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Five Card Draw: The Original Poker Game

For most poker aficionados, the Five Card Draw is poker in its original form. It is usually the first type of poker that a new player learns, and it is to the Five Card Draw that all other poker variations owe their existence.

Although the original game of Five Card Draw has lost some of its popularity and is seldom seen in casinos both online and off, it contains all the essentials that any beginner needs to learn before playing the many variations of poker that exist today.

Object Of Five Card Draw

The idea is for players to build the best five-card hand from two dealings of the deck. After the first deal and the first round of betting, the players may discard (throw away) some or all of their first round of cards and receive replacement cards.

Thus, Five Card Draw is unique in that players have the opportunity to exchange their cards to try and improve their hands. If you don’t like what you have, you can always try your luck with new cards.

Five Card Draw: An Overview

–      A dealer is designated and the deck shuffled. Before opening the game, the dealer must decide how many cards each player can draw from the deck after the first round of betting.

The standard limit is three. In some games, a player may draw four cards if he/she is holding an Ace, which must be shown to the table.

–      Each player must pay the ante that qualifies him or her to play. The dealer now deals out the cards one at a time and face down to each player. The deal begins to the dealers left and continues until all players have five cards.

–      Players may now pick up their cards. The player on the dealers left must open the betting round by placing a bet, passing, or folding. Some Five Card Draw games stipulate that it is necessary to have at least a pair of Jacks to open the betting.

–      Play goes to the next player to the left who now has the opportunity to bet or fold. If the previous player passed, the next player can pass or place a bet.

If previous players placed a bet and want to stay in the round, they must call by matching any outstanding bets. The player may then raise by placing a bet of his/her own if he/she wishes to do so. The betting continues to the left.

–      Players may now discard any or all of their cards from the first deal. All discarded cards are placed face down and the dealer collects them.

the discarded cards are taken, the dealer now goes to the left dealing out replacement cards face down. Betting now takes place again as before.

–      The dealer gets the final raise, and players must either call or fold. After the final betting round, any players still in the game have now reached the showdown. All players now reveal their hands. The best hand of five cards wins the pot.

Five Card Draw: Thumb Rules

q       Three to six players is ideal for this form of poker.

q       Betting tends to be relatively low.

q       Keep a close eye on how many cards each player draws from the deck.

q       No cards are ever dealt face up, and cards are only shown to the other players at showdown.

q       Usually a high pair or better wins the pot.

Five Card Draw Tips

N     Traditionalists believe that to open the betting in Five Card Draw, a player should have at least a four-card flush, four-card straight, or a high pair. However, if betting is light and you are holding a small pair, a medium pair, or even two high cards, stay in for the next round. (Incidentally, a high pair is generally a pair of Jacks or higher; a pair of 7s, 8s, 9s or l0s would be considered a medium pair; and a pair of 6s or less a small pair).

N     If the betting is high in the opening round and you are not holding at least a pair, there is a good chance that at least one player has at least a high pair.

This holds particularly true if there are more players at the table. However, if players are betting high in the opening round, it indicates the strength, regardless of the number of players. Your chances of drawing a hand to beat them are slim so consider bluffing rather than chasing cards in the hopes of improving your hand.

N     If you have a strong hand — a high three of one kind, for example resist opening with a large bet: You do not want to scare off potential bettors. Play it cool in the opening round and just call bets. In some cases, a raise might work if another player has already raised the opening bet.

N     With a high pair, however, consider making a fairly high bet. This is a strong, but certainly not unbeatable, hand. By betting high you might drive out some players and improve your chances of winning the pot.

N     To improve your hand on the draw, you need something to draw to. So if you are holding a pair of Kings, keep them and draw three new cards.

Players who keep their pair and draw three new cards have a 1 in 4 chance of improving their hands. In general, it is smarter to build on what you have, rather than chase a possible better hand. For instance, if you are dealt 7-8-9-J-J, don’t break up the Jacks in the hopes of drawing to a straight.

N     Drawing to a four-flush or four straight can pay off. However, going after an inside straight, or a three straight (three cards in sequence) or three flushes (three suited cards) is risky at best. So don’t even try. Most professional players will tell you never to draw to an inside straight.

N     During the draw, keep a close eye on how many cards other players draw. By noting their draw, you will gain some insight into the strength of their hands. In general, if they draw three cards, they are probably holding a pair.

If they draw two, they have three of a kind or are unwisely going after a straight or a flush. If they draw one card, they might have two pairs or they may be trying to draw a straight or flush.

Players can also stand pat (not draw any cards). This means they are holding a good hand, perhaps a full house, straight, or flush. Or they may be bluffing.

N     Try and detect any tells in other players once they pick up their new cards. Did you pick up any reaction when they received their new cards? Do they seem a little too eager to start the second round of betting?

N     Another strategic ploy in a five-card draw is holding on to a kicker. A kicker is an extra high card you keep when drawing to a pair. Thus, if you have a low pair, say a pair of 6s, you hold on to a high card in the hopes of getting a high pair to go along with your low pair.

Holding on to kickers also throws off your opponents. If you draw two cards to a low pair and a high card, your opponents wonder if you are holding three of a kind!

N     After the draw, pay attention to how others bet. If they do so aggressively or make a big raise, there is a good chance that they improved their hand (or they may be bluffing).

If they check the betting or bet modestly, they are probably unsure whether their hand is good enough to win.

N     By the second round, if you feel that your hand has a strong chance of winning, bet aggressively. At this point, you want to maximize the pot.

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