Back when poker was a game for cowboys and hustlers, Five Card Draw was the game of choice. Seen as a pre-cursor to the now popular Texas Hold’em, Draw poker is the game you’ll commonly see played in old USA western films. Indeed, when Wild Bill Hickok was shot and his legacy created the infamous “dead man’s hand”, he was reportedly playing five card draw.
The Basics of Draw Poker
Although Draw poker has fallen out of favor with many modern players, the mechanics of the game are still useful for your overall development as a poker player in the United States. To give you a better idea of the game’s mechanics, let’s take a look at one particular style of draw poker, five card draw, and run through its main concepts:
Unlike Texas Hold’em or Pot Limit Omaha, Five Card Draw poker doesn’t involve any community cards and the action takes place over two rounds: before the draw and after the draw.
Each player starts off with five hole cards and if they like their hand then must wager the minimum bet (which will equal the table stakes) before proceeding with the second phase of the hand: the draw.
During this part of the game the player can exchange as few or as many cards as they like. One point to note is that it’s crucial during this stage of the game to watch everyone else to see how many cards they exchange. The reason for this is because the more cards they take the less likely they are to have a good hand.
Once the draw has been completed, the betting resumes with the player closest to the blinds acting first. At this point everyone left in the hand has the option of folding, calling or raising. This dynamic continues until everyone has either folded or matched the final bet.
A showdown then occurs and whichever player has the strongest hand, according to a standard (see sidebar) poker hand ranking chart, wins the pot.
Five Things You Need to Know About Draw Poker
- There are now hole cards like other popular forms of poker such as Texas Hold’em.
- Draw is commonly played as a limit games but can also be pot limit of no limit.
- After the initial deal it’s possible to exchange all, some or none of the cards.
- The blinds and button move in the same way as Texas Hold’em.
- The amount of cards a player exchanges will often signal the strength of their hand.
Other Forms of Draw
Like an artist with a full palette, there are many ways to play Draw poker. Although we’ve focused on the five-card variety, it’s also possible to enjoy the following forms of Draw poker in the US:
Seven Card Draw – This game is essentially the same as Five Card Draw, the only difference being that each player is dealt seven cards.
2-7 Triple Draw – This game basically awards the pot to the player with the best low hand. Often suffixed with the noun “lowball”, this variant sees each player dealt five cards. After the first deal they have the chance to discard any cards in their hand in exchange for new cards. This happens three times before the final showdown. At this point the player with the lowest ranking hand – the best is 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 – will win the pot. To determine the best hand you simply look at a player’s highest and work backwards from that point.
2-7 Single Draw – This is exactly the same game as above, but instead of there being three betting rounds the players are limited to one exchange.
Badugi – One of the more popular modern forms of Draw poker, Badugi originates from Asia and is a lowball style of poker. In a nutshell this game has the following conditions:
The object of Badugi is to make a four-card low hand of all different suits – flushes and pairs count against your hand. However, straights do not count against your hand. Finally, an Ace is always considered a low card.
The best possible hand in this game (known as Badugi) is as follows: 4d-3h-2s-Ac.
Enjoy 5 card draw and other types of draw poker at some of the top Internet poker sites that welcome online US poker players.
Big Winners in the History of Draw Poker
Although Draw poker is seldom played for high stakes, the WSOP in America still hosts an annual $10,000 championship event. Over the years this event has played host to some of the game’s finest players, including Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese and Stu Ungar.
In recent years the WSOP has used 2-7 Triple Draw as the basis for its championship event and in 2014 the title and $355,324 went to Tuan Le.
Draw Poker’s Resurgence:
Thanks to a move towards high stakes mixed games, many of the poker world’s younger players have begun to embrace Draw poker. Because Five Card Draw and 2-7 Triple Draw both form part of the Mixed Game circuit, it’s been necessary for Hold’em and Omaha experts to diversify their skill sets.
This requirement has led to many young players in the US dabbling in a range of Draw variants; most notable, 2-7 Triple Draw. Because this variant has a lot of scope for bluffing, many young players have carved out a niche for themselves and can regularly be seen playing for super high stakes online when there’s an absence of Hold’em and Omaha games.
Although Draw poker is still very much a niche game in the industry, you can still find a host of games running at many of our top US poker sites.