Five Card Draw is a meld-making comparison game in the poker family. 5-Card Draw Poker is considered the best version of Highball or “high-hand” poker to teach to beginners.
This is because Five-Card Draw has the most basic rules of a poker game, while also sharing the same card hierarchy as most other poker games. This means all the most important mechanics learned in Five-Card Draw, meld-making, and bluffing, can be transferred over to other games.
How to Play Five Card Draw Poker?
Five-Card Draw Poker is played utilizing the standard 52-card Anglo-American deck pattern. Although it is a game with a thousand different house rules, including adding Jokers to the deck, this is not allowed in the official Five-Card ruleset.
Five-Card Draw can then be thought of as existing in 5 different phases:
- The Ante
- The Pre Draw
- The Draw
- The Post Draw
- The Showdown
The Ante, and The Blinds
Once the deck has been shuffled, a Dealer should be determined randomly. As is the case in other games of poker, the official rules of Five-Card Draw utilize a “big-blind/small-blind” system. The player to the immediate left of the Dealer will be the Small Blind, and the player to the left of them is the Big Blind.
The Blinds are compelled to pay a portion of the money, even if they do not wish to be dealt cards. This portion is based upon the Ante. The Ante is a proscribed amount that each player must pay in order to be dealt their cards for that round.
The Big Blind, therefore, is compelled to pay their Ante no matter what. The Small Blind is only compelled to pay half of their Ante, and may fold before cards have been dealt to lose only half of their money.
Once each player that wishes to participate has paid in their share of the Ante, cards will be dealt by the Dealer. Each player will be dealt 5 cards, in packets of 5, all face-down. The player to the immediate right of the Dealer will then make the first bet.
Betting in Five-Card Draw, like in most poker games, has four different possible options. Players must always match the highest outgoing bet, and may raise it if they so wish, in order to continue participating in the game.
A player that refuses to match the highest outgoing bet is “folded” and forfeits all rights to the money they have already wagered, as well as any right to the pot after the Showdown (even if their cards would have won.)
If a player does not choose to fold, they may Raise, Check, Bet, or Call. If there is no outstanding bet at the table of any kind, or if you are the first player to make their bet, a “check” may be made.
Checks are essentially a bet of 0, where players wager nothing but do not necessarily fold. This can only be done if every player before you in that specific betting phase (both betting phases are unique, and bets from one phase do not affect the bets of another) folded, or checked as well.
Players may also Raise, or Call/Bet. The Call/Bet is technically two different things.
- A Call: when a player matches the previous highest bet of another player. For example, if Player 1 bets 5, then Player 2 “calls” by betting 5 as well.
- A Bet: the first bet made at a table. For example, Player 1 checks. Player 2 has nothing to call on, and therefore “Bets” 5.
Finally, players are allowed to raise. This is an increase over the previously highest bet, and compels all other players at the table to match it or fold, including players that have already wagered in some way. Those players must then make up the difference between the raise and their own previous bet. For example, Player 1 bets 3, Player 2 raises 2 for a total of 5, Player 3 bets 5, and Player 1 bets 2 for a total of 5.
The Draw Phase and the Post Draw
If all but one player folds, then that remaining player will take the pot immediately. Otherwise, any non-folded players will move on to the Draw phase of the round.
Players follow the same betting order, taking turns discarding cards from their hand, up to and including their entire hand, and replacing them with cards from the deck.
Players draw the same amount of cards that they discard, and the Dealer should always discard the top card of the deck before dealing out any cards during this Draw. That is known as the burn card.
Once each player has traded in their cards, then the second betting phase begins.
The Pre-Draw and Post-Draw are the only two betting phases in 5-Card Draw, so bet wisely.
After the betting in the Post-Draw, which follows the exact same procedure as the Pre-Draw betting phase, players will then reveal their cards for the Showdown.
In the Showdown, players compare their hands to see who wins the pot. As in all high-handed Poker games, the highest hand at the table wins the whole pot of chips. If there is a tie, the Pot will be split.
5 Card Draw Rules
The rules of the game are as follows:
- The Dealer should always burn a card before dealing a player’s replenishment cards.
- There are only two betting phases in Five-Card Draw Poker.
- Players may trade in their entire hand if they wish.
- Players must match the previously highest bet during that particular betting phase. If they do not, they must fold their hand.
- Players must all pay into the Ante at the start of the game in order to be dealt their cards.
Hands & Rankings
|Odds of getting
|10♦ J♦ Q♦ K♦ A♦
|Less than 0.001%
|3♦ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦ 7♦
|Less than 0.002%
|Four of a Kind
|4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 4♥ 5♣
|2♥ 2♦ 3♣ 3♠ 3♦
|7♦ 8♦ 3♦ 6♦ 9♦
|2♥ 3♦ 4♣ 5♠ 6♦
|Three of a Kind
|3♥ 3♦ 3♣ 6♣ 10♣
|2♥ 2♦ 3♣ 3♠ 5♦
|3♥ 3♦ 5♦ 6♣ 10♣
Five-Card Draw follows the traditional hand-hierarchy of most high-hand poker games. It is explained more in-depth below:
A straight composed of all the “Royal” cards that are all the same suit.
For example 10, J, Q, K, Ace.
A straight composed of cards that are all the same suit, with the highest ranking card determining ties between other straight flushes.
E.g. 3♦ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦ 7♦
Four of a Kind
A collection of four cards that are all the same rank.
E.g. 4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 4♥ 5♣
A pair and a three-of-a-kind in the same hand.
Example: 2♥ 2♦ 3♣ 3♠ 3♦
A collection of cards that are all the same suit, regardless of their rank.
Example: 7♦ 8♦ 3♦ 6♦ 9♦
A collection of cards that all follow an immediate ascending and descending order regardless of suit.
Example: 2♥ 3♦ 4♣ 5♠ 6♦
A collection of three cards that are all the same rank, with two additional “junk” cards to distinguish it from a Full House.
Example: 3♥ 3♦ 3♣ 6♣ 10♣
A collection of two different pairs of cards that are the same rank.
Example: 2♥ 2♦ 3♣ 3♠ 5♦
A collection of two cards that are the same rank, with three unrelated “junk” cards.
Example: 3♥ 3♦ 5♦ 6♣ 10♣
If a player does not manage to form any of these melds with their five-card hand, then they must play using their “high card” instead, the highest card in their hand.
Imagine the following is your hand in a game of Five-Card Draw at the start of the game:
10♠ K♦ 7♣ Q♥ 9♦
This is potentially a very strong hand. However, as there is only one card away from a straight, the likelihood of getting that necessary card during the draw phase is actually quite low. As such, one should not bet very highly in the Pre-Draw phase.
Once the draw has been made, trading in the 7♣ imagine the following is your drawn card:
This gives you the straight, and as such betting more highly in the second betting phase is recommended. Further, other players have already put a certain amount of money into the pot. Using the Sunken Cost Fallacy, players might be more likely to call on a high bet during the second betting phase, because they are already “in for a penny” so they may as well go “in for a pound.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you play with 2 players?
Although the game is improved by playing with more players, as it increases the number of cards that will be drawn from the deck, and therefore increasing the overall variety of each player’s hand, Five-Card Draw is playable with only two people. Each player will take turns being the Dealer/Banker, with the Dealer always making their bet after the other player.
What is the best hand in Five Card Draw?
The best hand in Five-Card Draw, as it is in the vast majority of five-card high-hand poker games, is the Royal Flush.
Is Ace high or low in Five Card Draw?
Aces are both high and low in Five-Card Draw as they are in most poker variations. This means that Aces may form a Straight with the 2, 3, 4, 5 or the 10, J, Q, K. Aces may not wrap however, as is the case in most poker games, e.g. K, Ace, 2, 3, 4 is an illegal meld.
How many times can you bet?
Not including the mandatory Ante that players must pay in before they are dealt their cards, players are given the opportunity to make two bets during the course of a 5-Card Draw game. Once after each player has been dealt their cards, and again after the Draw but before the Showdown.
Are there Jokers in Five-card Draw?
Although some people do play with Jokers in their own house versions, Jokers are not a standard part of a traditional Five-card Draw Poker Deck. Players should utilize a standard Anglo-American 52-card deck.
How many rounds are there in 5 Card Draw?
There are, as in all poker games, as many rounds as required until all players have forfeited, or one player controls the entire table’s money.
However, if referring to the distinct “rounds” or phases of an individual hand of Five-Card Draw Poker, then there are 5: The Ante, The Pre-Draw, The Draw, The Post-Draw, and the Showdown.