One of the simplest variants of poker, and one that is many poker player’s first introduction to the game of poker, is 5-Card Poker.In five-card draw poker, each player is dealt five cards and has the opportunity to bet and exchange cards to try for the highest hand.
If you have played any other form of poker, 5-card draw rules are similar in that the aim of the game is to make the best five-card poker hand. Hand rankings, from weakest to strongest, are as follows:
- High card
- One pair
- Two pair
- Full house
- Straight flush
- Royal Flush
When it comes to preflop betting, there are two different methods used in 5-card draw. Either all players pay an ante before receiving their cards or there is a small blind and big blind similar to hold’em and Omaha games.
Three different betting structures exist for 5-card draw. You can play fixed-limit, pot-limit, or even no-limit 5-card draw. While all three formats play to the same rules, the different betting structures mean your strategy needs to be adapted. For example, some hands that you wouldn’t play in fixed-limit 5-card draw become playable in no-limit 5-card draw because in the latter you can bet enough to force your opponent to fold. Regardless of the betting structure, this is how to play 5-card draw.
Once everyone has paid the ante or the blinds, each player receives five cards face down. A round of betting then occurs. If more than one player remains after that first round of betting, there follows a first round of drawing. Each active player specifies how many cards he or she wishes to discard and replace with new cards from the deck. If you are happy with your holding and do not want to draw any cards, you “stand pat.”
Once the drawing round is completed, there is another round of betting. After that if there is more than one player remaining, a showdown occurs in which the player with the best five-card Poker hand wins.
As you can see, the rules for 5-card draw are simple and make for a fast-paced game, which is why the game is popular with new, less experienced players.
Basic 5-Card Draw Strategy
Lesser-skilled 5-card draw players often fall into playing far too many hands, particularly hands drawing to a straight or flush. In many cases, the saying “tight is right” applies when it comes to starting hand selection in 5-card draw.
As in games with community cards, your position in relation to the button is also important in 5-card draw Poker. The closer to the button you are, the wider the range of hands you can play profitably. Regardless of your position, you should almost always enter the pot with a raise because limping in usually results in several other players limping behind, which in turn means you need a much stronger hand to win the pot.
Play tight from early positions and raise with hands such as aces or kings. As your position improves, you can add other high pairs such as queens, jacks, tens, and nines, so long as the latter has a good kicker to back it up.
Those of you fortunate enough to have been dealt two pair or three-of-a-kind should always come out raising whether you’re under the gun or on the button. Meanwhile be wary of holdings such as four to a straight or flush, because these are hands with which some players bleed away their bankroll. With one card to come, you’re around a 4-to-1 underdog to hit your hand, and often you won’t have the correct pot odds to attempt filling your straight or flush, particularly in a short-handed game.
What Should I Discard in 5-Card Draw?
Knowing what cards to discard during the drawing round is what makes and breaks a 5-card Poker player. On a basic level you should consider the following:
- Holding one pair — draw three cards
- Holding two pair — draw one card
- Holding three-of-a-kind — draw two cards