How to Play Five Card Draw

An Old-Fashioned Game of Poker

Men and women playing cards in cabin
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Five card draw is the original way to play the game of poker and one of the easiest. It's the perfect option for a casual poker night and can be played as long as you like. With just a few tips and a review of the basic rules, you and your friends can be playing in a matter of minutes.

What You Need

A game of five card draw requires at least two players, though you can play with up to eight people. You will need a regular deck of cards and a set of poker chips.

You don't need a fancy poker table, either. Your dining room table, a picnic table, or any flat surface that you can all fit around will work just fine.

How to Play a Game of Five Card Draw

Of all the variations of poker you can play, five card draw is among the simplest. There are no special rules or complicated deals to worry about. It is quite simply a good, old-fashioned way to play poker.

Before you begin, review a list of hand rankings. Each player needs to understand what cards go together to create a flush, straight, and so on. The rankings also tell you which hands are the highest ranking so that you know who wins.

  1. Players ante up by placing a small, initial bet in the pot. The pot is typically just a pile of chips placed in the middle of the table.
  2. The dealer deals each player five cards, placing them face down. Begin with the player to the dealer's left and deal one card to each player, going around the table until everyone is holding five cards.
  1. Every player picks up their cards from the table and checks out their hand while not revealing it to other players.
  2. Again, starting with the player to the dealer’s left, players begin placing their bets. Your options are to fold (give up on this hand, losing the chips you placed in the pot), check (pass on this round of betting), call (match another player's bet), or raise (increase the highest bet given so far).
  1. When the betting is done, those who are still in the hand get to trade in one, two, or three cards from their hand for new (and hopefully better) cards. If a player has an ace, he can trade in the other four cards in his hand but it's a common rule that he must show the ace to everyone.
    Note: You don’t have to trade any cards. If you already have a good hand, you’ll want to “stand pat” and keep the cards you were first dealt. 
  2. After everyone receives their new cards, another round of betting takes place, starting to the dealer's left.
  3. After the betting is completed, players show their hands. The best hand wins the pot.

The game continues in this manner. You can change dealers with each hand, moving around the table to the left.

The game is done when all players but one run out of chips or when you simply need to call it a night and head home.