Five Card Draw Poker

Five-card draw is the simplest poker variant and often the first type of poker learned by new players. Today it is still common in home games but rare in casino and tournament play. Five-card draw is still offered by most online poker sites, although games like Texas hold 'em are much more popular nowadays.

Five Card Draw is probably one of the oldest poker variants being traced back to the Wild West as the most popular form of poker of the day (today of course five card draw poker has been usurped by Texas Holdem). The original five card draw (Wild West style) had just one betting round. Players were dealt five cards face down and then had to bet. A 20 card deck was used during this time with 10 to Ace in each suit. As five card draw poker grew in popularity, some changes were made to broaden the appeal, the draw was introduced along with 52 cards which meant more players and of course more possible winning combinations. The game spread from the West to the floating casinos of the Mississippi and the city of New Orleans. Five Card Draw remained the most popular poker variant until the beginning of the 20th century when it was overtaken by seven card stud and then later by Texas hold'em.

Five-card draw is played as follows:-

  • Each player places their ante into the pot.
  • Each player is dealt five cards.
  • Each player either bets or passes.
  • If every player passes, gather the cards in and start again.
  • Remaining players either call, raise or fold.
  • Each of the surviving players is given the option to "draw" (exchange some cards for an equal number from the top
  • of the deck).
  • Another round of betting commences after every player in the hand has either drawn or stayed.
  • Remaining players show their hands following the betting round.
  • Player with the highest hand takes the pot!
  • 5 card draw poker can be played with fixed limit, pot limit or even no-limit betting.


Playing 5 card draw is awesome, feels like being in a cowboy film! The game is all about reading your opponents as well as knowing the poker hand odds. Being the last player can be an advantage in 5 card draw as you can see how many cards each of your opponents has drawn. However, many players will try and confuse you with the draw! For instance, players holding just a pair, will often draw just 2 cards (keeping the pair plus highest card) attempting to make you believe they are holding trips (three of a kind). Additionally, players actually holding trips, will often just draw 1 card only, letting you believe they hold two pair! Although a simple variant, 5 card draw poker involves lots of strategy, misdirection and bluffing. Its easy to see why this type of poker was the dominant game for so many years.

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