Long before Texas Hold 'em became the most popular form of poker in the world, 5-Card Draw was the game of choice for many players.

5-Card Draw is a draw poker game, meaning that players can choose to discard any of the five cards in their starting hand and draw new cards. As with Hold 'em, the goal in 5-Card Draw is to make the best five-card high hand.

Blinds

Like flop-based games such as Hold 'em, draw games feature blinds to stimulate action at the table. The small blind and big blind are assigned to the players to the left of the dealer button, which determines the order in which cards are dealt.

Dealer button and blinds

When you first buy in to a 5-Card Draw game, you'll have the option of waiting for the big blind to reach your position before you begin playing or posting a blind equivalent to the big blind to be dealt immediately, except when sitting in a position that would put you in the small blind position or on the button, where you'll have to wait for the next hand to play.

The Deal and First Round of Betting

Once the blinds are posted, the hand is underway. With 5-Card Draw, five cards are dealt face down to each player in the hand, starting with the player to the left of the dealer button.

Hole cards dealt

After the cards are dealt, the first round of betting ensues. Starting with the player to the left of the big blind, each player has the option to fold their hand, call the current bet or raise it up! If no one raises, the player in the big blind has the option to check their hand, meaning that player makes no bet but still retains their hand.

The amount you can bet or raise is determined by the betting structure of the game you're playing:

  • If the game is No Limit, you can bet all of your chips at any point in the hand
  • If the game is Pot Limit, you can bet up to the size of the pot at any point in the hand
  • If the game is Fixed Limit, you can bet in increments of a predetermined betting limit that corresponds to the size of the blinds

The Draw

When the first round of betting is complete, all players still in the hand have the option to discard any or all of their cards and draw new ones. Click on the cards you want to discard, and then click the Discard button when it's your turn to act.

Discard button

Alternatively, you can select the cards you want to discard and then check the Discard pre-action option, so your cards will be automatically discarded when it's your turn to act.

Discard preaction

If you prefer not to discard any cards, you have the option to "stand pat". To do so, either check the Stand Pat pre-action option, or click the Stand Pat button when it's your turn to act:

Stand pat button

Once all players have discarded, new cards will be drawn from the deck and each player will be dealt the same number of cards which they discarded.

Please note: In draw games, it's possible for more cards to be needed than are available in the deck. In this case, a reshuffling of the deck will take place. Learn about reshuffling the deck in draw games.

The Final Round of Betting and Showdown

After the draw, a final round of betting takes place, beginning with the first player to the left of the button. If no one has bet, you have the option to check your hand or make a bet. If you're facing a bet, you have the option to fold, call or raise.

At the showdown, the player with the best high hand wins the pot. If there is a tie for the best hand, the pot will be split equally amongst the tied players. Occasionally the pot cannot be split evenly amongst all players. If there are any remaining chips left in the pot, the 'extra' chips will be awarded one at a time to the remaining players, starting with the player closest to the left of the button. Learn more about hand rankings.

Players do not show their cards simultaneously. The showdown takes place in a specified order.

The software shows the cards of the first player to have bet or the last player to have raised in any previous round. If the next active player has a better hand than the one just shown (or ties it), the software shows his cards. If the next active player does not have a better hand, the software offers that player a choice. He can show his cards, if he wishes, or he can just get rid of the cards (muck). The software treats each remaining active player in turn the same-either turning over the hand if it is better than (or tied with) any shown thus far or offering the choice of showing or mucking-and awards the pot to the best hand.

Don't worry about inadvertently misreading your hand and accidentally throwing away a winner. As long as you have called to the end, the software awards the pot to the winning hand and reports in the chat box the value of that hand. The software makes sure that if your hand is the best at the showdown you win. If the betting is not equalized on the final round, that is, one player bet or raised and no one called, there is no showdown, and the software awards the pot to the player who made that uncalled bet. This is the case on any previous round, as well. If it happens on earlier rounds, no further cards are dealt, because the hand is over.

Sometimes a player runs out of chips before all the betting is over. In such case, one or more side pots are created, and the software awards appropriate main and side pots. When a player is all in, a bet or raise can be made that is not called, but a showdown still takes place.

Players often do not show losing hands. You are entitled, however, to see any cards that were active at the showdown even if they were not shown. Click on LAST HAND to bring up a new window that shows the results of the last hand and all the active cards. You can also specify in that window any previous hand (up to the last 50 in your current session) on which to get a report.

If you like 5-Card Draw, be sure to check out our other draw games: 2-7 Triple Draw, 2-7 Single Draw, A-5 Triple Draw and Badugi.