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5 Card Draw Poker

: Game Rules & Strategy
Object: The object of 5 Card Draw is to have the highest five-card poker hand at showdown, or to be the only player remaining in the hand after all other players have folded.

Hand Rankings: Hand rankings are as follows, with the highest hands first:

Hand Ranking Description Example
Royal Flush 5 suited cards in sequence, topped with the ace. For example, a Royal Flush in Spades. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Straight Flush 5 suited cards in sequence. For example, an Eight-high Straight Flush in Diamonds. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Four of a kind 4 cards of the same rank. For example, four Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Full house 3 cards of the same rank, plus 2 cards of the same rank. For example, a full house with 3 aces and 2 fives is a Full House, Aces full of Fives. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Flush 5 cards of the same suit, not all of which are in sequence. For example, a King-high Diamond Flush. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Straight 5 cards in sequence, not all of which are the same suit. For example, a Ten-high Straight. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Three of a kind 3 cards of the same rank. For example, three Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
Two pair 2 different occurrences of 2 cards of the same rank. For example, Two Pair -- Jacks and Nines. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
One Pair 2 cards of the same rank. For example, a pair of Queens. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card
High Card Cards all of which are different ranks and are not all the same suit. For example, Ace High. a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card a playing card

If two or more hands are the same ranking, the winner is the one having the higher cards. For example, a Flush with an Ace high beats a Flush with a King high. If the poker hands remain tied, then the highest card not being held in common (the kicker) determines the winner.

Should poker hands be absolutely identical in ranking, the pot will be split evenly between the two or more winning players. If there is an odd chip, then either the winning player to the left of the button will receive it, or the odd chip will remain in the pot for the next hand (depending on the card room).

The Play of the Game: The play of the game proceeds as follows:

  1. Each player is dealt five cards face-down
  2. First betting round
  3. Each player may discard and draw from 0 to 5 cards
  4. Final betting round
  5. Showdown

Betting Structure and Rules

There are two possible betting rounds in a complete game of 5 Card Draw. Each bet and raise during the first round of betting is set at the lower limit of the stakes structure. For example in a $4/$8 game, all bets and raises are $4 for the first round. After the first betting round each player may discard and draw from zero to five cards.

Each bet and raise during the final round of betting is set at the higher limit of the stakes structure. For example in a $4/$8 game, all bets and raises are $8 for the last round.

The maximum allowable number of bets per player during any particular betting round is four. This would consist of (1) a bet, (2) a raise, (3) a re-raise, and (4) a cap. The term cap is used to describe the 3rd raise in a round since betting is then capped and can not be raised anymore. Once the pot is capped, players will have only the option of calling or folding.

Check-raising is (usually) allowed.

Button and Blinds

A flat disk is used at the poker table; this is called the dealer button to indicate the theoretical dealer of each hand.

After each hand has completed, the button moves clockwise to the next active player. This player will be considered to be playing "the button" for that hand. The player to the left of the button is first to receive a card and is required to post a small blind. The small blind is equal to half the lower limit bet rounded down to the nearest dollar. The player to the left of the small blind is required to post the big blind, equal to the lower limit bet. 

Both blinds are considered live bets and therefore, according to poker rules, have the option of checking, calling, raising or folding when the betting action returns to their position. After the draw, the first active player left of the button is first to act.

When a player first sits at an active table they'll be required to post the equivalent of the big blind. Players have the option of sitting out and waiting for the actual big blind before starting to play in the game. By preventing players from constantly entering poker games in late position and leaving before they're required to post, these rules stop potential abuse.

Strategy

Here are some basic tips.

  • Know at least some of the odds of making your draws. For example, the odds of drawing the 5th card to your 4-card straight is approximately either 7 to 1 (if you can make either end of the 4-card straight) or 11 to 1 (if there is only one card that fills your straight).
  • Only play at stakes that you are comfortable playing.
  • Don't chase hands. If you consistently call three bets with a pair of 4s before the draw, you're going to lose in the long run.

Read, read, read! Then practice, practice, practice! Then, win, win win! :)

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