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How to Play Draw Poker

How to Play Draw Poker
by K. Swope of

Draw poker is one of the oldest and most commonly known forms of poker. This article explains how to play the game of 5 Card Draw. Depending on the poker sites or casinos you play at, the style of draw poker may vary. Earlier forms of the game where played with antes, and other odd house rules. However, after the recent explosion in poker’s popularity the more common form is played with a small blind and big blind. The article will depict a draw game using the “blinds” method.

A 5 Card Draw Poker game should seat only up to 5 players. There are only few sites that will allow up to six players, but this is rare. A dealer is designated and the two players to the immediate left of the dealer become the small and big blinds, respectively. In a limit game such as $3/6 the small blind will usually be one/third of the small bet, or one dollar. The big blind is then equal to the small bet, or three dollars. In no limit the blinds are set in relation to the buy-in amount or table stakes.

Starting to the left of the dealer each player is dealt five cards face down in a singular, one-at-a-time, style. Each player must then decide to call, raise, or fold their hands. After this is done the remaining players starting to the left of the dealer and moving clockwise may choose to keep all five cards he/she was dealt, known commonly as “standing pat”, or selecting to discard from one to all five of the cards that player is holding. The number of cards a player decides to discard is immediately replaced with an equal number of new card(s) from the deck. After every player has drawn; a round of betting is performed. The remaining players reveal their hands with the best five cards winning the pot.


Basic Tips

Draw poker is a unique form of this classic game. The method in which calculating possible hands is done by watching how many cards a player chooses to draw, and how that player bets after a draw is made. A simple guide to understanding this method is shown below.

Standing pat: A player may often do this in early position in an attempt to bluff at a pot; betting heavily after each player draws to their respective hands.

The player has been dealt a starting hand consisting of a straight or flush. You should only consider staying in the hand if drawing to three-of-a-kind or better.

Drawing 1: The player is starting with two pair and is hoping to make a full house. This player will often bet after drawing to get a sense of what strength their hand holds.

The player has an open end straight draw such as 9,8,7,6 or has four suited cards to a flush. This player will almost always check if missing their hand after the draw.

Drawing 2: This player may have attempted a gamble and is drawing two cards to a three card flush draw or straight draw.

The player has a strong starting pair like Aces and is hoping to disguise the hand by drawing two instead of three cards.

The player is starting with a very dangerous hand like three-of-a-kind.

Drawing 3: Most likely this player has a quality starting pair like Aces or Kings and is hoping to catch a second pair or bettor on their draw. A bet here after the draw indicates a stronger hand has been made.

Drawing 4: This player is holding Ace high and is gambling to make a bettor hand; commonly seen done from players sitting in the small or big blind.

Drawing 5: This player is giving away to much information as their starting hand amounted to nothing. They are trying to beat incredible odds by catching a hand in five cards; also commonly seen done from the small or big blinds.

Related: 5 Card Draw Poker Strategy


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