Five Card Draw Rules
Five Card Draw is the most popular of the draw format poker games. Unlike community-card games like Texas Holdem and Omaha, draw poker players each hold cards that are exclusively theirs for the duration of the hand. In five card draw, no other player sees any of another players’ cards, so the ability to read another player’s strength based on their draws and betting actions is crucial to success.
In online five card draw, the order of betting is determined by a dealer button that passes clockwise around the table after each hand (see figure). Although the actual dealing is done by a casino employee (or computer), the player who is on the button acts in turn as if they were dealing the cards.
The first two players to the left of the dealer post the small blind and big blind to start the action. These forced bets are called blinds because the players must make them in turn regardless of the strength of their hands (which they don’t know yet). The big blind is often equivalent to the smallest betting increment, and the small blind is half that. In a 2/4 game, the small blind bet would be 1, and the big blind would bet 2.
After the blinds are posted, the dealer distributes five cards to each player, one at a time, starting with the player to the left of the button. The action on the first round is on the player to the left of the big blind (see P3 on the image), who must either fold, call, or raise. After looking at her cards, she can elect to fold, returning her cards to the dealer, risking no money, and sitting out for the rest of the hand. She can elect to call, which means matching the current highest bet, or she can raise, which increases the current highest bet by one unit.
In a 2/4 game, the small blind puts in 1, the big blind puts in 2, and the first player to act after the deal can fold, call 2, or raise to 4 or more. After this person acts, each player to their left must either fold, call, or raise on their turn. Fixed limit games have a maximum of three raises per round of betting. In Pot Limit games, the raise can go up to the current pot size. For more information about this, check: types of limits of five card draw.
When the action gets around to the blinds, they can stay in the hand by matching the current highest bet. The chips they have already contributed to the pot (the blind bets) count towards their requirement to stay in. If no one raised the pot on the first round of betting, and the stakes are 2/4, the small blind could stay in with only one more chip, and the big blind could elect to check, meaning they wish to add no more chips at this point. Once all players have either folded or matched the same amount of betting, the drawing round begins.
The first player to the left of the button that in still in the hand can discard one or more of their cards, receiving a replacement from the dealer, in an attempt to improve their hand. A player can also stand pat, which means they are satisfied with their original five cards. Each player around the table then gets a chance to draw to improve their own hand.
After each player has drawn, the final round of betting begins, with the player to the button’s left acting first. The minimum bet on this round is doubled. The first player may bet or check. Checking means simply that they are passing their turn without taking any action for now. If nobody has bet before a player, they too may check or bet. It is possible for the latter round of betting to be checked down if nobody elects to bet.
After each player has acted on the final round, if more than one player remains, a showdown occurs. All players reveal their hands, and the best five card hand wins, according to standard poker hand rankings.