How to Play Five Card Draw Poker

Five Card Draw is one of the biggest poker games on the planet and is popular because of its speed and simplicity.


Many online poker players like to mix up their games so they don’t just focus on one version of this timeless classic. And for those familiar with Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud (read our Seven Card Stud guide here) and Omaha, they will find it easy to get used to Five Card Draw.


Yet you don’t have to be a poker expert to enjoy Five Card Draw and learn how to play quickly and effectively. Indeed, even newcomers to the game can pick it up soon and master the techniques required to turn big profits.


Here at Unibet we’re dedicated to bringing you the best online poker experiences anywhere in the world. That’s why you can play poker wherever and whenever you like, to suit your gaming style.


This guide will take you through the various intricacies of Five Card Draw poker. You will learn the Five Card Draw basic rules, how to win at the game and what techniques you can use against your opponents.


How to play Five Card Draw 

Five Card Draw is not the sort of game you will get in regular casino. It’s a game that became popular in bars and at home, meaning there is a more real feel about Five Card Draw than other, more glamorous, poker games. But Five Card Draw does share plenty of similarities with the more well-known poker games such as Texas Hold’em.


The aim is to either bet on the strength of your cards, or bluff your way through and make your opponents fold, thinking you have a strong hand. You will receive holds cards at the start of the game and get the chance to swap those cards. There are only two rounds of betting in Five Card Draw.


Let’s take you through the rules by playing a simulated game…



You may or may not be required to pay a blind bet at the start. A blind is where a player pays a fee into the pot, in order to give the pot some value. The dealer will pass along the table at the start of each game and five cards are dealt downwards to each player. These are your five hold cards and no-one else can see them.


Example: There are four players in the game. This is a No Blinds game and you are dealt five cards: 8D 8S 4S QC 3C. You have a pair of eights.


First round of betting 

Based on the strength of your five hold cards, you go through a first round of betting with the other players. You can either check if no one else has bet, call to match someone else’s bet, or raise to a level you want to risk. If another player makes a bet, you must at least call that bet or will be forced to fold. You can fold at any time.


Example: The first player makes a $1 bet and the second player calls. You also call, but the fourth player folds. There are now just three players in the game and $3 in the pot.


Change cards 

After the first betting round you have the option to change as many or as few of your cards as you like. You can opt to change none — but you can also change all five. These are also hold cards and no-one else can see them.


Example: The first and second players both change two cards. You change three cards, throwing away 4S QC 3C. In return your hand now looks like this: 8D 8S 8C 3D 9S. You have three of a kind — a strong hand.


Last round of betting 

After the card changes, players will enter a final round of betting. Again, you can either check, call, raise or fold. Be aware some players may go ‘all in’ at this stage, which is where a player bets all their remaining chips on the hand. They could be bluffing, or they could have a very strong hand. Once this round of betting is complete, all remaining players show their hand and the winner is revealed.


Example: The first player bets $3 and the second player folds. You call the first player’s bet, meaning there is now $9 in the pot. You both show your cards. The first player has KC KD JD 7C 5S, meaning they only have a pair. You win on your three-of-a-kind!


Are there limits in Five Card Draw? 

Five Card Draw bet limits all depend on which game you enter. There can be bet limits on some games, so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself in for before heading to a table.


Rather than betting with real money, what will usually happen in online poker is you buy into a table. This gives you access to a certain number of chips, which all players on the table will start with. Rather than leaving the table with your chips at any point in the game, you will be required to beat all other players and win the overall first prize. These are called Sit & Go games.


You can also play Cash Games in the poker suite, where there are either pot limits or no limit. Make sure to read the conditions for these games before entering, and make sure you set a budget that you’re comfortable with.


How strong is my poker hand? 

Many newcomers to poker can slip up by simply not knowing how strong their hand is. Poker is all about knowing whether or not to make a move. Sometimes you can bluff your way to the top but knowing card strengths is still vital.


Here is the order in which cards strengths work, from weak to strong…


Highest Card: This is the weakest hand and not very reliable. You have no combinations in your hand and your hope is that a high card, such as a King or Ace, is better than anyone else’s


Pair: This is also a weak hand, which occurs when you get two cards of the same numerical value. EXAMPLE: 9C, 9D, 7S, 4H, 3S


Two pairs: Two have two sets of pairs in your hand of five cards: EXAMPLE: 9C, 9D, 4S, 4D, KD


Three of a Kind: This is now a middle-strength hand and one you can bet on with more confidence. You have three cards of the same numerical value in your hand. EXAMPLE: 9C, 9D, 9S, KD, QC


Straight: Five of the seven cards available to you run in numerical order, from low to high. EXAMPLE: 7C, 8S, 9S, 10D, JC


Flush: All five of your cards are in the same suit. EXAMPLE: 4H, 5H, 9H, QH, AH


Full House: You have both a Pair and a Three of a Kind. EXAMPLE: 7S, 7H, 9C, 9S, 9D


Four of a Kind: All four cards of the same numerical value are in your hand. EXAMPLE: KH, KD, KS, KC, 6S


Straight Flush: This is when all five of your cards are in a straight AND a flush. EXAMPLE: 9C, 10C, JC, QC, KC


Royal Flush: The best card you can have in poker but also the rarest, so don’t bank on getting this. Some of the world’s best players will go a career without landing a straight flush. This is when the flush runs from 10 to Ace in the same suit. EXAMPLE: 10C, JC, QC, KC, AC


Five Card Draw poker techniques 

Because there are only two rounds of betting in Five Card Draw poker, it’s worth knowing from that first hand what you’re going to do. Be aware of the other players and how they fold. If they fold regularly from the first draw then they may not be in the bluffing mood — and that means they could have a really strong hand when they do decide to bet.


Likewise, make sure you don’t fall into any patterns yourself. Regularity is tough to avoid when starting out in poker but it’s the best technique to throw opponents off your game. If you become predictable — such as calling small bets all the time without raising or placing initial bets yourself — then other players will notice that.


The problem with being predictable is you risk losing out when you strike a good hand. For example, if you fold or call the opening 15 hands of a Five Card Draw game, and then suddenly make a big bet, it is a giveaway that you probably have a strong hand. That is a wasted opportunity to draw someone else into the betting and beat them on the strength of your hand at the end.

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