Five Card Draw Poker: A Comprehensive Guide to Mastering the Game

Guide to five card draw poker
Reading time: 11 minutes

Five-card draw poker is one of the easiest variants of poker to learn. Today, it’s more common to play this version at home than in live casinos, but there are still plenty of online sites where you can play 5-card draw poker.

Our experts have put together this guide to give you everything you need to start playing this classic poker game. We’ll teach you how to play 5 card draw, explain the rules, betting structure, different hands, and the best places online to play five-card draw.

Let’s begin with the basics of 5 card draw poker…

The Basics of Five Card Draw Poker

Like almost all variants of poker, the objective of 5 card draw poker 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.

…you 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.

Two to six 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.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Here are a few things to avoid when you’re just learning how to play 5 Card Draw:

  • Don’t play too many hands. Just like playing some other poker variants, one of the biggest mistakes that beginners can make is to play too many hands at once. For example, drawing two cards to try to make a royal flush – an incredibly hard hand to create!
  • Getting in a bad position. Like other variants of poker, where you’re positioned can have a big impact on your game, whether you’re playing online poker games or at a physical table. It’s not just about looking at how your opposition bets, but also studying how many cards they draw to make a more informed play.
  • Giving away free chances. Be careful not to give the player in the big blind a free chance to draw cards, which gives them a big advantage in this poker variation.
  • Avoid playing drawing hands. Unless you’re in the blinds be careful not to pay too much for drawing a card, particularly if you’re holding out for a specific card you’re unlikely to get.

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.

Online vs. Offline Play

There are a few key differences between playing 5 card draw poker at an online casino versus at home or at a physical casino.

  • More Variety

One of the biggest benefits of playing online is the variety of games available at different online casinos. This can help to keep the game more exciting when you play poker, with different themes and gameplay options available.

  • Social Interaction

One of the biggest differences when playing 5 card draw online is the lack of social interaction. While some casinos offer a live casino experience, with a real dealer where you can interact with other players, it’s still often difficult to get the same experience.

You also can’t observe your opponent and look for things like player reactions or body language typically used in traditional poker. These ‘tells’ can often help you understand which players have weak hands and which ones might be bluffing.

  • Access to Bonuses

You can also typically access bonuses when playing online that aren’t available in a physical casino with 5 card draw poker. Bonuses can be a great way to play without the risk of losing any of your own hard-earned cash.

  • Play from Anywhere

One of the biggest benefits of playing online poker games is that you can play from anywhere. You don’t need to visit a physical casino but can play on your mobile with the touch of a button.

  • Lower Investment

Often, online poker games feel like they’re designed as a learning process for beginners, with low buy-in rates that mean you can play without big risks.

In a real casino, many tables can have buy-in limits that can make it restrictive for beginners who don’t want to bet big while starting out.

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.

Practice and Improve

Like most things in life, practice means progress!

If you’re looking to improve your poker game, whether it’s understanding hand rankings or betting structures, it takes time and effort.

Here are some suggestions to help you practice to improve your game:

  • Play for free: Find online sites that let you play for free to hone your poker skills and better understand poker hand rankings before making bets with real money.
  • Study up: There are lots of great online resources to study different poker strategies and tips to help improve your game.
  • Watch videos: Lots of experienced players will share their insights using videos so you can see first-hand the strategies they use to improve their hands.
  • Visit player forums: There are plenty of online forums available full of new and experienced players, where you can ask questions and get advice.
  • Get a poker buddy: Playing regularly with a friend who is just as keen as learning about poker can be a great way to improve your poker knowledge.

Etiquette and Poker Table Manners

If you’re new to playing poker, there are a few unwritten rules to know before you start playing. Based on our experience of playing throughout the years, here are some of the most essential to learn before you hit the tables:

  • Pay attention:

Make sure you’re following the game, whether you’re playing live or at an online casino so you can follow what’s happening and don’t hold up play.

  • Act swiftly:

Make sure you act swiftly when it’s your turn. While it’s okay to think about your options, consider the game’s pace and think about your next move between turns.

  • Be respectful:

Always be courteous and respectful to other players and the dealer.

  • Don’t disturb others:

When it’s not your turn, don’t interrupt, speak, or disturb your opponents. It’s disrespectful and can negatively impact the game for all players.

  • Be gracious:

Whether you win or lose, be gracious about it. No one likes a sore loser or a winner who throws it in the face of other players.

The Bottom Line

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.

Now you’ve learnt how to play 5 card draw, find the perfect casino by checking out our recommended sites and start playing today!


  • Britannica. “History of Poker”,
  • Youtube. “wikiHow – How to Play Five Card Draw”,

5 Card Draw Poker FAQ

What is 5 Play Draw Poker?

5 Card Draw is a popular type of poker, particularly with new players. You need to make a hand with five cards which is ranked higher than your opponent. It's a game that's usually played between two to five players.

How Do You Play 5-Card Draw Poker?

In this poker variation, each player is dealt five cards. This is followed by a round of betting and then players can get rid of up to three cards.

The dealer will then deal out new cards to make sure each player always holds five cards.

How Many Cards Can You Exchange in 5-Card Draw?

Most online and physical casinos won't let you replace more than three cards. However, if your last card is a wild card or an Ace, you can discard four cards at some casinos.

What Is the Order of Betting in 5-Card Draw Poker?

If you're playing at home you're more likely to use an ante betting system. In that case, the first betting round starts with the player sitting to the dealer's left. The second round starts with the player who opened the first round.

What Are the Rules for 5-Card Draw?

Five card draw is one of the most common types of poker you can play. You start with five cards, followed by a round of betting. You can then choose to discard up to three cards, getting the same amount of cards you discarded back from the deck to try to build a stronger hand.

Do People Still Play 5-Card Draw?

Yes, people still play this poker variation. And it's a great option if you're new to the world of poker. It's played at home for fun, but it's also available online at many casinos. It's not often found at casino tournaments, with other variants proving much more popular.

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Noah Adams
Noah Adams
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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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