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5 Card Draw Rules | Official Rules of 5-Card Draw Poker

27 January 2009, By:
5 card draw, the poker game you likely learned sitting at the kitchen table with your grandparents, is in the midst of a resurgence.

Astonishingly easy to learn and play, 5 Card Draw has very simple rules and a short learning curve meaning you can start learning the game and playing the game at a high level very quickly.

No community cards to share, no complicated betting calculations ... just straight-forward bets, one round of draws and the best 5-card hand wins at showdown.

5 Card Draw is still a popular choice for poker home games but you can also find it at a variety of online poker sites to to play for real money. If you've never played 5-card draw before or if you're a little hazy on how the 5-card draw rules work, here's a quick refresher.

How to Play 5 Card Draw

5-Card Draw Rules - Blinds or Antes?

A hand of 5 Card Draw begins with the player to the left of the dealer putting in (usually) half of the big bet at the table, called the small blind. The player to his or her left then puts in a full bet, called a big blind.

5 card draw rules

In a poker home game these blinds can be set however you like with pretty common stakes being from 5c/10c to $1/$2. Online, most real-money 5-Card Draw poker games are played at the very microstakes with blinds of 1c/2c or 2c/5c.

You will rarely find 5-Card Draw tournaments so most 5-Card Draw rules will focus on cash-games exclusively.

Another common way to start a game of 5-Card Draw - especially in home games - is to just have a set "ante" that everyone must pay before the start of the hand.

Players can also set the rules for how the bets can progress. You can either play:

  • Fixed Limit (bets are restricted to increments of the big blind)
  • Pot-Limit (maximum bet at any time is the size of the current pot)
  • No-Limit (any amount of chips can be bet at any time

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5 Card Draw Rules - The Deal

Once the ante or blinds are paid players may then receive their cards for the hand.

Each player then receives 5 cards all dealt face down. As mentioned there are no community cards in 5 Card Draw so all cards are dealt to each player individually.

The objective in 5-Card Draw is simply to make the best 5-card poker hand or, of course, have your opponent fold to a bet. Once you have your 5 cards you can arrange them in your hand accordingly to what set poker hand you already have or by which cards you're planning to get rid of.

In a poker home game, once an entire round of 5-Card Draw plays out the deal then passes on to the next player to the left. In a casino or online the dealer obviously doesn't change but a dealer button moves around the table to the left in sequence after each hand.

5 Card Draw Rules - The First Betting Round

Once all of the cards have been dealt to each play, play proceeds clockwise beginning with the player to the left of the big blind (in a blinds game) or the player to the left of the dealer (ante game).

rules of 5 card draw

Each player then has the option to either call, raise or fold. If the player in front of you folds, you have the option to fold, call the amount of the big blind (called "limping in" or raise the bet.

If the player in front of you bets you can match that bet ("call") or raise.

Once the action has gone all the way around the table and returns to the small blind, the small blind can either fold, "complete" the bet to the full amount of the big blind or match/raise any previous bets.

The big blind has the option to check (if no one has bet more than the original blind amount) or raise, or call, raise or fold if there has been a raise already.

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Rules of 5 Card Draw - The Draw

Once all of the bets have been matched in the first round of betting, the draw round begins.

Starting to the left of the dealer (who is in the position known as "the button") players now discard as many cards as they wish. The dealer then deals however many replacement cards requested.

Players can discard none ("stand pat"), 1, 2, 3, 4 or all 5 of their cards.

Rules of 5 Card Draw - The Final Betting Round

Once all players have discarded their desired number of cards and received replacements for their discards, there is another round of betting beginning with the player to the left of the dealer (or the next closest player still in the hand).

Each player has the same betting actions as in the first round. When all players have called all bets or folded, there is a showdown (cards are revealed) between any remaining hands and the best 5 card poker hand wins the pot.

If you need a refresher on the Poker Hand Rankings, check our hand rankings below:

  • Royal Flush  (A, K, Q, J, 10 all of same suit)
  • Straight Flush. (5 cards in sequence all in same suit - eg 7h-8h-9h-Th-Jh)
  • Four of a Kind. (All four cards of same rank)
  • Full House. (3 cards of one rank alongside 2 cards of another - eg. 6h-6s-6d-8d-8c)
  • Flush (All 5 cards or one suit, any rank)
  • Straight (A sequence of 5 cards of rank, any suit - eg, 2h-3d-4c-5s-6c)
  • Three of a kind (3 cards or any one rank, two unmatched cards)
  • Two pair (Two different pairs plus one unmatched card)
  • One pair (One pair of equal rank, 3 unmatched cards)
  • High Card (all unmatched cards ranked by the highest single card)

5 Card Draw Rules - Game Variations

how to play 5 card draw

5-Card Draw - Antes

As mentioned above, in some 5 card draw variations players all ante instead of putting up blinds. In these games a player is usually required to have at least a pair of jacks in his hand before he can bet at the pot.

If all players decline to bet players muck their cards, re-ante and receive a new deal.

5-Card Draw - Maximum Discard of 3 Cards

In some 5-card draw home games players opt to cap the amount of cards you can draw at 3. That means that you must keep at least 2 of the first 5 cards you are dealt.

5-Card Draw - Multiple Draws

In some 5-card draw rules you can have a second round of drawing after the second round of betting.

Play 5-Card Draw Online Free!

For poker beginners who want to learn how to play 5-Card Draw, your best option is to try the free 5-Card Draw poker games at PokerStars. PokerStars offers the most game variety of any online poker site and gives you the opportunity to learn how to play in its lay-money games.

You will still need to register an official account at PokerStars (and be of legal age) but you aren't required to make any kind of deposit or financial investment to play. Simple look for the "Instant Play" or "Play Money" games tab in the lobby.

To sign up and create a new PokerStars account to access our $600 sign-up bonus, download the software via our review page link here:

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