5-Card Draw rules

Five-Card Draw is a form of poker most popularized by Hollywood films like The Sting and Maverick. In the beginning of The Sting, Paul Newman's character played high-stakes Five-Card Draw.

Introduction to 5-Card Draw

In the late 1800s, Five-Card Draw was a popular game in the American West, often played in saloons and other places of ill repute. As legend goes, Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back while playing Five-Card Draw. At the moment of his assignation, Wild Bill was holding A-A-8-8 for two pair – Aces and Eights – which is often known as the “Dead Man's Hand.”

In modern-day America, Five Card Draw is often referred to as “old man's poker” because it is a game frequented by World War II veterans. Do not be fooled by its nickname, because Five-Card Draw is one of the most exciting versions of live poker. Unable to see any of your opponents' cards or utilize community cards, you have very little to no information on your opponent. This is why Five-Card Draw is considered a huge bluffing game.

Some versions of Five-Card Draw require a player to have a Pair of Jacks or higher in order to start the betting. That game is often referred to as Five-Card Draw Jacks or Better.

How to play 5-Card Draw?

This sample hand is fixed-limit Five-Card Draw with $2/$4 betting limits. The blinds are $1/$2.

There is a dealer button used in this game that moves clockwise. The blinds are to the immediate left of the button.

There are two rounds of betting and only one round to draw cards. The first round of betting occurs after the initial five cards are dealt. After players have drawn cards, the second and final round of betting occurs.


DEAL: Five cards are dealt to each player.


YOUR HAND: You have two pair – eights and fives – with a deuce kicker.


Carte privée 5 de cœur Carte privée 5 de carreau Carte privée 8 de cœur Carte privée 8 de pique Carte privée 2 de cœur

Your hand

1st betting round

The initial bet is $2. The player to the immediate left of the big blind, aka Under the Gun, is the first to act and has the option to call $2, raise to $4, or fold. If a player is facing a raise, they must call, fold, or re-raise. The big blind is last to act.

If the pot has not been raised and other opponents have only called the $2 big blind, the big blind has the option to check or raise to $4. If the big blind checks, the betting round is over and the players move on to the draw. If the big blind raises, betting continues until the action makes its way back around the table. If a raise goes uncalled, the raiser wins the pot without revealing their hole cards.

Once all remaining bets and raises have been called, it is time for players to draw cards.


DRAW: Players may discard zero to five cards. If players do not draw any, they “stand pat.”


YOUR HAND: You discard the lowest card, the deuce of hearts, and draw one. You improve to two pair – eights and fives – with an Ace kicker.


Carte privée 5 de cœur Carte privée 5 de carreau Carte privée 8 de cœur Carte privée 8 de pique Carte privée As de pique

Your new hand

Final betting round

The bet is $4. Action begins to the left of the button. The first to act has the option to check or bet $4. If a bet is made, players must call, fold, or raise. If no one calls a bet or raise, the bettor wins the pot without revealing their hole cards.

Once all remaining bets and raises have been called, it is time for players to table their cards.

Dealing note

If there are not enough cards during the drawing round, the dealer will shuffle all of the discards and draw from the new pile.

Strategy tip

You generally want to play tight in this game with premium starting hands (like a middle pair or better) unless you have a very big drawing hand.

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