OBJECTIVE OF 5 CARD DRAW: Form the best hand and win the pot at the showdown.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-6 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: 52-card deck

RANK OF CARDS: A, K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2




Draw Poker, or Five Card Draw, is one of Poker’s simplest and oldest forms! In fact, it was the best-known form of Poker until Texas Hold’Em became popular!

Since you don’t see any of your opponent’s cards, there are lots of opportunities to bluff in 5 card draw. Below, we will go over the 5 Card Draw rules, some variants, and some game strategies!

Check out our guides on poker hand rankings and basic poker rules for an introduction to Poker; in these rules, we will assume you are familiar with Poker.


5 card draw rules setup

The set up for 5 Card Draw is relatively simple. The dealer will shuffle the deck and all players will pay their antes. Five cards will be dealt to each player and the betting can begin.


Before the deal, each player pays the ante to the pot. Typically, the ante is equal to the minimum bet. For example, many play with an ante of 5 cents.


After, begin the deal by shuffling the cards and cutting the deck. The dealer passes each player one card, face-down, at a time until each player has a hand of 5 cards. Players examine their hands, and a round of betting begins.


5 Card Draw is played through a series of betting rounds. Players will have to bet, call, raise, or fold throughout depending on the strength of their hands.


After everyone has looked at their cards, betting begins with the player to the dealer’s left. If everyone checks (or passes) in the first round, all players throw their hands in, and the cards are dealt by the new dealer (the player on the left of the first dealer). The pot stays, and players place a new ante.

The first betting round is limited to 4 raises in fixed and spread-limit games.


If there is more than one active player after the first round of betting, players can improve the cards in hand by discarding some and drawing replacements. Starting with the first active player to the dealer’s left, players announce the amount they intend to dicard and place the cards face down. The dealer passes them an equal amount of cards in return.

Players can discard 0-3 cards. Discarding 0 cards is called standing pat since your hand remains the same.

The deck can become exhausted during this phase in games with six players. The dealer shuffles the discards, cuts them, and creates a new deck.


After each player could draw, the second betting round commenced. It begins with the player who started the first round of betting. Bets can be between the minimum and maximum limits, and the limits are typically doubled in this round.


After the second round of betting, if a player has not won the pot , active players reveal their hands, starting with the last person who bet and moving clockwise. The player with the best hand wins the pot.


As an example, here’s a hand of 5 Card Draw. There are three players Player A (PA), Player B (PB), and Player C (PC). 

  • Each player pays their ante to start the hand. 
  • The dealer deals and gives each player their starting hand of 5 cards. 
  • PA looks at their hand and checks. PB looks at their hand and makes a bet of 50 cents. PC decides to call PB’s bet and also adds 50 cents to the pot. PA must now call, raise, or fold, and decides to call adding 50 cents to the pot as well.
  • All players now discard. PA discards 3 cards face down. PB only discards 1 card face down. PC splits the middle and discards 2 cards face down.
  • The dealer deals them their new cards. A new betting round begins. 
  • PA raises the bet and adds a dollar to the pot. 
  • PB decides to call and places a dollar in the pot as well. 
  • PC decides to fold and is removed from the hand.
  • Now the Showdown begins, and both remaining players reveal their hands.

PA’s hand is a pair of 5s and a three-of-a-kind of Jacks. PB’s hand is 5 cards of the heart suit, not in ranking order, a flush. PA wins the hand and collects the pot.


Below we will go over a few ways to improve your game. Once you know the rules, you will have to start developing your own playstyle and strategies.


Bluffing is a valuable asset to have in any poker game. When you bluff, it allows you to change your opponent’s perception of your hand. You can use this to make your hand seem better to get others to fold or to downplay your hand to keep players in. In 5 Card Draw, bluffing becomes even more important. Because you and your opponents share no cards, they can only know what you tell them about your hand.


You have lots of hidden information in 5 Card Draw. Keeping information close to the chest is best to win more and keep your opponents in the dark. Do not reveal your hand after you fold, as this will give away more than just the cards you held. Also, even when trying to bluff, stay away from specifics; letting on about what you have in your hand can only hinder you.


Changing up your play style every once in a while is smart. You will hear poker players saying new players are hard to play against because of their unpredictability; channel that. Having a clear strategy in your head for a game is useful, but never deviating from it makes it easier to read.


Keep your eyes open when playing Poker. Even the most professional poker players make mistakes. Playing with the same people over time will give you an idea of their play styles and make it easier to find tells.

Head over to our guide to Poker strategy for an in depth guide.


Five Card stud rules hand ranking

The hand rankings for 5 Card Draw follow the standard poker hand rankings.

  • Highest- A Royal Flush is made of 5 cards, all of the same suit in order from ace down.
  •  A Straight Flush comprises five cards of the same suit in ranking order.
  •  Four-of-a-kinds are pretty simple; you need four cards of the same rank.
  •  A Full House is a pair and a three-of-a-kind together.
  •  A Flush is five cards of the same suit.
  •  Straights are made when you have five cards in ranking order.
  •  A Three-of-a-kind is just three cards of the same rank.
  •  Two Pairs are two sets of two cards of the same rank.
  •  A Pair is just two cards of the same rank.
  •  Lowest- A High Card is when you have nothing but the highest card in your hand.


There are many variations of the game Poker; in fact, 5 Card Draw is one. Here are a few more variations you can add to these rules.


Lowball is a variation of the 5 Card Draw rules that changes a few things. It makes aces the lowest-ranked card and removes straights and flushes from the hand rankings.


To add a twist and to keep things fair, you can add or remove limits from your game. There are usually three types. No limits allow you to bet however much you want during the game. A pot limit says you can only bet as much is already in the pot. Otherwise, you can set limits of maximum and minimum bets for players.


A variant rule to shake up your game is the Wild Card. Some add the joker to make a deck of 53 cards. Others will play 2s as wild cards or discard the top card of the deck before dealing, and the remaining three cards of that rank are wild. A wild card in your game makes a 5-of-a-kind possible and the highest-ranking hand!


  • CELESTIAL: Celestial is a form of poker where players will construct two separate hands for the showdown. One in the style of 5 card Draw and one in the fashion of Omaha.
  • ROLL YOUR OWN POKER: Roll Your Own Poker is a form of stud poker where each player receives 7 cards and chooses which cards to reveal before betting rounds.
  • AUCTION FLOP POKER: Auction Flop Poker is another draw style poker game, but with the twist of bidding for flop cards.


Is Five Card Draw Luck or Skill?

For those newer to the game, it feels very luck-based. However, the game becomes more strategic once a player develops experience and strategy.

Why Is 5 Card Draw Not Played At Casinos?

The main reason is that 5 Card Draw takes longer. You must deal and re-deal more cards than popular casino games like Texas Hold’em.

Is 5 Card Draw Easy?

The 5 Card Draw rules are easy to learn. Mastering the game is much harder, but new players and old-timers alike enjoy the game!

Amber Crook
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