Five Card Draw: How to Play the Vintage Poker Game Like a Pro

Noah Adams - Content Editor at CasinoCrawlers
Written by Noah Adams
Guide to five card draw poker
Published: 30/06/2023
Reading time: 8 minutes

Five-card draw poker is quite possibly one of the most simple variants of poker to learn. Today, it is more common in home games than in live casinos, but there are still plenty of online sites to play 5-card draw. This guide will provide you with everything you need to get started playing this classic game of poker. You will learn the rules, the betting structure, the different hands, and the best places online to play five-card draw. Let's begin...

The Basics of Five Card Draw Poker

Like almost all variants of poker, the objective of five card draw is to create the best possible poker hand with five cards. The game uses a standard deck of 52 cards and uses the standard set of poker hand rankings. Unlike flop and stud games, you are allowed to discard and draw up to three new cards to help you create the strongest poker hand possible. are allowed to discard and draw up to three new cards to help you create the strongest hand.

Five Card Draw Poker Rules

Since five card draw is a draw variant of poker, players are dealt their full hand before the first betting round. The gameplay is quite different to hold'em and stud games, and there are no community cards or exposed cards.

2 to 6 players can start a hand of five-card draw poker. In most games, there is an initial ante, which is a nominal bet amount. This is the cost of being played into the hand. The dealer then deals each player five cards, one at a time. These cards are dealt face down so only the player can see their own hand.

The first betting round commences, where the blind and each player make an action; bet, raise, call or fold. This is where the gameplay varies from games like Texas Hold'em and Carribean or Seven-card Stud.

If one or more player has called the pot (i.e., made a bet), a round of drawing occurs. The drawing round begins with the small blind and proceeds left in a clockwise position. If the blind has already folded, the round starts with the next active player to the left of the small blind. Each player has the option to discard up to three cards from their hand and replace them with new ones.

After the drawing round, a 2nd betting round occurs in the exact same manner as the previous one. Once all players have acted and the pot has been called, players reveal their hands to determine the winner of the pot.

How to Play Five Card Draw Poker


Now that we have the basics of five card draw covered, let's go through a standard hand step-by-step.

  1. Ante: To start off, all players who want to enter the hand place an 'ante'. This is usually a small % of the predetermined fixed betting limit (if the fixed limit is $4, the ante would be 40c). Once all players have chipped in their ante, the dealer can begin to deal the cards.(It should be noted that antes are not mandatory, but are commonplace in many draw games).
  2. First Betting Round: The dealer deals out five cards to each individual player, one at a time. The cards are dealt face down so only the player can see his/her hand. Once all players have five cards each, the first betting round begins.Similar to other poker variations, there is a small blind and a big blind. The small blind is the player to the left of the dealer. The small blind opens the betting with the predetermined amount set before the start of the game (for example $2). The big blind is required to double this amount ($4). The action continues to the left and goes in a clockwise direction. Players can either fold (drop out of the hand), call (bet the same amount as put down by the blind), or raise (increase the bet). If you're familiar with the betting structure in other poker variants you should have no problems here. Once every player has acted, the game proceeds to the drawing round.
  3. Drawing Round: As in the first betting round, the drawing round begins with the small blind. If the small blind has already folded, the play begins with the next active player to the left of the small blind. In this round, each active player has the option to discard up to three cards from his/her hand and draw new cards from the remaining deck. If a player chooses not to exchange any cards, it is called 'standing pat'. The purpose of this round is to give players the opportunity to improve their hands. Once the remaining active players have been given the opportunity to draw new cards, the hand commences to a second betting round.
  4. Second Betting Round: The betting structure of the second betting round follows the exact same structure as the first round of betting. The only difference in this round is that players can choose to 'check', along with calling, raising, or folding. 'Checking' passes the action along to the next player while still remaining in the hand. If every player chooses to check, the hands are revealed and the player with the highest-ranking hand wins the pot. However, if one player decides to bet and all other players decide to fold, this player takes the pot without having to reveal their hand.
  5. The Showdown: A showdown only occurs if two or more players have bet in the second betting round. Once the pot has been called, active players reveal their cards, with the highest-ranking hand winning the money.

Five Card Draw Game Hand Rankings

As mentioned earlier, Five Card Draw uses standard poker hand rankings, meaning they are the exact same hands used in stud poker and hold'em versions.

In some card games, suits have a ranking from strongest to weakest. This is used to determine a winner of the pot if players have the same card value hand ranking. This is not the case with five-card draw. If a player has the same card value ranking flush in hearts (2h, 3h, 4h, 5h, 6h) as a player with a flush of spades (2s, 3s 4s,5s, 6h), then the pot is split between these two players.

From strongest to weakest, here are the poker hands used in Five Card Draw:

Poker hand rankings for 5 card draw

Five Card Draw Strategies and Tips

As in all variations of poker, there are various strategies involved in Five-Card draw. Knowing which cards to discard and which ones to play is crucial.

Here are some basic tips to help you with your game:

💡 Only play with strong opening hands

You should only play if you have an initial strong hand. For instance, if you've drawn a pair, four cards to a middle straight or a flush, or an even stronger hand.

💡 Know when to bluff

Bluffing is a lot easier in this game than flop games, as opposing players have no idea which cards you are trying to play with. The main thing to help your bluff or help tell a bluff is the number of cards exchanged. If someone has discarded only one card and has decided to bet big, they may have drawn the card to create a strong hand. Similarly, if a player is 'standing pat' and bets big, more than likely they have a strong hand. You should never attempt to bluff if you want to exchange three cards and they haven't come in unless you have a massive bankroll.

💡 Know when to draw and when to stand pat

As we said, knowing which cards to exchange and when to stand pat can be the difference between being labelled a fish or a shark in a five-card draw game. Here are a few moves you should make in the drawing round:

  • When dealt a pair, exchange 3 dangling cards. Worst case - you can still be confident of playing with a pair.
  • When dealt trips, you can either exchange the 2 dangling cards in the hopes of drawing quads or exchange one and hope for a full house.
  • You should never break a two-pair hand. Here only exchange the one dangling card regardless of the possibility of a flush or a straight. It's not worth the risk.
  • If you have four to a flush or a straight, exchange the one dangling card. There is always the chance you will create a pair if the fifth card for a straight/flush doesn't come up.

Did you know...

Five Card Draw poker can trace its roots back to before that of Texas Hold'em.

The game wasn't known as Five-Card Draw in the beginning. It was actually called by its European names of 'Pochen' and 'Pocue'.

Also, the game was played with a deck containing only face cards. There was no such thing as a straight or flush and exchanging cards was not allowed as there simply were not enough cards to do so. Since there were not many combinations of winning hands, it was felt the game needed to evolve.

So, in the 1820s, a 52-card deck was used, along with the addition of a second round of betting, the ability to exchange (or draw) cards, and the addition of straights and flushes to the poker hand ranking.

Find Casinos to Play Five Card Draw Online

While five-card draw poker doesn't have the same popularity it once had, there are still plenty of top NZ online poker sites where you can enjoy playing a hand or two. Before entering real money rooms, we recommend you test your skills on free play tables first. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the hands and different strategies there are for discarding cards without you risking your bankroll.

Why Play Five Card Draw Poker

Five Card Draw Poker is one of the easiest variations to learn. This makes it a perfect game for people entering the poker scene for the first time. The speed of the hands and the simplicity of the rules ensure plenty of excitement for all players.


  • Britannica. "History of Poker",
  • Youtube. "wikiHow - How to Play Five Card Draw",
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Noah Adams

Noah Adams

Senior Content Editor

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Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.

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Last updated: September 19, 2023