Five Card Draw Overview

Five Card Draw is the oldest form of poker that is still commonly played today. It’s one of the easiest poker variations to learn and it is also the first poker game many of us learned as children. Even though little is known about its exact origins, Five Card Draw has a long, rich history that is closely intertwined with the history of the Wild West in the United States.

Nobody is sure how exactly Five Card Draw came to be but it most likely evolved from other card games that date back centuries. In the United States, Five Card Draw was first played on river boats in the early 1800s. At that point, the game only used 20 cards from the deck and was widely considered a rip off.

Eventually, the game was changed to include a complete deck of 52 cards and after that it closely resembled the game we recognize today. Five Card Draw spent most of the 1800s as the most popular variation of poker but it was dethroned by Seven Card Stud during the early 1900s.

Today, Five Card Draw is still widely recognized but it isn’t played for real money as often as Texas Holdem, Omaha or Seven Card Stud. Many casinos and online poker sites still offer 5 Card Draw, however, and it has a loyal fan base. There are also some Five Card Draw Variations you may want to learn about.

How to Play 5 Card Draw

Five Card Draw is played with an “ante,” which is a small bet that each player must make at the beginning of each hand. The size of the ante varies from one casino to the next but it’s usually somewhere in the range of 10% to 20% the size of the upper betting limit.

After the antes have been paid, each player at the table is dealt five cards, all of which will be face down. This is followed by a round of betting that begins with the player to the left of the dealer and then continues to the left around the table.

After the first series or round of betting has been completed, the players may now discard as many cards as they wish and draw new ones at random from the deck. The drawing phase is then followed up by another round of betting that begins with the player to the left of the dealer.

The final round of betting is followed by a showdown between the players remaining in the hand. The players show their hands and the player who holds the best 5 card poker hand is declared the winner and takes down the pot.

Optional Blinds Setup

Instead of using antes, Five Card Draw can be played with blinds like Texas Holdem. In the blinds system, the first two players located to the left of the dealer must pay small, forced bets called the “blinds.”

The player immediatly left to the dealer is required to post the small blind. The person directly to the left of this player, or the small blind, will be required to post the big blind before any dealing will start. The small blind is equal to 1/2 the amount of the big blind and the big blind is equal to one small bet.

Once the blinds have been paid and the cards dealt, the first round of betting starts with the first player located directly to the left of the big blind. This player must then either pay one small bet to stay in, raise or fold. The second betting round begins with the first player to the left of the dealer and that player may check, bet or fold.

Dealer’s Button

If the game uses a full time dealer, it is a good idea to use a small token (called the “dealer’s button”) to represent the position of the dealer each hand. The dealer’s button should move one seat to the left at the beginning of each hand. This is done so that the same player does not have to act first every single hand.

Optional Drawing Rule

Many home games enforce a rule that restricts players to drawing a maximum of three cards during the draw phase. If a player has an ace, that player may draw four cards if he or she shows the ace to the table.

Basic Strategy

Very little information is revealed in Five Card Draw because you never get a chance to see any of your opponents’ cards. The only clues you’ll have as to the strength of your opponents’ hands will be based on how many cards your opponents draw, what kind of bets they make and any physical tells you can pick up. This makes 5 Card Draw a very psychological game.

1. Be Patient

You won’t catch strong hands in Five Card Draw very often so you need to be patient and willing to fold if your hand doesn’t pan out. If your starting cards are weak and there is a lot of betting, you should fold instead of hope you can catch a lucky break during the draw phase.

2. Recognize Common Betting Lines

If an opponent makes a raise before the draw, then stands pat and raises again after the draw, it’s a signal that your opponent has a strong hand. Another common pattern is when an opponent draws a single card and then starts betting. That opponent may have just completed a draw and is now betting with it.

The problem with these two common betting lines is that your opponents can use them as bluffs. You’ll have to keep a close eye on your opponents and get used to their styles of play. Sometimes they may be bluffing and sometimes they may be telling the truth. You’ll have to use your best judgment to decide which is which.

Where to Play 5 Card Draw

Since there isn't a big fan base to the poker game, there aren't too many online poker sites that support the game. We have put together some of the best options for anyone looking to play the game online, just check out our best 5 Card Draw sites page.

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