The 5 card draw is seemingly the one poker game that everyone begins with. In fact, it may very well be the first-ever recorded games, traceable as far back as the Wild Wild West era. According to the legends, the infamous ‘Wild’ bill Hickock was allegedly shot while playing the game. It is said that he died holding two pairs, eights, and aces—a hand, since dubbed the name ‘dead man’s hand’.
Although, now far less common casinos and gambling dens, where it’s been superseded by Texas Hold em and Omaha poker’s likes, the game is still pretty popular at homes and in online poker platforms.
Luckily, if you’ve played any other form of poker, you’ll find the 5 card draw fairly simple and pretty straightforward to learn. But to the complete novice player, there is still some learning curve to expect.
In our article, we’ll highlight the fundamentals of the game to help shed a little light on how to get started out fast. We’ll also give you a few foundational tips on what steps to follow in online play. Let’s get started:
Poker Hand Rankings
Learn How to Play 5 Card Draw: Hand Rankings
The first step as a beginner to any poker game is to know the ranking of the hands. This is the only way you can know whether you have a winning hand or not. And the 5 card draw is no exception. For this reason, we shall start by looking at the hierarchy of cards.
The hand ranks in 5 card draw games are quite similar to most other poker games. Therefore, it follows the most common poker rules. Just like Texas Hold’em, the poker hand rankings range from weak to strong. They include:
High card – This is usually the weakest hand. Whereby you don’t have any combination of cards in the set. Therefore, it is valued by its highest ranking card.
One pair – Here is when you have just two cards of one denomination in a set of five.
Two pair – Here, you have two pairs of cards, each pair consisting of two cards of the same denomination.
Three of a kind – This includes three cards of the same denomination in a set
Straight – This Is when you have five cards that are in sequential order
Flush – These are any five cards that have the same suit.
Full house – Here, your set of five consists of two cards of one denomination and three cards of a different denomination.
Four of a kind – These are four cards having the same denomination in your set
Straight flush – On top of having five cards of the same order, they are also of the same suit
Royal flush – This includes a jack, Ten, king, ace, and queen of the same suit
Now, the overall goal as you play 5 card draw poker is to try and be the player with the best hand after a draw. Naturally, having a stronger hand than your opponent automatically makes you a winner. Onto the gameplay.
The actual gameplay in poker game
Now that you have an understanding of the hands, it is time to play the game. As we’ve seen, you are working on getting the highest ranked hand.
So how do you play the game? And what are the card draw rules exactly? Well, much like a flop game, the 5 card draw game is played with a button (dealer) and blinds. It begins with a deal and then follows a draw.
The deal is basically when the dealer deals each player a certain amount of hole cards (cards dealt face down) from the deck. Usually, the maximum numbers of hands for a 5 card draw game are 6. Because of the game’s nature, having any more than 6 might mean that there are not enough cards to cover for each player’s draw.
Now, depending on the betting structure in play, the poker hand itself can start either one of two ways. Sometimes, it starts when each player posts an ante, or it can start with blinds.
Antes vs blinds
The difference between the two methods of play is quite simple. The ante method, which was the original and most popular in home games, is where each player pays a predetermined amount of money (ante) before any card is dealt to them.
The blinds, on the other hand are where only the two players sitting to the left of the dealer are required to pay money before being dealt the cards.
There are two types of blinds: the small blind and the big blind. It is important to distinguish them both. Let’s break it down.
Small blind – this is a forced bet imposed on the player to the left of the dealer. Small blinds are usually half the amount of the big blind (the full bet amount)
Big blind – the player seated on the small blind’s immediate left also pays a forced bet. It’s called the big blind. Usually, the big blind is the amount of the full bet. it is twice the amount of the small blind.