Overview of Five Card Draw
Five Card Draw is arguably one of the simplest forms of poker in existence, and for many it's the first poker game they learn. Although there are other poker games that are more popular when it comes to playing for real money, the straightforward rules result in a fairly wide appeal. It's not offered by every online poker site, but there are a few at which you can play.
Unlike many other forms of poker, in 5 Card Draw, you don't really have a lot of information at hand when making decisions. You don't see any of your opponents' cards, and there are no community cards involved. All you have to go on is how many cards your opponents draw and their betting patterns. If you are playing live rather than online, you can also study body language and facial expressions.
We explain the rules of Five Card Draw on this page and provide some of the basic strategy involved. We have also compiled a list of the best poker sites where you can play the game.
5 Card Draw Rules
A hand of 5 Card Draw typically begins with all participating players paying a small ante. In some games, blinds will be paid, either instead of the ante or in addition to it. Blinds are forced bets made by the player to the left of the dealer (the small blind) and the player to his left (the big blind). The dealer position moves one place to the left after every hand, so all players have to pay blinds at some point.
Once the initial bets have been placed, each player is dealt five cards face down. They look at their own cards, and the first round of betting starts. The player to the left of the dealer is the first to act, or the player to the left of the big blind, if blinds are being used. Play moves clockwise around the table as everyone initiates their action by checking, betting, calling, raising, or folding.
Checking means staying in the hand without placing a bet and is only possible if no-one else has bet at this point. Betting is the action of placing the first bet. Calling is matching the amount of a previous bet, and raising is betting a higher amount than a previous bet. Folding is discarding a hand. The action continues until everyone has either matched the highest bet made or has folded.
In the event that only one player remains after the first round of betting, that player wins the pot and the play moves onto the next hand. If more than one player remains, then play proceeds to the draw. During the draw, players can exchange cards in their hands for new cards. Generally, up to five cards can be exchanged, but some house rules stipulate a maximum of three. Once all players have exchanged their cards, a second round of betting begins following the same pattern as the first.
Again, if only one player remains after this round of betting, he wins the pot. If two or more players are left, they show their cards to determine who wins. Whichever player made the last bet or raise has to show his cards first. The winner has the best 5 card poker hand according to standard hand rankings. He gets the pot and the next hand starts.
Basic 5 Card Draw Strategy
In reality, there's very little real strategy involved in 5 Card Draw. It's a simple matter of trying to interpret any information you have and act accordingly. Any information available can be wholly relied on; it's possible to use it to at least get some idea of how strong your position is.
As we have already mentioned, you are basically looking at betting patterns and the number of cards your opponents draw. In terms of these betting patterns, the more aggressive a player is in their betting, the more likely they are to have a strong hand. When a player is more passive in their betting, it's likely that the person doesn't have a particularly strong hand.
This is a somewhat imperfect theory, however, as there's always the possibility of bluffing. A player could be betting hard to cover up a weak hand or passive, trying to hide a really strong hand. Thus, you need to look at the number of cards being exchanged to give more insight into just how strong the hand might be.
In many respects, the best strategy in 5 Card Draw isn't so much to try and work out what your opponents might have, but rather to make sure they cannot work out what you have. For this reason you should always mix up your betting patterns and try not to be predictable and easy to read.
Best 5 Card Draw Poker Sites
If you are looking to play 5 Card Draw online, your options are a bit more limited than if you want to play Texas Hold'em. However, there are a number of good quality sites that offer this game: a number of which we have listed below.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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