Draw poker is fundamentally different than Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and any poker variant that uses a flop. Technically, it’s a catchall phrase. It can refer to any poker game during which you’re dealt your entire hand upfront, and have a chance to replace your cards between rounds of betting. Chances are, this is one of the first poker variants you learned while growing up.
When people mention Draw, they’re usually referring to 5 Card Draw poker. That’s the game we’ll focus on below. We’ll start by explaining the basics as well as the rules of Five Card Draw, so you can get started on the right foot. We’ll describe how betting occurs by taking you through an entire hand – from beginning to end. You’ll also learn about a few popular Draw Poker variants that others enjoy playing.
Draw Poker: Setting The Stage
Five Card Draw is played with three to seven players. Similar to Texas Holdem games, Five Card Draw uses small and big blinds rather than an ante system. That means only two players are forced to post a bet prior to the start of each hand.
Unlike holdem, there are only two rounds of betting in Draw Poker (be sure to read our article on how Texas Holdem betting works). One round takes place before cards are drawn; one round takes place afterward. This will become clearer below as we take you through a hand.
Some online poker rooms maintain house rules, which can vary by the room. For example, a lot of places that have low-stakes poker tables will only let you draw 3 cards unless you’re holding an Ace. If you have an Ace, you can draw 4 cards. Other rooms will let you draw 5 cards (in effect, replacing your entire hand), but not successively. You’ll be allowed to draw 4, followed by other players drawing their cards. Then, you’ll be given your fifth card.
Big And Small Blinds In Draw Poker
Each hand begins after the small and big blinds have been posted. The small blind is posted by the player seated to the dealer’s immediate left. The big blind is posted by the player seated to the small blind’s immediate left.
The amounts of the blinds are dictated by the table betting structure. For example, in a $2/$4 fixed limit game, the small blind would be $1 while the big blind would be $2. In a $2/$4 pot limit game, the small and big blinds would be $2 and $4, respectively. Most of the tables we’ve seen are fixed limit.
5 Card Draw: Start To Finish
Once the blinds have been posted, the dealer (designated by the button) will deal 5 hole cards face-down to each player. The cards are dealt clockwise around the table one at a time, beginning with the small blind. After every player has received his or her cards, the first round of betting begins.
The betting action starts with the player seated to the left of the big blind. That person can do one of three things…
1. call by betting an amount equal to the big blind
2. raise by betting an amount equal to double the big blind
Betting progresses clockwise around the table with each player either calling, raising, or folding. When the action arrives back at the big blind, that person can choose to check or call, raise, or fold. Once the first round of betting finishes, the hand proceeds to the Draw.
During the Draw, each player can choose to replace one or more cards with fresh cards from the deck. They can also choose to “stand pat,” which means keeping their 5 original hole cards. The Draw begins with the active player who is seated closest to the dealer’s left. Cards are replaced at one time. That is, if you want 4 replacement cards, you will receive them all at once. After the Draw completes, a second round of betting begins.
While the first betting round started with the player nearest the big blind’s left, the second betting round begins with the first active player to the dealer’s left. The action proceeds clockwise around the table in the same manner. Each player can choose to check or call, raise, or fold.
If there are two or more players remaining after the second betting round finishes, they go to a showdown. The active players show their cards, and the best 5-card hand takes the pot. Hands are ranked according to traditional poker hand rankings. Even though Draw Poker’s action is limited compared to holdem, you can still gain an edge by reading our article on long-term winning poker strategy.
Reshuffling During Draw Poker
At a full table of Draw Poker, it’s possible that the dealer will lack a sufficient number of cards to fulfill each player’s request for replacements. If that happens, the remaining stub (unused cards) and all discarded cards are shuffled together to create a new stub. Players’ requests are satisfied from the newly-shuffled stub. This reshuffling is usually reserved for variants with multiple draws (e.g. 2/7 Triple Draw Poker).
Popular Draw Poker Variants
There are over a dozen Draw Poker variants, including Anaconda, Howdy Doody, and Monkey Love. Two of the most popular are 2/7 Single Draw and 2/7 Triple Draw.
2/7 Single Draw (sometimes called Deuce To Seven Lowball) is played in exactly the same manner as normal 5 Card Draw. The blinds, deal, Draw, and betting are identical. The difference is in the objective. Rather than trying to make the highest ranking 5-card hand, players try to make a lowball hand. In this case, straights and flushes count against you, and Aces are high. The best hand you can make is a 7-5-4-3-2.
2/7 Triple Draw Poker is a low variant of Draw Poker on steroids. Like 2/7 Single Draw, the goal is to make the lowest hand possible. However, there are 4 rounds of betting and 3 Draws. You can exchange up to 5 cards during each Draw.
If you’re unfamiliar with low poker variants, be sure to read our article on how to play Razz Poker. There are a lot of differences between Razz and 5 Card Draw, of course, but it’s a good introduction to a low hand ranking system that might seem counter-intuitive.
Best Poker Rooms For Playing Draw Poker
With Texas Holdem, Omaha, and 7 Card Stud monopolizing the spotlight, not every poker room offers 5 Card Draw. To be sure, we’ve focused a lot of our own time on holdem. That’s one of the reasons we’ve created a huge list of articles on Texas Holdem strategy. If you’d like to start playing Draw Poker, we recommend the following poker sites…