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Five Card Draw – Basic Strategy and Guide
If you’ve ever seen one those old black and white westerns where they are playing poker in a rowdy, spit and sawdust bar, then you’ve probably already caught a glimpse of 5 Card Draw – one of the oldest poker games of them all. Five Card Draw – The Game 

This beginners guide should give you a basic idea for the concepts and basic strategy to one of the oldest formats of poker. Because it is old, does not mean that 5 Card Draw is without merit and indeed, there are many online rooms that have now added this classic game to their lobby of tournamnets and cash games. If you wish to try out 5 Card Draw online, i would recommend a site such as PokerStars as one of the best places to start.

The Rules Are Simple
Much like Holdem, we have the dealer button followed by a small blind (SB) and a big blind (BB). In tournaments or Sit and Go’s, the game is usually played at Limit or Pot-Limit stakes with an ascending blind structure, often including an ante (eg. often a tournament may begin with the SB = 5, BB = 10 with an ante for all players of 1). Each player is dealt five cards face down. After looking at your hole cards, there is one round of betting started by the player to the left of the big blind. Once the betting round is complete, we enter the draw phase where players can exchange from 0 to 5 cards (sometimes 0 to 4) with the dealer. This round, as with all the rounds, commences with the player to the left of the big blind. After the draw has been made, there is a final round of betting culminating in a showdown or won pot should all but one player fold.Note : In a live cash game, there is usually no SB or BB but a fixed ante for all players involved prior to the cards being dealt. In this case, betting will always commence with the player to the dealers left.

Pre-Draw Playable Hands – Basic Rule Of Thumb
Firstly, it’s very important to remember that the Big Blind (BB) in 5 Card Draw will always be the last to act in both betting rounds, pre-draw and post-draw. With this in mind :-When first to act, it is wise to only consider a minimum of premium pairs (Queens upward) or better as playable hands. 10’s and Jacks are also acceptable from a middle to late position. In terms of single pairs, flat calling with anything but Aces or Kings is the smart move but a more aggressive approach can be taken from the button (last to act) as you will often have a great possibility to take down the pot there and then with a raise (not just 2 times the BB of course).As for small to medium pairs, only play these from the SB or BB (typically a call or check). Many players will often play these out of position looking for trips but with players to come behind you and facing potential raises, these hands are better discarded. Again these hands don’t really give you the odds to make them playable.Flush and Straight draws are rarely worth chasing from an early or middle position (except perhaps in the early rounds where limping would be acceptable). You simply won’t have the odds to justify these hands; eg. 4.2 to 1 for your flush. In a late position and if first to act, these can be good raising hands as a semi-bluff or a limp is acceptable when having one or more aggressive players still to come behind you. It is usually sensible to fold these kind of hands to a raise unless you have both the flush and straight draw. Steer well clear of inside straight draws as these will rarely pay.

The Draw
Usually, what you should discard will be a simple enough decision. Some players will often keep a big kicker with a pair, but as it’s rare in 5 Card Draw for the kicker to be relevant (for a split pot), it is far better to discard 3 and give yourself a better chance to hit trips.

Pay Attention To How Many Cards Other Players Take
This is your best chance to assess the strength or weakness of your opponents hands :

Player takes no cards
Player takes one card
Player takes two cards
Player takes three cards
Player takes four cards
They have a made hand or will sometimes be preparing to bluff (feels great when this comes off) if isolated with one other player.If they have not raised pre-draw, they will usually be looking for a straight or flush. If they have raised pre-draw, most likely they already have at least 2 pair.They probably have trips or the BB (no raises pre-draw) looking to get lucky. Some less experienced players may hold a pair with a high kicker.They probably have at least a pair or once again, it could be the BB (no raises pre-draw) looking to get lucky.This should only be the BB when allowed in cheap.

Post Draw Play
You should have a decent idea of what your opponents are holding by this stage. Check, bet, raise or call depending on a combination of your made hand, position and the size of the pot. 5 Card Draw is almost the ultimate bluff game so be sure that you only make worthwhile value calls when you feel you are probably behind.

As with any basic guide, it’s important to remember that you should vary your game and not allow yourself to be pigeon holed by continually using the same tactics. Certain subtleties of the game will become apparent with a little experience and knowledge and i would recommend the excellent section about 5 Card Draw in Doyle Brunson’s Super System as a must read to help your advancement in the game. This piece was written by Mike Caro, one of the true experts of this format.

The Five Card Draw – Basic Strategy and Guide was written by Marc “harry_lime” Alexander.

An Example of Playing Five Card Draw Online
Note : I am seated bottom central of the table.

Picture 1
Before any cards are dealt, each player at the table automatically pays an “ante” from their chip stack, as seen here in Picture 1.




Picture 2
Once these “antes” have been paid, each player recieves 5 cards (as seen in Picture 2)and then the first round of betting commences with the player to the left of the dealer (in this case, me) going first with the option to bet or check. The betting follows standard procedure around the table until all bets are complete.




select your cardsPicture 3
After the pre-draw betting, each player still in will be allowed to exchange 1 to 5 cards once only. To select a card to exchange, left click with your mouse on the card you wish to exchange and it will rise above your other cards as seen in Picture 3. Do not try to drag the cards with the mouse, just one left click should do the job. Click on each card you wish to exchange and when it is your turn, hit the “Discard” button also shown in Picture 3. Players exchange their cards in the same order as the betting for that hand. It is possible to select your cards for exchange whilst the pre-draw betting is going on. This is a good idea as it is easy to run out of time if you leave your selection too late.


Picture 4
Once the cards have been exchanged, the last round of betting commences (Picture 4), with the player to the left of the dealer button commencing. The best standard poker hand wins and there are no low hands for split.


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