How to Play 5 Card Draw Poker

How to Play 5 Card Draw Poker

Five Card Draw is a conceptually simple poker variant and one that has been in existence from the early days of poker. It is a fun game, there are no open cards so the information available to players is limited to their own cards and whatever reads they can make on their opponentsusing live tells and betting patterns. It is a game where bluffing features frequently.  

Five Card Draw is also half of the game Sviten Special, or Drawmaha. This game is gaining popularity in Europe and the United States as a fun, gambling game that is probably a long way away from being solveable. Learn how to play Pot Limit Sviten Special by buying my book from Amazon.  

As well as the basic game of Five Card Draw there are some variants, each with their own twist to make an already interesting poker game a little different. So, let’s get on with learning how to play Five Card Draw.

Basic Rules and How to Play 5 Card Draw Poker

Here is an excellent video we at Pokerlistings have prepared to give a full and clear description of how the basic game of Five Card Draw is dealt and played. 

Blinds or Antes? 

Any poker hand must start with some forced betting, so the players have something to play for.  

Antes are small bet amounts placed by every player who will be dealt into the hand. Each player pays the exact same amount and once the dealer has collected each person’s ante, they will deal the cards.  

Blinds are also small bets and usually these are posted by the two players to the left of the dealer button. Typically, the player to the immediate left of the dealer button will post the smaller amount, known as the small blind, and the person to their left will post an amount usually exactly double the amount of the small blind and known, unsurprisingly, as the big blind. When the two blinds have been posted the dealer will leave the blind bets in front of the two players and pitch cards to the players.  

Learn Poker with PokerListings 2

Playing poker using blind bets is of course very familiar to anyone who has played the most popular poker game, No Limit Texas Hold Em!  

The Initial Deal 

After the forced bets, whether antes or blinds, the dealer will now start to give cards to the players. Cards are given face down one at a time starting with the player to the left of the dealer button and the dealer continues this process in a clockwise direction around the table until each player has five cards.  

First Betting Round 

Once the players have all their five cards they can then start to fight over the money in the pot! The first player to make a betting decision is the player to the left of the dealer button in an ante game or the first to the left of the big blind in a blind game.  

When antes are used, the first player to act can opt to check – that is, make no betting action – or to bet. Every subsequent player, in a clockwise direction, can also check if there has been no bet placed by a player. If a bet has been made the next player can choose to fold by discarding their hand and taking no further part in this hand. If they prefer to continue in the hand, they can do so by calling the bet – that is, placing a bet that matches the amount of the original bet – or by raising the bet to a larger amount. 

Note that in some cases where antes are used the house rule is that a player must have at least a pair of jacks to open the betting.  

When blinds are used, the player to the left of the big blind will act first and can choose to fold, call or raise. Just like in Texas Hold Em.  

The betting round continues until all players have either matched the amount of the last bet made or folded their cards. A further complication can arise if one player or more does not have enough money in front of them to match the biggest bet, in which case they can continue in the hand but will be considered “all in.” A more comprehensive breakdown of betting rules can be found in our article on how to play Texas Hold Em

After the first betting round it is time for players to draw cards. 

The Draw 

All players who have not folded their hands can now change cards. This process starts with the player to the left of the dealer button. They can choose to keep the five cards they already have – in other words to “stand pat” – or to change any number of cards from 1 to 5. There are some home games where the number of cards one can draw is limited to three: this protects the weaker players – it is never advisable to pay money to draw four or five cards!  

The dealer will “burn” a card – place the top card of the deck face down, to take no part in anyone’s hand – then replace the player’s discards with a matching number of cards from the top of the remaining deck. This process is repeated for each player in a clockwise direction until each player has had their one and only chance to exchange cards.  

Note that if the house rule is that the player must have a pair of jacks or better to open the betting, the player’s discards will be kept, face down, close to the player so they can be examined if challenged: they might break a pair to try to draw to a flush or straight, even though it is not a good tactic. If this rule is not in play the dealer will collect all the discards.  

The Final Betting Round 

5 Card Draw in play at online poker table

Starting to the left of the dealer button, the players now have another, final, chance to bet on the strength of their hands. After that betting round, if only one person at the table has not folded their hand, they will be awarded the pot with no compulsion to show their cards. If at least two players have remained in the hand, there is now a showdown. The players show their cards and the person with the strongest holding according to the traditional ranking of poker hands will win the money in the pot.  

The dealer button will move one seat to the left after the completion of the hand.  

Strategy Tips 

Here are a few tips to get you started with Five Card Draw: 

  • Don't play too many hands. Much like Hold'em the biggest mistake beginners make is getting in over their heads playing small pairs and drawing hands. For example, it can be tempting to pay to draw two cards to a flush, but this hand will be completed less than one in 40 attempts! 
  • Position is king. Again, much like Holdem position matters a lot in 5-Card Draw. It is not only about seeing how your opponent bets, but also seeing how many cards they draw. 
  • Come into pots with a raise rather than a limp. Giving the person in the big blind a free chance to draw cards is a huge mistake in this game. 
  • Avoid playing drawing hands unless you're in the blinds: even then, be careful not to pay too much. Drawing one card to a flush you will complete your hand only 19.1% of the time.  
  • If you have a pair, draw three cards. Draw two when you have 3-of-a-kind. Draw one when you have two pair. 

A Few Variants of Five Card Draw 

“Bug” Variant 

Five Card Draw poker with a “bug,” is popular in parts of the United States of America. This variant sees a joker added to the normal deck of cards, making a 53-card deck. The joker can be used as an ace, or to complete a straight or flush.  

Example hands using a “bug:” 

  • J-J-5-5-bug is two pairs, jacks over fives, with an ace kicker. 
  • A 8 6 5 -bug is a flush, AK865 – as the ace is already present the bug acts as the highest card of the suit not in the hand. 
  • A-A-A-A-bug is five of a kind and this is the best possible hand in the game, even beating a straight flush.  

Deuces Wild Variant 

This variant is always of the type where the player must hold a pair of jacks or better to open the betting. 

All the four deuces in the deck are wild cards and they can be used as any card required to complete their hand.  

Example hands in deuces wild five card draw: 

  • A-A-A-2-2 is five of a kind, aces, and is the best possible hand in this game, beating a royal flush. 
  • A J 8 5 2 is a flush, AKJ85. The ace of hearts is already present in the player’s hand, and, in this variant, the wild card is used as the next highest-ranking card of a suit in completing a flush.  

An unusual aspect to this game is that cards do not speak – the player must declare the value of their hand when showing down. This can mean that a player incorrectly declares the value of their hand and loses the hand as a result. For example: 

  • Player A declares “Aces full of fives” and shows down A-A-A-5-2. They have a hand that qualifies as four of a kind, aces, but incorrectly declared their hand and now they have only a full house! 
  • Player B correctly declares “Four of a kind, tens” and tables 10-10-10-7-2. They win the pot with four of a kind against a full house purely because Player A made the error.  

Stripped Deck Variant

Five-card draw is sometimes played with a stripped deck, which means that some of the cards are removed from the standard 52-card deck. This variant is also known as "seven-to-ace" or "ace-to-seven" (abbreviated as A-7 or 7-A). It can be played by up to four players with cards of ranks ranging from 2 to 6 removed, leaving a 32-card deck. With five players, the sixes are added to make a 36-card deck. The deck thus contains only eight or nine different card ranks, compared to 13 in a standard deck. This affects the probabilities of making specific hands, so the ranking of hands at showdown is changed: a flush will beat a full house.

Still Looking for a New Following

Five-Card Stud is one of the last "dinosaur" games that has yet to catch a huge following online. While there are a few sites, like PokerStars, still spreading it operators have yet to find a way to popularize it like Five-Card Draw.

If you jump in a 5-Card Stud game online you'll find a strong but friendly community that will help you get the most from your playing time. You also stand a good chance of being the first in a new wave of players that love the game and bring it back to prominence!

If you like 5-Card Draw many popular casino table games draw on the basics of 5-Card Draw (see what we did there) so you might enjoy a punt or two playing games like Ultimate Hold'emPai GowCaribbean Stud or Video Poker.

More Poker Games:

Five Card Draw FAQs

  • How to play 5 card draw?

    The object of 5-Card Draw is simple: make the best 5-card poker hand possible after one draw and bet accordingly. The player with the best hand after the second betting round takes the pot.
  • What are the best hands in 5 card draw?

    The best hands in 5-Card draw poker follow the standard poker hand rankings. So Royal Flush would be best and High Card would be worst.

    Here's a full list of poker hand rankings and explanations.
  • What is 5 card draw?

    Five-card draw poker is considered the simplest poker variant - and is the basis for video poker. It's the kind of poker you're used to seeing in movies and on TV. As a result, it's often the first variant learned by new players, aside from Texas Hold'em.
  • Who wins in 5 card draw?

    The player with the best hand after the second betting round takes the pot.
  • How to deal 5 card draw?

    Once all players have anted (or the blinds have been paid), the dealer deals every player (starting on his left) five cards face down. After all players receive their five cards, the first betting round ensues.
  • What is the best 5 card draw strategy?

    Here are Five-Card Draw strategy tips to remember:

    - If you have a pair, draw three cards. Draw two when you have 3-of-a-kind. Draw one when you have two pair.
    - Don't play too many small pairs and drawing hands unless you're in the blinds.
    - Come into pots with a raise rather than a limp
    - Any pair is playable on second street
    - If your upcard is higher than your opponent's, you can try taking the pot down immediately.
  • How does betting in 5 card draw work?

    After all players receive their five cards, the first betting round ensues. If you're playing with blinds the betting will start with the player to the left of the big blind (same as Hold'em). If you're playing with antes the betting must start with the player to the left of the dealer. In an ante game like this the first player to act is allowed to check (meaning they are not forced to bet and can choose to stay in the hand for free).

Jan Magalona
2021-04-02 14:41:21

Which hand wins straight flush of A2345 spades or 9TJQK spades?

Debbie from Pokerlistings
2021-04-12 08:29:04

Hey Jan,
This is incredibly rare but in this case the higher straight flush would win: 9TJQK spades.

2019-11-14 10:22:59

The first hand wins, since both are flushes, but the second best card of player 1 (K) is better than the second best card of player 2 (J).

2019-11-14 08:11:43

What hand wins AK742 Clubs or AJ976 Spades

John Rafferty 28
2017-05-14 16:42:15

what happens if the dealer give you four cards and you’ve only asked for three?

Kayla Levine
2017-03-23 22:45:16

How does the show down work with antes?

Kayla Levine
2017-03-23 22:44:12

You use clothes as money or I win. You take off an article, and it goes on like that.

2016-11-06 02:06:30

In five card draw poker, If we only have a small group, say 4 or 5 players we often use a shortened deck say 6 or 7 up.
Do the card rankings alter in this case eg, does a flush beat a full house?

Kelly Crown
2016-10-09 18:06:58

do you have to have an Ace to get 4 cards on a draw or can it be any card?

2016-05-10 15:18:11

That’s called the showdown.

2016-05-10 15:17:32

If they have both have straights with the same value (say 10 high), then they would split the pot. Hands can only ever be made of 5 cards, so you can’t use a 6th card to break the tie.

2016-05-10 15:15:42

You would form a side pot. Basically, the player who bet 20 (Player A) and the Player who raised to 40 (Player B) would both put their 20 in the main pot in the middle. Now if there are other players remaining, the additional 20 from Player B would go in the side pot and if a Player C wants to call (or raise) that money would go in the side pot too. If Player A wins the showdown, they only get the main pot. Then there is a second showdown between Players B and C to see who wins the side pot.

Nasty river
2016-05-05 22:51:06

If a player only had 20.00 in chips and bets it all and another player who has more raises to 40.00..what happens. .this is an ante. game

2016-03-19 08:30:28

When do you count the value of the cards and give the prize money

jake hall
2015-07-01 13:55:17

is it possible for a poker tournament to end in a draw or a NC or is there always a winner??

2015-06-10 14:28:43

If two players get a straight, does the player with the highest second card win? Making it using 6 cards? Or does the pot split?

2015-04-07 10:32:21

The dealer offers a cut. Does he just offer it to the player on his right only. Or if the player on his right refuses, must he offer the cut to the person next to him?

2015-03-14 10:39:23

If the players ante and are dealt five cards, then choose not to open, do the players draw up to 3 cards, or does everyone fold their hand and deal a new hand?

2015-02-27 00:49:05

Just want to know what beats what .

al bedross
2015-02-04 10:36:21

why must a player who opened…show his or her cards at the end of play if he or she loses the hand?

2015-01-26 19:00:59

Tom, the pot is split evenly among the players. The chances of this happening is very small especially a straight like that but it can happen.

2015-01-25 00:04:11

If two players are playing 5 card draw and both players showdown a high straight (10,J,Q,K,A) who wins and what is the probability of such a hand?

2015-01-15 00:06:07

A flush In five cards of the same suite

2015-01-09 01:33:27

what is a flush

2014-12-06 09:53:14

who is dealt the cards in the draw round ; ;the player that started the betting or the player to the left of the daealer

2014-11-28 16:30:24

when I have five cards in my hand,can I change four cards and recive the first four cards at once or I get thre card and afther theater I get the one back

2014-10-31 20:34:09

Very clear and brief.

jack baker
2014-09-03 23:41:52

I thought that in playing five card draw, you had to have a pair of jacks or better to open.

2014-08-27 05:19:16

@todd No because A is already considered the highest -Ace. A can only be considered low when it’s with the lowest numbers. Therefore you have a high card.

2014-07-27 08:15:46

If the dealer specifies that you need a pair of jacks or better to open what is the order of betting after you have had your discards replaced.

carlene palmer
2014-04-01 11:31:46

What is the highest hand through the lowest hand

2014-03-29 01:11:15

Can you swap all five cards and get new ones in poker?

2014-02-20 19:47:05

Great basic instructions!

2014-02-02 19:46:50

if player #1 has Q

2014-01-29 19:15:23

If you have J Q K A 2- is this a straight? or is it only 10 J Q K A or A 2 3 4 5

2014-01-26 15:38:39

Hi my son had A K 7 8

2013-12-17 07:28:54

No Amanda Jordan, that is not a hand. All you have is high card king.

amanda jordan
2013-12-15 23:22:52

If you have a king queen jack a ten and seven is that any kind of hand king and queen black spade jack red heart ten and seven red diamionds is that something.

New poker player
2013-11-29 10:51:35

Are you required to show your hand at the showdown or can you fold

2013-11-14 02:49:42

A pair of kings if

2013-11-09 13:10:52

If you had one ace two kings one queen a jack and a 3 what kind of hand is this

2013-11-01 00:18:12

What are the hands highest to lowest

2013-10-09 11:56:54

If two people finish with flush and one has an ace bot the other has a pair of 5’s, who wins?

jazzy Q
2013-08-13 13:36:45

i love poker

jared alexander
2013-06-12 21:09:00

I love poker.

jared alexander
2013-06-12 21:08:58

I love poker.

2013-06-11 16:04:36

in 5 card draw if you can t open and someone else does can you raise

2013-05-05 21:13:09

If when dealing five card draw, a card is accidentally exposed what is the proper procedure?

2013-04-08 10:23:43

I have a question about five card draw. If you are dealing do you have to announce that you are standing pat ??

2013-02-15 13:16:52

5 card , guts to open,no one opens . Do you redeal , or draw to the best hand ?

2013-02-06 12:41:58

Whats the ruling on splitting a pot say 2 people have pair of kings dose the 1 with the highest kicker win or still split

2013-02-05 04:28:45

Before any new cards are dealt, should we burn a card?

2013-01-25 09:02:45

We were playing 5 card draw 2 players were left one player bets and the other player folded after he folded the player who bet put his cards down and he had six cards Who wins ?

Uncle chop chop
2013-01-10 19:59:00

At what point in the game do you take your clothes off?

2012-12-29 23:49:10

do you have to have an ace to throw down 4cards

2012-10-12 00:41:30

Can a player open with 6,7,8,10 clubs as a possible straight flush?

antonio belpulzo
2012-10-06 17:04:36

5 cards 5 players final bet the first player chek the second chek the 3 one chek the 4 one chek and the one who give the cards bet the lowess amount . the first player can he bet ( raise) and the second one to and the 3 one to and the 4 one to .or thay just have the choice to bet wat the giving cards player bet ?and the hand is over all the players show there cards . thank

Ann Albright
2012-09-18 10:30:42

I have a question? We play 5 card draw for fun on a trail ride. We have aces and jokers wild. Here are the two hands can you tell me who wins. Q spades Q diamonds Q hearts Joker and J hearts so 4 queens with a J hearts second hand is Ace spades Ace diamonds Q spades Joker and 4 clubs so 4 queens with a 4 clubs.

2012-08-14 18:41:53

Hi there,
A question for you.
In 5 card draw a player wants to split his openers, does he have to announce that he is splitting his cards at the beginning, or ask for the card to be left at the side so that he can prove he could open at the end of the hand ?

2012-07-14 16:29:25

I have played a variation where there were two draw rounds. Is this a real variation or just a house rule??

2012-05-21 09:04:03

Sorry Monica, your twin’s right on this one. No rule says it needs to be an ace.

2012-05-21 08:45:02

You are dealt five cards…if you have to hold on to one card I say it MUST only be an ace…My twin ,Lo, states you can hold onto anything ..such as an 8 or just a ten…who is correct??

2012-04-23 11:16:23

Oops. I wanted to say, I now know better.

2012-04-23 11:07:07

I knew how to play, but I was confused. So know I know better and what to do.

Michael grant
2012-03-16 12:51:02

What are the rules/limits on betting or raises? Sonaee

2012-02-25 22:01:05

which hand wins 3kings 2tens vs 2aces 3fours

2011-08-18 20:42:21

in 5 card draw , if a player miscalls his hand , what is the ruling? Thank you

2011-06-30 02:29:14

6 people are playing 5 card draw poker. the dealer happens to deal 1 person 6 cards by mistake. what is the ruling on this?

2010-12-30 06:26:44

hi sean,

im very new to this game i only play with a couple of guys who taught me the basics but im really not sure how it really works with the betting, the hand ranking, and the ante/blind could u help me to at least learn the basics?

2010-10-13 20:42:46

“just saying “Ace-high straight” isn’t enough”

Paying attention isn’t for me today. I was thinking “Ace-high flush” when I read that instead of a straight. Sorry! (doesn’t change the answer, just my aside).

2010-10-13 20:37:24

“I have a king of spade, a king of club , a queen of heart , a ten of diamond and ace of heart while my opponent had a king of diamond, a king of heart, a queen of spade, a ten of club and ace of spade. Who should win the pool money?”

You both have a pair of kings with identical remaining cards. The hands are a tie. In most poker games you will split the pot.

“The suits of the cards are used to determine whether a hand forms a flush or straight flush. In most variants, suits do not have an associated value, and play no part in determining the ranking of a hand.”

2010-10-13 20:34:03

“Ace high straight and player two also has a Ace high straight. When you have both players with identical hands, don’t you then go to the suite to break any tie?”

No. If both straights had exactly the same rank cards (just saying “Ace-high straight” isn’t enough), then it would be a tie. Suits are not used for ranking poker hands.

king kassim
2010-10-04 04:54:39

we played 5-card poker, I have a king of spade, a king of club , a queen of heart , a ten of diamond and ace of heart while my opponent had a king of diamond, a king of heart, a queen of spade, a ten of club and ace of spade. Who should win the pool money?

2010-09-15 23:01:09

were playing OCEAN. Ihave Q,j,10, of clubs and a 2,…there is a 9 of spade as verdict. Do i call Q-high or can i use wild as k, and a, of clubs?

2010-08-14 16:39:13

In 5 card draw, player one has an Ace high straight and player two also has a Ace high straight. When you have both players with identical hands, don’t you then go to the suite to break any tie? Example, player one with Ace high straight but has an Ace of spades and player two has an Ace of diamonds. What happens when player one has a Ace high flush in spades and player two has an Ace high flush in diamonds. Doesn’t player one win, since the spade is the higher ranking card?

2010-07-14 03:04:27

If dealing 5 card draw in a home game, and the cards are getting short, how many can be dealt before using the discards?I dont think the bottom card can be used but how about the second and third from the bottom? Thank you

2010-05-25 05:17:17

Hi Sean,

Please help me out here. Example,there’s K,Q,8,6,5 in the table. Now,I have the pair of K and an ace,and the other person has a pair of K and a jack. Should we split the money?

2010-05-17 13:05:13

A question, if 2 or more players are betting against each other, and one player doesn’t have any more money to continue, what happens……who is the winner ?

Sean Lind
2010-04-30 19:00:36



2010-04-30 15:45:30

Sure.. but just a question ….
Once you read can you get it removed 🙂

Sean Lind
2010-04-29 20:41:02


as a rule I don’t post my email in comments, but if you want to post yours I’d be happy to email you.

2010-04-29 15:49:37

Hi Sean,

Can I have youe mail Id?

Sean Lind
2010-04-28 23:45:25


If all players are all in, there is no more betting, but there will be the second round of draws. The players must keep their hands dark, and draw in order, regardless of all betting being finished. After the last player completes the draw, skip straight to the showdown.

2010-04-28 15:34:09

Juts one clarification:

If all Players are all-in in the first round of betting then also do we have the draw and Second round of betting???


2010-04-13 18:26:48

Thanks a ton Sean.
Its been a great help to understand the game 🙂

Sean Lind
2010-04-12 20:54:34


As for who acts first, you got it all correct. First betting round, the small blind always acts first (that’s the dealer Heads up), the rest of the hand it’s always the player to the left of the dealer.

Yes, one player will discard and receive all their new cards before moving on to the next player.

All in’s and side pots function identical to Hold’em.

And if a player “times out” on the draw stage, they will be forced to rap pat. Although I’ve never heard of this happening outside of online poker.

2010-04-12 11:37:37

Hi Sean,
I have another one question. This discard of cards happens one at a time right, I.e first player left to the dealer gets the chance and then the turn moves in clockwise direction?

Are the other rules for creation of side pots, all-in etc are same as in Texas?

If player does not take anction within the specifed time period durtring the Draw then is teh deafult action ‘PAT’ and then game continues for the next round of betting?

Thanks in advance.


2010-04-09 18:42:51

Hi Sean,

Thanks for the iupdates. Another question from me:
Who starts the round in this :

Is it as follows:

For game where more than 2 players are seated:
1. First Round of Betting – Player left to the Big Blind

2. Draw round – Player left to Dealer

3. Second round of Betting – Player left to Dealer

NOW, for Heads up table

1. First Round of betting: Player who is the Dealer is the Small Blind therefore he starts the game here
2. Draw Round: Player left to the Dealer
3. Second round of betting: Player left to the Dealer

I am a little confused for these two scenarios.

Thanks in advance,

Sean Lind
2010-04-08 19:44:14


1. Depends on if you’re playing limit or No-Limit. In a No-Limit (or Pot-Limit game) the min bet is always equal to the big blind.

In a Limit game the first betting round will be the “small” limit, like in hold’em, and the second betting round will use the “big” limit.

These games are often played as a spread-limit game, meaning you can always bet anything between a predetermined min and max bet (from $1-$20 for example).

2. This is why many people will only allow a player to exchange up to 3 cards at a time, that way you won’t run into this problem.

At a real game, you won’t run into the problem either, since if half the table throws away 5 cards, the logical thing to do would be hold on to all five of yours and bluff the table, since no one has a hand.

Either way, if you run out of cards you need to shuffle up the discard muck pile, cut and continue dealing.

2010-04-08 18:02:59

Hi Sean,
How is it going. Hope all well at your end. Thanks for posting the rules here. have been trying to understand this game. have few clarifications :

1. Whats the min bet in the rounds. i..e In Holdem the betting structure for first two rounds is lower stake value and then its the Higher stake value if I am not mistaken.What is the minimum bet in these rounds for Fixed Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit what is the strutcure for the same. Is it similar to Hold’em

2. As stated it says Players can discard all the cards. Now we playing a 6 Player table. So ecah player gets 5 cards. In Total 30 cards have been used. Now if all players want to discard the cards then the deck needs 30 cards however, now it has only 22 cards left(52-30). what haoens in such situation. Its like an exception that we have in seven card.. less cards more players. what is the solution for the same

What happens in the Draw round if I do not take any action. What would be the default.

I will be really grateful to you if you could clear my doubts about the same

Thanks in advance

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