Five Card Draw Poker Rules | Official Rules of 5 Card Draw
Five-Card Draw is the classic poker variation you likely learned to play at the kitchen table with your Grandfather using matchsticks and pennies.
It's very easy to learn and play, but because all of the cards are hidden to the other players the game 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.
How to Play Five-Card Draw
All players are dealt five hole cards to begin with but players’ hands can change considerably after the draw.
There are also fewer betting rounds than in other poker variations.
Five-Card Draw 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 dealt five cards face down. All of the five cards remain hidden and can not be seen by anyone else until the showdown.
The First Betting Round
The player to the left of the dealer starts the first round of betting. He or she can choose between folding or making an opening bet.
The players behind can fold, call or raise an opening bet.
When all players have acted in the first betting round, it's time for the draw. All remaining players are allowed to exchange any or all of their cards.
A fairly common house rule in Five-Card Draw is a player can’t exchange more than three cards, but in many variations four or all five cards can be exchanged.
If a player chooses to not exchange any cards, 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.
Psychology of the Draw
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.