Draw poker rules

draw-poker rules

Draw-poker is one of the oldest types of poker. This kind of poker suits the home games more, as it’s famous for its simplicity, fast game and it is simple enough to learn.

The main task of the game is to get the opponent's chips. In cash games, chips have cash value and can be exchanged for real money. The goal of the tournament is to become the last remaining player with all the chips.

Often a 5-card draw is played with a small number of participants due to the number of cards in the deck. An attempt to play a game for 10 players with only 52 cards can cause difficulties. 

If no one folds and one player wants to exchange 5 cards, the game simply will not go through. You can face the same difficulties even with 6 participants. So in this article, we will get acquainted with the rules of the draw-poker game, its combinations and also with the varieties of the game.

Draw-poker is divided into several types:

  • 5-card draw poker
  • 2-7 triple draw
  • 2-7 single draw lowball

5-Card Draw Poker Rules

Here are the rules of 5-card draw poker. Let’s start from positions, which are basically the same as in no-limit hold’em. There is a “button” that moves clockwise round the table and points to the player’s spot. Button is the strongest position where the decisions are made in the last turn. Also, there are blinds (small and big) in the game, which make the forced bets. The small blind always bets first and the button is the last to make a bet.

5-Card Draw Poker Rules

Dealing the cards. Each player at the table gets 5 cards facedown. Then the first betting round starts from the first active player to the left of the big blind. The players can fold, call the big blind and make a raise. After the bets are made the players remaining in the hand (i.e who didn’t fold) have the possibility to exchange any of their cards (from 0 to 5) for other ones in order to improve their hand. The exchange in 5 card draw-poker is free of charge.

The exchange occurs clockwise based on the positions at the table. If the player wants to keep all of his cards, he has the “stand pat” option, i.e not to change his cards to other ones.

Then the last betting round begins. After the exchange stage, the players have an extra possibility to make a bet based on the strength of their hand. Showdown comes after the end of the betting round. The player with the best combination wins the pot. However, there is one feature: the suit is not taken into account in determining the winner, i.e all suits are equal. If two or more hands have identical combinations, the pot is split equally.

Let's summarize the sequence of actions once more:

  • Dealing the cards facedown
  • First betting round
  • The exchange
  • Second betting round
  • Showdown

The combinations in draw poker are the same as in Hold’em.

Poker combinations

5-Card Draw Poker Features

  • In 5-Card Draw poker, only hole cards are used to make poker combinations because there are no community cards.
  • Participants involved in the hand are prohibited to show cards to each other, even if they fold them.
  • Each player is able to exchange any number of hole cards to make the best combination – from one to five cards. In return, they receive the same number of cards from the deck.
  • A player can miss the exchange if they are satisfied with the starting hand.
  • When making a decision, players need to take into account different factors: their pocket cards, a position at the table, the size of the opponents' bets, etc.
  • There are a few types of decisions that can be made in 5-card draw poker. They are as follows: fold, bet, check, call, raise, re-raise, all-in.
  • If a player has enough chips, they can’t bet less than the size of the previous bet.
  • A dealer can open a new deck of cards and continue to deal them, or shuffle the cards that players folded earlier and use them as a “new” deck. 
  • The ranking of hands is exactly the same as in NLHE: from the weakest combination (high card) to the strongest one (royal flush).
  • If none of the players has collected a winning combination, then the one who holds an ace wins the pot.
  • Five-card draw poker games can be carried out with any betting structure – with a fixed limit or without it.

Hand example

Suppose that there are 4 players in the game – “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”.

So all the players post ante of $1. Dealer “A” deals 5 cards facedown to each player.

Let’s consider the play of participant “D”, who has got the following cards – Q 9 8 5 of diamonds and 2 of hearts (he needs to exchange 2 of hearts in order to get a card of diamonds).

Player “B” starts the betting round and makes a bet of $5. Player “C” folds, player “D” calls, player “A” also makes a call hereby completing the betting round.

“B” decides to exchange 3 cards and gives them away. Dealer “A” deals 3 cards to player “B” and he adds them to his hand. “D” gives one card away and gets 3 of diamonds from the dealer. Now, it is player “A” turn to act, they exchange 3 cards.

The second betting round comes. "B" checks, "D" also checks, "A" bets $10 and "B" folds. "D" raises to $16, "A" calls and completes the betting round.

On the showdown: "D" demonstrates a flush, player "A" has two pair.

Therefore, participant "D" wins the pot.

Five Card Draw Strategy Tips

  1. Consider your position at the table when choosing starting hands. If you play from UTG, it is recommended to enter the game with a strong pair or better.
  2. Button is the best position, as this player is always the last to act on the postflop. The blinds are the last to make a decision on the preflop, but they always act first postflop.
  3. Strong draws represent hands that include four cards of the same suit or four consecutive cards. These hands can be played from late positions or when more than one person has entered the pot.
  4. Avoid limping. Most poker players limp on the preflop to see the flop, so that you can use this, especially if you are in position.
  5. Keep in mind that, raising increases your chances of taking the pot before the exchange.
  6. It is advisable to change those cards that do not form combinations. For example, if you have a pair, then you should exchange the other three cards, expecting to collect a set or two pair.
  7. Despite the fact that you do not see your rivals’ cards, you can see how many cards your opponents change during the exchange. This information can help you guess what combination they have.
  8. You can also try to mislead our opponents and take the wrong number of cards from the deck. For example, a player needs to change 3 cards to make a hand, but they change just one card to misguide other participants involved in the hand. In addition, a player can miss the exchange to make their opponents believe that they have already made a combination.
  9. As with No Limit Texas Hold'em, we also need to spend time analyzing our opponents' actions. Perhaps our rivals like to bluff, or vice versa, they never bluff. This is very important information that we can use to win the hand.

Five Card Draw Pros and Cons

  • It is a simple and exciting game, especially for beginners, as the 5-Card Draw rules are extremely easy-to-learn.
  • This is probably the best game that can help you learn to understand the strength of poker hands.
  • In 5-Card Draw games, there are usually many opponents who either do not fully understand the game strategy or do not know the rules of Draw poker at all, so that more advanced players can easily win money from them.
  • It is not difficult to find draw poker games online; some top poker rooms even offer to play these games for "fake" money.
  • There are no community cards, so it may be difficult for you to make assumptions about the strength of your opponents' hands having minimum information.
  • Live draw poker games are not easy to find.

As well as in 5 card draw poker, in this game 5 cards are dealt facedown, blinds are posted, a betting round is held and the cards are exchanged.

But there are some distinctions: the exchange of cards occurs 3 times and the weakest hands win.

For instance, a straight or flush will be a losing hand, since its power doesn’t fit this game. In 2-7 triple draw, 23457 (unsuited) is the strongest combination, because the hand 23456 forms a straight. Also, Aces are high cards, that’s why one cannot collect an A2345 straight. Therefore, the weaker your cards are, the better. High cards are always compared in combinations, i.e 86532 beats 95432, a pair of triples are stronger than a pair of fours, a set beats a straight, and straight is stronger than flush.

In order to better understand this game, we suggest that you watch a video on how to play 2-7 Triple Draw from the well-known poker pro Danial Negrenu:

The principle of playing 2-7 single-draw lowball is the same, but the main distinction of this type is that participants can make only one exchange of cards. More detailed information about the game, its rules and combinations you can read on our website in the article about the rules of the 2-7 lowball game.

As you saw, the game itself and the rules of draw-poker are not complicated. That’s why we wish you good luck in mastering the game and success at the tables.

Final thoughts

Draw poker is one of the most popular five-card games. It is believed that this discipline became an ancestor for other card games. This discipline occupies third place among popular online games, and in some countries, it reaches the second or even first line in terms of the number of fans.

Draw poker rules are easy-to-learn but at the same time, they are very different from popular games like Texas Hold'em and Omaha. Therefore, you should master the discipline before switching to it.  

Playing it successfully requires a particularly skillful strategy and the ability to use poker psychology to read players and perform bluffs because, despite its simplicity, it is quite difficult to become a winning 5-Card Draw player. The reason is that there are no community cards, and it will be very difficult for you to make assumptions about the strength of your opponents' hands using a minimum of information about them.

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I’ve been working in the Cardmates team since 2018. Started playing poker the same way most people usually do – socially, with friends and fellow students. I adored those exciting poker nights but never thought my life would be connected with this game, even tangentially.
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