Five Card Draw is one of the simplest versions of poker there is. It’s relatively easy to learn – even if you’ve never played poker in any form. The rules are really quite basic, and we’ve explained them all on this page for you.
Once you’ve learned the rules of Five Card Draw you may well wish to learn a little more about the game. We have some more information on the following page, which also includes a list of the best poker sites for playing Five Card Draw online. You can play for free at most of these sites, so you can get used to the game without risking any of your own money if you wish to – Five Card Draw Guide.
Five Card Draw is played using a standard deck of playing cards. Up to eight players can play but, as it is possible to run out of cards with seven or more players, games are usually limited to a maximum of six. The goal in this form of poker is the same as it is in most others – to win the pot containing all the chips bet in any given hand. A pot can be won by having the best five card poker hand at showdown or by forcing all other players to fold.
In each hand players are dealt five cards to start with. They then have an opportunity to exchange some of them in an attempt to improve their hand. Up to two betting rounds can take place, but a hand can end after the first round if all but one of the players fold.
The standard five card poker hand rankings apply in Five Card Draw. If you’re not aware of these rankings then you should use the following table (which starts with the best possible hand) to familiarize yourself with them.
Blinds & Antes
Before starting a game of Five Card Draw it must be agreed whether antes or blinds are going to be used. If antes are being used, then each participating player pays a forced bet at the start of each hand. If blinds are being used then the player to the left of the dealer pays a forced bet known as the small blind at the start of each hand, and the player to their left pays the big blind.
The size of any antes or blinds being used must also be agreed. When blinds are used, it’s common for the big blind to be twice the size of the small blind.
The Deal & Initial Betting Round
Once the antes or blinds have been paid, each player is dealt five face down cards. Players can look at their cards and then the first round of betting takes place. If antes are being used then the player to the left of the dealer acts first and if blinds are being used the player to the left of the big blind acts first. Play then moves around the table in a clockwise direction. Please note that the dealer position moves one player to the left at the end of each hand.
During the first betting round players can fold their cards if they do not wish to put any more chips in the pot. Once a player folds they play no further part in the hand. Players can also choose to call, which means matching the size of any previously made bet, or raise, which means betting an amount higher than any previously made bet.
The action continues until all players have either matched the highest bet made or folded. If all players except for one fold then the remaining player wins the pot at that point. If two or more players remain, then play continues to the draw.
The Draw & Second Betting Round
During the draw, the remaining players can choose to swap some of the cards in their hand for new cards from the deck. In most games players can swap any number of cards they choose to but in some games the rules may stipulate that players can swap a maximum of three. The player to the left of the dealer makes their exchange first and play then proceeds around the table in a clockwise direction.
Following the draw, a second round of betting takes place. This uses the same format as the first betting round. Once it’s complete, if there is only one player remaining they win the pot. If two or more players remain, then play continues to the showdown.
At the showdown the remaining players show their hands to see who has the best one. The player with the strongest hand (as per the hand rankings shown above) is declared the winner and is awarded the pot. If two or more players tie for the strongest hand then it’s a split pot and the chips are shared equally between those players.