you probably know just how important the starting hand
selection is

5 Card Draw is no different in this regard.

If you get
involved with too many bad hands, you’ll end up in tough spots where you’ll
have to take weak hands to a showdown or turn your missed draws into bluffs way
too often.

In general, you should only get involved with fairly strong hands, especially in early positions. This means high pocket pairs (QQ+) and good draws (four to a straight and four to flush).

Of course, the
better your position, the more you can expand your range. But understand that
small pocket pairs are weak hands in this game and, unless you improve, you
won’t win with them often.

Hands containing
two pairs or greater are considered strong hands that you can play from any

Of course, you
should still exercise caution and pay attention to your opponents’ actions.

3 card draws are basically trash hands that should be discarded unless you are in the blinds and can get to the draw round for free.

Bluffing In 5 Card Draw

Poker bluff

Unlike Hold’em,
this game gives you very little information about what your opponent might be

This means
pulling successful bluffs is much easier, especially in pot-limit and no-limit

It’s hard to come up with an exact bluffing guide since, like so many other things in poker, it’s very situational.

However, you
should pay attention to two things, whether you’re the one bluffing or trying
to pick off a bluff:

  • Your opponents’ tendencies
  • The number of cards exchanged

The latter is
very important as it can give you a lot of information about someone’s
potential holdings.

For example, if
they exchanged just one card and are now betting big, the story is that they
were on a big draw that came in, or they had two pairs and filled up.

If someone stood
pat, it means they were dealt a big hand right off the bat – or at least that’s
what they want you to believe.

Of course, the
same applies when you’re the one pulling a bluff.

If you want to
tell a convincing story, it’s probably not a good idea to start by exchanging
four cards. It’s way less likely that you have a big hand after you did that
than after exchanging one or two cards.

All this being
said, if you’re new to the game, don’t go crazy with your bluffs. Just like in
Hold’em, waiting for big hands and playing them fast will be the winning

As long as you
throw in an occasional bluff, so your opponents know you’re capable of it, you
should have no problems charging them when you have the nuts.

Tips For Drawing

How do you know
what cards to hold and what to discard when it’s your turn to act?

The rules aren’t
exactly set in stone and your decision will depend on what you want to achieve.

For example, if
you want to leave yourself more room to bluff, you might want to exchange only
two cards when exchanging three would give you the best odds of improving.

That said, here
are a few simple when just starting. After you gather some experience, you can
start experimenting with different strategies and see how they work for you:

  • With one pair hands, keep the
    pair and take three new cards.
  • When holding three of a kind,
    exchange the two dangling cards for new ones.
  • Never break a two-pair hand and
    just exchange the dangling card.
  • If you have four to a straight
    or a flush, keep the draw and exchange the odd card.

Where To Play 5 Card Draw Poker Online

Since 5 Card Draw isn’t particularly popular these days, there aren’t many online poker sites offering it.

That said, if
you’re feeling nostalgic or want to learn the ropes by playing against real
opponents, the good news is there are still a few rooms offering this classic
poker variation.


PokerStars is
probably your best bet as it offers low-stakes cash games that are the perfect
training ground for those just starting.

It’s also one of
the rare places where you can still find occasional 5-Card Draw poker
tournaments across all stakes.


Unibet may not
be as big as PokerStars but you will still find a fair number of option.

Traffic isn’t as
good as on PokerStars, but there are usually a few games going, so you can jump
into the action around the clock.

You’ll find an
occasional 5-Card Draw poker tournament as well with affordable buy-ins and
modest prize pools, which is a solid deal if you just want to have fun playing
this classic variation.

Both PokerStars
and Unibet are on our list of recommended
poker sites

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