Beginners Guide To 5-Card Draw
5-Card draw poker elicits images of western movies - but is now available online! In this form of poker all cards are dealt completely unseen by your opponents. This makes 5-card draw a game of reading your opponents tendencies as well as knowing the poker hand odds. 5-Card draw poker can be played with fixed limit, pot limit or even no-limit betting structures.
At the start of each hand each player is dealt 5 cards. Blinds are posted in the same way as Holdem poker and the next player after the big-blind starts the betting. Players then discard any number of their cards which are replaced with those cards not yet dealt. Players may also choose not to discard any cards - this is known as 'Standing Pat'. The small blind then starts the final betting round (or next player to the small blind's left if some players have folded).
The starting hands you can play in 5-card draw depend on your opponents. At a loose table it may be possible to draw 3 cards after playing a medium to high pair - at a tight one you should stick with higher pairs or better. Flush and straight draws are playable only from late position in 5-card draw, they may be profitable hands for a small bet pre-draw - however playing them from early position carries a greater risk of a re-raise before the draw making them expensive, especially in pot limit or no-limit betting.
Two pair hands usually playable before the draw, but not for large bets unless they include a premium pair. The danger with 2-small pair hands is that they will be outdrawn by an opponent. Trips are a strong pre-draw hand, how you play these while drawing will again depend on your opponents.
If you are fortunate enough to be dealt a pat-hand before the draw, for example a flush or full house, then it is important to build the pot as quickly as possible. Not drawing any cards or 'standing-pat' will usually kill any heavy betting action after the draw - so it is important to get as much in the pot as possible before you give your opponents information on the strength of your hand.
Position is important in 5-card draw poker, being the last player to draw new cards will allow you to see how many cards each of your opponents draw before you act. Being in last position also allows you to combine the number of cards drawn by opponents with their final round betting - giving you an advantage in making your decision to call, raise or fold.
Drawing 3 cards lets your opponents know you have a pair, some players will deliberately draw 2 cards with a pair to deceive opponents. In this case they will keep the highest of their unpaired cards (particularly if this is an ace). Watch your opponents, a call pre-draw followed by drawing 2 cards is more likely to be a pair, while a raise may be more likely to indicate trips.
An opponent drawing 1 card could have 2-pairs or a draw to a flush or straight. Once again you need to combine the betting pre-draw with the cards drawn specifically for that opponent. Most opponents will not call a large raise with a drawing hand - making 2 pairs more likely. A player in the blinds who did not raise and then drew 1 card is likely to be taking a 'free-shot' at a hand like a gut shot straight.
If you hold trips, especially high trips such as A-A-A it can be a deceptive move to draw 1 card only. This telegraphs a 2-pair hand to your opponents when combined with your pre-draw raise and is more likely to be paid off by 2-pair hands after the draw.
On the final betting round you assess the likely hands of opponents based on their pre-draw betting, number of cards drawn and post-draw betting. The key to this game is to note the specific patterns of each opponent. Some players will check and call a bet with 2 pair type hands while others will bet strongly. If you see a bet and a call or raise of that bet then you need to fold all but the strongest holdings - 5-card draw is not the place for weak hands after the draw.
Good luck at the tables!
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