Draw poker games are the games where I’m sure most of us learned the basics of poker. For me at least it was 5-card draw.

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All draw games will have the same idea behind them. You are allowed to discard cards that you don’t want and exchange them for new ones. This brings a new element into your strategy as you can use the number of cards your opponent discards and the stage they discard them at to get an idea as to the strength of his or her hand.

But before we get ahead of ourselves with draw poker strategy, it might be a good idea to learn how to play these games first, huh? So below, I’m going to cover the rules of 5-card draw. Then below that, I’ll outline the betting that draw games use and the most popular draw poker variations that you’ll find online.

5-Card Draw Rules

The Deal & First Betting Round

5-card draw is played with blinds in order to create some action. These are forced bets made by the first two players to the left of the dealer button. The small blind, who is to the immediate left of the dealer button, generally posts a blind half that of the big blind. The big blind will post whatever the big bet is at the table. So for example, in a $5/$10 game, the small blind would post $5 and the big blind would post $10.

Once the blinds are posted, each player is dealt 5 cards faced down.

After the cards have been dealt, the first betting round will begin. It’ll start with the player who is to the left of the big blind, known as the player under the gun or UTG. This player, and every player left to act, will have the option to fold, call or raise.

** How much a player can bet or raise will depend on the betting format being used. I’ll go into more detail on this below.

Action will continue like this until every player has acted.

The Draw

If there are still players remaining in the hand, then the drawing round will begin. Each player will have the option to draw for new cards.

The first player to draw for new cards is the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button. This player will have the option to discard and draw as many cards as he or she would like. This player can also “stand pat,” which is a fancy way of saying that they don’t need to draw for new cards.

This will continue clockwise around the table until each player has had the option to discard/redraw for new cards.

2nd Betting Round

Once the drawing round is finished, the final betting round will begin.

The action will begin with the first remaining player to the left of the dealer button and continue clockwise around the table. Each player will have the option to check, bet, call, raise or fold.

Showdown

If 2 or more players are remaining after the 2nd betting round, then there will be a showdown. This is where the players will flip over their hands to determine the winner. The player to flip over his or her hand first will be determined by who made the last raise. In case it was checked around, the first player to the left of the dealer will be the first to show their hand.

Action will continue like this around the table until each player has mucked or shown their hand.

Once the winner has been determined, the pot will be awarded, cards reshuffled, blinds reposted and a new hand dealt.

Draw Poker Betting

You can find draw poker games in all the betting formats, although fixed limit betting is the most common one. Below is a brief description of each form of betting.

No Limit: No limit betting means that a player can wager any amount that they’d like at any time, as long as they meet the minimum.

Pot Limit: The only restriction in pot limit betting is that the maximum bet cannot exceed what is in the pot. As the pot size increases, so does the maximum amount that can be betted.

Fixed Limit: Fixed limit betting restricts players to only betting the amount of the small or big bet depending on what round.

The betting is also capped at one bet and 3 raises per round.

Draw Poker Variations

There are several different draw poker variations out there. Here are the three most popular ones.

2-7 Single and Triple Draw: In 2-7 Draw, the object is to make the best 5-card hand containing the cards 2 through 7. Players will draw once or 3 times depending on the variation they’re playing.

Badugi: Badugi is another draw poker game that has increased in popularity over the last couple of years. The objective in Badugi is to make the best low card hand, with each card being a different suit. The best hand would be an A-2-3-4 rainbow.

You can find more draw poker variations at Wikipedia.

Play Draw Poker Games

Draw poker games are entertaining to play. After all, who doesn’t like to get rid of bad hole cards in exchange for better ones? I know I do.

If you’re interested in playing draw poker games, be sure to use our list above to pick the best site to play at. A majority of the larger sites that offer draw poker will have games running semi-regularly.