5 Card Poker Rules

5 Card Poker

5 Card Poker, more often referred to as draw-poker, isn’t the most widely played format, but it has a strong following as well. 

It is known for its simplicity and fast-paced gameplay, and many of today’s gurus (professionals) started their journey with this particular variation.

Learning the game is quite easy. Your main goal is to acquire all opponents' chips. In cash games, they have a monetary value and can be converted into real money. 

As for tournaments, you should aim to secure the first-place position in the competition, which means being the last remaining player with all the chips. Or at least reach the ITM zone 😉

This game comes in different types, including:

  • Five-card draw – the classic version where players can exchange cards.
  • 2-7 Triple Draw and Single Draw – games where the lowest-ranking combinations take the pot.
  • Badugi – a unique variant featuring four pocket elements and a focus on low hands.
  • 32-card draw – it is played with a reduced pack containing only figures from seven to ace (32 elements).

In this article, we focus on the first listed discipline, how it differs from Texas Holdem, its specific features and rules that govern gameplay, some nuances of each betting stage and more.

Basic Five Card Draw Poker Rules

This game requires a regular pack of 52 pieces, which is shuffled prior to each new hand. Everyone is dealt 5 personal cards so that players cannot see each other's hands. The main focus here is on an exchange stage: you have the option to discard up to five unwanted pieces from your combo and receive an equal number of new ones from the deck. Hence another name for the stage – "draw". This process allows you to refresh your hand and thus improve its strength. In the final round of bidding, the remaining users reveal their holdings and, following classic rules, the one with the strongest combination claims the pot.

The number of participants typically varies from 2 to 6. Well, it is technically possible to involve 7-10 people, but the exchange would be then eliminated (exactly as in the original version). Ideally, there should be 5 adults to play a complete hand.

Existing betting systems

  • Fixed Limit – the maximum for bets and raises is pre-specified.
  • Pot Limit – both bets and raises can be of any amount as long as they do not exceed the current pot size.
  • No Limit – users are free to choose their bet sizing, with the minimum bet being equal to one big blind.
Experience shows that…
Experience shows that…

.. fixed limit and pot limit are common betting structures for cash games of the 5-card draw format. And online tournaments mostly adopt the no-limit version.

Game Flow Through All Stages

So, what are the rules of Draw Poker? Each hand starts with posting small and big blinds (their amounts are determined beforehand). This is the traditional system, so it must be familiar to the vast majority of novice poker players. To join the action, one should at least match the BB size. Besides, they can equalize their opponent's increased bet or choose to raise themselves.

There exists a variation where ante is employed instead of blinds. This is an alternative mandatory bet that must be posted by all adults at the table. The choice between these two systems does not significantly affect the gameplay, except for determining the individual who acts first:

  • Ante – active participant seated to the dealer’s left.
  • Blinds – the one to the BB’s left

Having received pocket cards, players analyze them to determine their potential, that is, what hand they can make. If you are a rare lucky beggar, you may have a complete combination at the start.

First round of betting and exchange (draw)

The 1st bidding round kicks off following hand strength evaluation. Players can fold, place a bet or raise the previous one – these are standard options. If no one raises, the participant in the BB gets the chance to check (they neither bet nor fold but retain their hand and continue playing).

When playing with antes where all users contribute an equal amount to the pot, the first person to act can choose to pass on the action to their opponent as well.

Key rules of card exchange

  • After the first phase of betting is finished, everybody who remains in the battle has the opportunity to swap any number of their initial cards (if desired) in the same order in which they just performed.
  • If blinds were involved, BB has the first pick, while BTN goes last.
  • The purpose of this exchange is to strengthen a poker hand. Players have the option to replace all five pieces or to opt for a "stand pat" feature and keep their hand as it is (without changing).

Second round of betting and showdown time

Once the draw phase is complete, the second (and final) bidding round unfolds, starting with SB or the first active participant to their left. Users can choose to play check, call, bet, raise, or fold.

Your decision should depend on two factors: whether you managed to complete your hand and how many pieces your rivals replaced.

Showdown comes after players matched bets or mucked their holdings. All hands are compared in a customary manner to decide the victor.

How to play Draw poker outside the box?
How to play Draw poker outside the box?

Draw game rules are often used when playing strip poker, so you can easily mix these two versions at your Home Games. But first, make sure all are over 18!

Possible 5 Card Poker Hands

Combinations, as well as their seniority, are also analogous to NLHE. That is, royal flush (10-J- Q-K-A, all suited) is an unbeatable hand, while high card is considered the weakest possible option (your set value, in this case, is determined by the highest figure's rank).

Suits hold no significance here and are not used to define the champion. In the case of two players having identical combos, such as a pair or two pair, the one with the highest-ranking side element (aka “tie-breaker” or “kicker”) wins the pot. If users share the same kicker, the pot is typically split equally between them.

Several strategy tips

  • Consider your position at the table. If you play from UTG, it is recommended to enter the action with a strong pair or better.​
  • Strong draws represent combos that include four pieces of the same suit or four consecutive numbers. They can be played from late positions or when more than one person fights for the pot.
  • Avoid limping. Most poker players limp preflop to see the flop, so you can take advantage of this,(especially if you are in position).
  • Raising increases your chances of taking the pot before the exchange.
  • It is advisable to change those elements that do not form combinations. For example, if you have a pair, then you should replace the other three cards, expecting to collect a set or two pair.
  • Spend some time analyzing your opponents' actions. Perhaps they like to bluff, or vice versa, they never bluff. This is very important information that you can use to win the match.

Full-Length Ante Game Example

Let’s wrap our knowledge of how to play 5 card poker and address one simple example. Suppose that there are 4 players at the table – "A", "B", "C", and "D".

Step 1
Step 1

All users contribute a $1 ante. Dealer "A" gives out 5 figures facedown so that each person can check their holding privately. Let's focus on participant "D" and consider the cards they received – Q♦9♦8♦5♦2♥ (they need to exchange the deuce of hearts in order to get any diamond part).

Step 2
Step 2

Player "B" initiates bidding by placing $5. "C" folds, "D" calls, and "A" also pays five dollars, thereby concluding the round.

Step 3
Step 3

"B" decides to exchange three pieces and discards them, so dealer "A" gives them 3 new figures from the pack. "D" throws one card away and receives 3♦ (what a stroke of luck 🙂). Finally "A" takes their move, choosing to swap three pieces.

Step 4
Step 4

It’s time for the second betting round. "B" and "D" play check, "A" bets $10 and "B" folds. "D" raises to $16, "A" calls and completes the trading.

Step 5
Step 5

During the showdown, "A" demonstrates two pair, while "D" reveals a diamond flush, consequently winning the pot.

Best poker sites for beginners 

Draw-poker isn't the most widely known game, but you can still find some tournaments on the schedule of major online festivals hosted by PokerStars. Additionally, there are a few cash tables available for those looking to play this format.

PokerStars
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888poker
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Contrasts with Hold'em Standards

From an aerial view, the discussed format rules are similar to NLHE, but the devil's in the details: total pocket cards, bidding round count, etc.

The most fundamental disparities between these two poker disciplines are as follows:

  • no shared board – here you won’t find typical flop, turn, and river;
  • fewer betting rounds, as there are no community board elements;
  • exchange – one can throw away between 1 and 5 cards after the initial bidding and receive as many new ones in return.

Since there is no board, it may be challenging to make assumptions about your opponents' hand strength in the early stages, having limited information. But you can take note of how many elements other players discarded during the exchange phase and make decisions in the second round of betting based on this. All it really takes to succeed is regular practice.

FAQ

📌 How do you play 5-card poker for beginners?

When playing offline, you should find 2-6 participants, seat them at the table and decide on the blinds or antes. Next, deal five cards to each person and initiate the bidding phase. Then, replace undesirable figures with new ones during the draw round if necessary and proceed to another round of folding or betting. Win the pot either by causing everyone else to muck their holdings or by making the strongest combo. You may even invent some unique currency instead of cash to practice the game.

Online, newbies have the opportunity to test-drive this format and learn combinations, playing for fake credits (demo mode), for example, on PokerStars.

👀 How many rounds are in 5-card poker?

Everything depends on the selected format. Regular variation has two bidding rounds and one draw (swapping stage). The first trading takes place after all involved people receive their hands (they don't need to pay for it), followed by replacing cards. Then users make their final decisions based on their new hand strength and opponents' actions. If you choose a three-exchange version, then the second and third steps are repeated two more times.

Whatever you opt for, the combination of betting and drawing cards adds excitement and strategic depth to the gameplay.

🏆 What wins in 5-card poker?

The one with the best hand wins in this format, as is the case in most popular variations. If there is a tie at the showdown, then the pot is divided equally among the participants involved. Note that hand ranking here follows the traditional pattern, that is to say, identical to NLHE or Omaha poker. For instance, triplet beats two pair; flush outranks straight and so forth.

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