Five Card Draw Strategy

Draw poker is fundamentally different than Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and any poker Five Card Draw Strategyvariant 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.

Check out Draw Poker Games at DoylesRoom.com.

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, the game 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, or if you prefer you can play five card draw poker online at one of our top rated poker sites.

Some online poker rooms maintain house rules, which can vary by the room. For example, a lot of places that have low-stakes 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 (though DoylesRoom.com often holds no limit games).

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
3. fold

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 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 counterintuitive.

Best 3 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 3 poker sites…

  • Poker Stars – We’ve enjoyed playing at PokerStars.com since they exploded onto the online poker scene a few years ago. You can claim a generous 100% match on your first deposit (up to $600). Use bonus code “stars600″ and marketing code “kickasspoker.com” to lock your bonus in. You’ll not only be able to play 5 Card Draw, but you’ll also find 2/7 Single Draw and 2/7 Triple Draw. (By the way, be sure to read our Poker Stars review.)
  • Doyles Room – Visit DoylesRoom.com and pick up a 110% bonus match up to $600 on your first deposit (use bonus code “kap110″). They don’t have as much table traffic as PokerStars, but you’ll find more than a few low-stakes games. If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to read our comprehensive Doyles Room review.
  • Aced Poker - Compared to some of the titans, Aced Poker is the new kid on the online poker block. They’ve received a lot of accolades due to their attractive software and creative bonuses. You can see pictures of their software on our Aced Poker review. To get started, visit Aced.com and grab a 100% match on your first deposit up to $1,000.

Poker Stars, Doyles Room, and Aced Poker… if you want to try your hand at Draw Poker, start with these three poker rooms. All of them have passed our litmus test and climbed into our short list of favorites. After you take down a few pots, make sure you come back to our poker strategy forum to share your experiences with the group.