5-Card Draw Poker Online Guide

History of 5-Card Draw:

The exact origins of 5 card draw poker are unclear. The game bears some types of resemblance to games found in England, Ireland, France, and even as far back as ancient Persia. However, it is generally agreed that the game was spread to New Orleans, in the USA, via European sailors during the 1800’s. This game only used a 20-card deck and there was a single betting round. During the US ‘gold rush’ and Civil War of the mid 1800’s, the game spread further across the country, eventually becoming the most popular home card game.

Rules of 5-Card Draw:

  1. After each player makes their bet, or ante (or the two blinds are placed), 5 cards are dealt to each player, face down.

  2. The first betting round ensues, beginning with the player to the left of the dealer (or the first player to the left of the blinds). A player may check to stay in the hand for free, but must either bet or fold if anyone else decides to bet.

  3. The draw begins (again from the left of the dealer or blinds), with each player choosing to throw away and replace any number of their cards. In some variations of draw poker online, each player may only replace up to 3 or 4 cards.

  4. Once all the replacement cards have been dealt, another betting round ensues.

  5. Any remaining players at the conclusion of the second betting round go on to the showdown and must show their hands.

  6. A winner is declared, based on the hand rankings of standard poker.


Internet draw poker is a fairly basic game, but you should still understand the strategy behind it. Your first strategic consideration is whether to play tight or loosely. This should be determined by the size of the ante or blinds in relation to the betting limits. If the ante is 50% or more of the maximum bet, then you should play a little more loosely, because the size of the pots will be larger. Conversely, with smaller antes, play more conservatively.

In this game, straights, flushes and full houses are not very common, although if you see a player draw only one card they is a good chance they are attempting to make just such a hand. A good ploy you may want to consider every once in a while is to raise before the draw, not take any cards, and then raise again after the draw. Of course, the key to this is not having your opponents know this is a ploy!

Perhaps the most important strategic consideration is your position. It is much easier to take down pots when you are the last to bet, called last (or latest) position. You have more information, and can scare away earlier players who were hoping to see one more round either for free or cheaply. If you have a strong hand after the draw, even in early position, you should bet to try and take down the pot right there. With a great hand, you can even consider slow playing (calling in the early round, then raising and re-raising in the later round).

Strong Hands:

The strength of hands which you need in order to stay in the game of online 5-card draw poker is mainly determined by your betting position. When you are first to act, you should have a pair of kings or better (and dump the ace kicker in favor of drawing an extra card). If you are in second position, you need a pair of jacks or better. If you are even thinking of raising or re-raising here, hold Queens or Kings (pairs), respectively.

If you are on the button, or in later position, you do not need quite as strong a hand to open. While on the button, open with nines or better if no one has called, and raise with Kings or better, even with two others limping in ahead of you. If you are on the small blind, and the hand has been folded around to you, call with almost anything to try and steal the pot. If you are called, consider keeping three cards, making your opponent think you have three of a kind, then bet strong after the draw. This is a great place to run a mini-bluff. If you are on the big blind, with only one other player left, call. If that other player just limped in, raise and then even re-raise with a pair of tens or better.

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