Five card draw starting hands

In five card draw it is crucial that you play only high quality starting hands. Consistent play of low pairs and hands on the draw will produce equally consistent losses to your bankroll. Read below for a solid guide on what starting hands you should play in online five card draw. Most of this article covers pairs and two pairs, but assume that anything higher than two pair is almost always a playable hand. Also, keep in mind that we are referring to a nine or ten people table. If you are in a game with less players, you can loosen up a little bit more (but not too much).

Premium Pairs

Premium pairs in five card draw are aces, kings and queens. These are all strong hands that will win you a lot of money in the long run. There is however a time and a place for each of these three hands. A pair of aces can be played from any position at the table. This is your bread and butter hand and you need to play it aggressively. Open bet or raise with aces unless you know for sure an opponent has a better hand. Kings and queens are strong hands, but should be played with caution in early positions. You should open bet or raise with these hands in middle to late position. Be aggressive with all the premium pairs, but play them wisely and in proper position. In most five card draw games, you should not open bet in 1st position with a pair of queens!

Jacks and tens

These are playable pairs but generally should only be played from late position or in the blinds. Playing pairs lower than tens is a great way to lose lots of money playing five card draw online. Only play shorts (pairs below ten) when you can for cheap or have an obvious read on a weak opponent.

Two pair

Two pair is one of the hardest hands to play well in five card draw. You can make it easier to play by playing only high quality two pair hands. High quality hands are those usually consisting of jacks up or better. In early position you should only play two pair of at least kings up. In middle position you can add two pairs with queens up to your arsenal. Jacks up and tens up are okay too, but they should be played with as much caution as a single pair of these two ranks. Play them in late position.

Starting hands chart

Use this chart as a guide for what hands you should play from what positions when playing five card draw online. As you can see, one of the most important skills to learn in this game is to make the right choices according to your position on the table.


Hands to play

Small Blind

Most pairs, come (drawing) hands and Ace high/face can be played here if the pot hasn’t been raised. Raise with a pair of eights or better.

Large Blind

Any hand if you can check. Pair of aces or kings, or pretty much any two pair or come hand if the pot has three or four players in it and you can call cheap (proper odds).

Under the gun

A pair of aces, two pair only if kings or higher are included

4th position

A pair of aces, two pair only if queens or higher are included

5th position

A pair of aces, two pair only if jacks or higher are included

6th position

A pair of kings, two pair only if tens or higher are included

7th position

A pair of queens or better

Dealer button

A pair of Tens or better. Open with a pair of nines if you hold face cards or tens.


Use the table above as a reference, but don’t forget to adapt your play according to the number of players on the table and their behavior.