5 Card Poker Rules | Official Rules of 5-Card Draw & 5-Card Stud
5-Card Draw or 5-Card Stud are classic poker variations you likely learned to play at the kitchen table with your Grandfather using matchsticks and pennies.
Both are very easy to learn and play. And because all of the cards are hidden to the other players the game of in 5-Card Draw, it involves quite a bit of luck and slightly less skill than most of the more modern poker variants.
It's not a variation that’s commonly spread in casinos these days but a number of online poker rooms do offer the game. If you're looking to try your hand at some 5-Card Poker, here are the rules of both 5-Card Stud and 5-Card Draw to get you started
5-Card Poker Rules
5-Card Poker is occasionally played with blinds just like Texas Holdem but it's more common with an ante - a small amount posted by all participating players before the cards are dealt.
When the antes have been posted all players are then dealt their cards. In 5-Card Draw players are dealt five cards face down all at once. All of the five cards remain hidden and can not be seen by anyone else until the showdown.
In 5-Card Stud, much like 7-Card Stud, you're dealt your first card face down. Then your second card is dealt face-up. A betting round is played and then a thrid card is dealt face-up. Another betting round, another face-up card and then a final round of the same to give you four cards face up and one face down.
Both variations of 5-Card Poker are high games so your final 5-card poker hand is ranked according to the official poker hand rankings. Check the rankings out here:
How to Play 5-Card Draw
Simply put, 5-Card Draw is a classic poker game. It might be the game you learned sitting around the kitchen table with Grandma and Grandpa, or it might not, but either way it's the one that evokes some of the most nostalgic feelings about poker.
And make no mistake: it's a very simple game at its core with few rules and comparatively simple strategy techniques. But there's just something about the game that makes it special.
If there's not enough action in it to play it for an entire home game it's always fun to mix in a few rounds if you're playing dealer's choice.
The Basic Rules of 5-Card Draw
As we mentioned, the basic rules of 5-Card Draw are fairly simple. You can play it as either an ante game or a blinds game - it's really up to you.
Antes is the original way to play 5-Card Draw with each player putting in a small bet before the hand is dealt. If you play with the blinds it works the same way Texas Holdem does with a small blind and big blind that rotate around the table.
If you play with Antes the player to the left of the dealer will act first after the deal; if you're playing with blinds the player to the left of the big blind will act first.
5-Card Draw - The Deal
Once the antes or blinds have been paid the dealer deals out five cards, all face down, to each player. There are no community cards (cards in the middle of the table all players can share to make up their best hand) in 5-Card Draw as there are in Holdem.
Once each player has all five cards the player to the left of the dealer (in an ante game) starts the first round of betting. He or she can choose between folding or making an opening bet. The players behind can then fold, call or raise an opening bet.
A quick note on betting: 5-Card Draw can be played as either Fixed-Limit, Pot-Limit or No-Limit. The betting sizes will be the same as they are in any other poker variation. So for example if the stakes are $1/$2 the small bet is $1 and the big bet is $2.
How Many Cards Can I Draw in 5-Card Draw?
Once all players have acted in the first betting round, it's time for the draw. All remaining players are allowed to exchange some amount of cards in search of a better hand. Just how many cards can you exchange? That depends on the house rules.
A fairly common house rule in Five-Card Draw is a player can’t exchange more than three cards. This is the default setting for most home poker games as it evens out the playing field a bit.
In many variations of 5-Card Draw poker, though, four or all five cards can be exchanged. Check the table or house rules, of course, before you buy in to any 5-Card Draw games so you know how many cards you can draw.
How Many Cards Should I Exchange in 5-Card Draw?
The next question, of course: how many cards should you get rid of in 5-Card Draw? Again, that depends. As a general rule for beginners, this guideline isn't too bad:
If you have a pair: Draw three cards
If you have two pair: Draw one card
If you have a set (3 of a kind): Draw two cards
This is pretty self-explanatory. As you advance in strategy you'll want to mix things up a bit but by sticking to those basic rules as a beginner you won't stray too far from optimal strategy.
If you're holding four cards to a straight or flush it might look pretty good to draw one but if you're waiting on that last card to fill up your hand you're still a pretty big underdog (4-1) to hit it. So make sure the pot odds are there to make your hand chasing worthwhile.
The total number of cards you can draw will also affect your optimal strategy plays so take that into consideration, too.
What is Standing Pat?
If a player chooses to not exchange any cards in a draw round that is called “standing pat.” It's usually the sign of a very strong hand, obviously, but it can be used deceptively to mask a semi-strong hand that can bluff an opponent off of a drawing hand that fails to come in.
5-Card Draw Psychology
With no open or shared cards among players in Five-Card Draw the psychology of playing the draw is pretty significant when it comes to betting. For example if you have a pair in your hand, it makes the most statistical sense to draw three cards to try to improve your hand.
To the other players at the table, though, that’s a pretty sure sign you have a pair and they’ll know exactly what you’re holding.
To try and mask their hands players will sometimes just draw one or two cards to make it less obvious that they have a pair. Likewise, if a player is drawing just one card to try and complete a flush or straight, it’s a pretty good sign of the strength of the hand.
In order to not be a predictable player it’s a good idea to vary the numbers of cards drawn in comparable situations, although improving your chances of improving your hand with the maximum number of cards is also an important idea.
The Second Betting Round
Once everyone has exchanged their cards there is a second and final betting round which begins with the first player to the left of the dealer who is still in the hand. Again, players left in the hand can fold, call or raise an opening bet.
If two or more players are still in the hand after the final round of betting, there is a showdown. The player with the best five-card poker hand according to standard poker hand rankings wins the pot.
Where Can I Play 5-Card Draw Online?
The best place to play 5-Card Draw online right now is at PokerStars, where they offer a few different games and limits. You won't always be able to find a game at the times and stakes you want but the action there is by far the best online at the moment. You can even try it our for free at the play-money tables.
Visit our PokerStars review to download the software and access our up to $600 sign-up bonus:
How to Play 5-Card Stud Poker
5-Card Stud poker, on the other hand, is played much like it's more famous relative 7-Card Stud. It's the oldest form of Stud Poker, dating back all the way to the Civil War, but has fallen out of favor in recent years.
It's a bit harder to find online or live but if you start with PokerStars you'll likely be in luck finding a game or two in progress.
Basic Rules of 5-Card Stud Poker
5-Card Stud is an ante game so before the deal every player at the tables has to post the ante - a small bet that allows you to see the deal and that creates a small pot to start playing for.
Once each poker has put in their respective ante the dealer deals out one card face down and one card face up to each player. This is different from 7-Card Stud, obviously, where two face-down cards and one face-up card are dealt.
The Bring In
Similar to 7-Card Stud, though, the player that has the lowest up-card showing now has to make a forced bet called "the bring-in."
The bring-in player can then "complete" the bet to the size of the small bet at the table (eg. $1) or make a raise according to the table limits.
Once the bring-in has been made, each player in order clockwise gets to either fold, call the size of the bet or raise according to the table bets limits. If the bring-in player does not complete the bet, the player to his left has the option to complete the bet.
Once all players have has a chance to act in the first round of betting, all players who have met the bet total move on to Third Street. The dealer then deal a third card to each player, again face up. That mean each player has one card face down and two showing face up now.
Another betting round now begins with the player that has the highest hand showing going first. If two players have the same high hand, the one closest to the button goes first.
On third street in 5-Card Stud that bets are still capped at the small amount set at the table (eg. $1 at $1/$2 stakes). Also Note: If a player has a pair showing they CANNOT make a double bet as they can in 7-Card Stud.
Fourth and Fifth Street
After the betting round is complete all players still in the hand are dealt a fourth card, again face up. So the total is now:
- 1 card face down
- 3 cards face up
Another betting round begins with the highest showing hand again going first. The bets on 4th and 5th street are now in increments of the big bet amount.
Once the betting round is complete all players left in the hand proceed to the fifth and final card, which is dealt face up as well. Total is now:
- 1 card face down
- 4 cards face up
This is different from 7-Card Stud where the final card is dealt face down.
A final betting round is then initiated by the player with the highest hand showing. All players left at the end of the betting round then proceed to the showdown with the best five-card hand taking the pot.
Again if you need a refresher on the Best 5-Card Poker Hand Rankings, check our chart here:
Play 5-Card Poker Online Free!
Both variations of 5-Card Poker detailed above are great fun to play and can be found online. PokerStars has always been a leading light when it comes to the more obscure poker variations but be sure to check our full reviews to see which sites are currently offering 5-Card Draw or 5-Card Stud. Here are our review pages: