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Home » online casinos » poker sites » 5 card poker rules
Peter Addison
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5-card poker, or 5-card draw poker is really where it all began. Draw poker is thought to be the oldest form of poker, and it is this basic form of poker from which variants such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Stud have been derived. This page will explain to you 5-card poker rules to enable you to play.

If you are new to poker we advise you to play 5-card poker before you go on to learning how to play poker variants listed above, as they are more involved. While 5-card draw is still a complicated beast to master, it’s a simpler form of poker that will get you accustomed to the ins and outs of poker before you sample other games.

This page will explain how to play 5-card draw, outlining how does 5-card poker work, and all possible 5-card poker hands.

5-Card Draw Hands

Like all forms of poker, the aim of 5-card draw is to have the best hand and win all the money (the ‘pot’) wagered by your opponents. This is not a trick-taking game as many other card games are. At the end of each deal, the player with the best hand (or the only player remaining in the deal if all others have folded) is the winner and takes the pot.

Understanding the hand rankings is crucial when you are learning how to play 5-card poker, and we present them to you below in best-to-worst order:

poker hand ranking

5-Card Poker Hands Order

  1. Royal Flush – AKQJT of the same suit
  2. Straight Flush – five cards of the same suit in sequence
  3. Four of Kind – four cards of the same rank, one spare
  4. Full House – three of a kind and a pair
  5. Flush – five cards of the same suit but not in sequence
  6. Straight – five cards of different suits but in sequence
  7. Three of a Kind – three cards of the same rank, two spares
  8. Two Pairs – two pairs, one spare
  9. Pair – one pair, three spares
  10. High Card – a hand that is none of the above, ranked by its highest card


Tied hands are practically impossible in poker. For example, if two players have a straight, it’s the straight with the highest card that wins (JT987 beats 98765). If two players have a pair of queens, then the hand with the next highest card wins (QQJ87 beats QQ963). In the case where a spare card splits two hands, that spare card is known as a ‘kicker’. If the kickers are identical, then the next highest spare card becomes the kicker (QQJ87 beats QQJ52), and so on.

Suits have no value in poker unlike, say, Contract Bridge where spades are more valuable than hearts. If two players have identical flushes in different suits, then that’s a tie and the pot is shared.

5-Card Draw Basics

Here we begin our beginner’s guide to 5-card draw. Play begins with a player dealing the cards. In casual games, the role of the dealer rotates around the table (house rules may dictate how to deal 5-card poker). At online poker rooms (and in competitive play) the position of the dealer is marked by a ‘button’, and a non-playing dealer deals the cards each round.

5-Card Poker Rules – the deal

Each player receives five cards. The first player to play can either fold or bet. If they fold they discard their cards and take no further part in the hand. If they bet they select the amount of chips that represents their bet and place them on the table in front of their cards.

Once a bet has been made, players have the chance to call or raise. If they call, they make a bet that matches the current highest bet. If they raise, they match the bet then increase that bet with a bet of their own. All subsequent players must match the current highest bet on the table to remain in the hand.

This betting round ends once all players have called or folded on the latest betting round.

5-Card Poker Rules – the draw

All remaining players now have the chance to improve their hand by discarding any number (from none to all five) of cards from their hands. They then ask for the same number of cards from the dealer so that their hand is replenished to five.

Another betting round then takes place. If all bar one player folds, then the last remaining player takes the pot. He does not have to show his cards, but he can do if he so wishes.

5 card poker 1

If all the players at the table have called and there have been no further raises, then there is a showdown. All remaining players must show their cards, and the player with the best hand takes the pot.

The cards are then gathered in, shuffled, and a new deal begins with the dealer responsibilities being passed to the player on the previous dealer’s left.

5-Card Poker Rules – ante & blinds

In some versions of draw. Players must pay a small fee before the deal in order to take part in the hand. This is so the pot always has some value, and this fee is known as the ‘ante’. If it’s an ante, then all players must pay this small fee.

Poker Fact #1 – ‘Ante’

The word ‘ante’ is a strange one in poker, especially as poker is an American invention and ‘ante’ does not sound like a very American word. Would you believe ‘ante’ has a Proto-Indo-European derivation meaning ‘front’ or ‘forehead’ ? So, ante means something you do ‘in front of’ something else, hence a bet made before the deal in poker.

Another version of ante is called blinds. Here, only the two players to the left of the dealer have to pay an ante. The player immediately to the left of the dealer is called the ‘small blind’ and the player to their left is called the ‘big blind’. The fee or ante for the big blind is twice the fee or ante for the small blind. Most online versions of 5-card draw have blinds as opposed to antes.

Versions of 5-Card Poker

There are a few different versions of 5-Card poker. Indeed, there are many dozens, but we have outlined the most popular ones found online:

Fixed Limit

With this version, bets can only be placed up to a maximum limit. Usually, it is four monetary amounts or big blinds per betting round. If the blind value is $1, then the fixed limit would be $8 ($1 > $2 > $4 > $8).

Pot Limit

Here, no raise can be higher than the current value of the pot. Therefore, it the pot is $4, a player can only raise to $8. The next player to act can raise to $16, and so on.

No Limit

With no limit (NL) 5-card poker, there are no limitations on bet sizes. A player is able to bet their entire chip stack (go ‘all in’) if they so wish.


A version of 5-card poker where the worst hand, as opposed to the best hand takes the pot.

Wild 5-Card Draw

Poker with wild cards. They could be jokers added to the pack, or the declaration that all deuces (twos) are wild. A wild card can be used as any other card to improve the value of a hand. Wild 5-Card draw has the addition hand five of a kind.

5-Card Draw Poker vs Other Variants

So how does 5-Card poker differ from other variants? Well, that’s a question we are about to answer for you!

5-Card Poker vs Texas Hold’em

Hold’em relies upon community cards, and players cannot draw new cards to improve their hand. At the start of the game, each player is dealt only two ‘hole’ cards. For the next round three cards are dealt face up in the centre of the table (the ‘flop’). There are two more rounds in which a single card is added to the community cards (the ‘turn’ and the ‘river’). Between each round there is a round of betting.

Players make their best hand using their hole cards and the five community cards.

5 card poker 2

5-Card Poker vs Omaha (Hi)

Omaha is similar to Hold’em except that each player is dealt four hole cards. The community cards are dealt as per Hold’em, with a round of betting after each addition.

Players make their best hand from exactly two of their hole cards, and exactly three community cards. In Omaha Hi/Lo the pot is shared between the player with the best hand, and the player with the worst hand (can be the same player).

5-Card Stud vs Draw

Stud poker is a form of draw poker in which some cards of each player’s hand are dealt face up. Betting and play is practically the same, although there can differences depending on whatever rules are adopted.

The most popular form of stud poker online is 7-card stud. Here, each player is dealt two cards face down, then – one at a time with a round of betting – four cards dealt face up, followed by a final card face down. Players then make their best hand from the seven they have been dealt.

5-Card Poker vs 3-Card Poker

3-Card Poker (called ‘brag’ in the UK) is not played online as player-vs-player game. Online you are usually playing against a dealer either at a live casino, or via computer software.

It’s a simplified version of poker with the hand ranks Straight Flush > 3 of a Kind > Straight > Flush > Pair > High Card. There’s only usually a single betting round, and no draw.

Poker Fact #2 – ‘Full House’

So, why is three-of-kind and a pair in poker known as a ‘full house’ ? Well, no one really knows. The best guess is that the pair represents parents, and the three-of-a-kind represents children, therefore if you are a couple living with three children, you have a full house! It may be also unlike most other hands, a full house uses all five cards, but no one is one hundred percent sure. A full house also means an event where all tickets have been sold.

5-Card Draw Strategy

5-Card draw is not as complex a game as Hold’em or Omaha but you still need to know how to win at 5-card draw if you want to be successful when playing. Here are a few pointers that should get you moving in the right direction.

When to Play and What to Discard

The key to 5-card draw is really to understand when you have been dealt a good hand, and how many cards to draw. In reality, the only good hands to be dealt in draw are high pairs (TT+) and flush/straight draws. It pays to play tight, or a little looser when in a good position. Also, playing flush/straight draws is only advisable if you haven’t been raised.

The issue with pairs is that if you draw three, you are broadcasting that you have a pair, so you may want to bluff a little and draw two, particularly if the players in front of you have either folded or drawn three, and if the card you keep is AKQJ or T. If you have a flush/straight draw then you have no option but to draw one.

It’s important to remember that if you don’t make your draw only bluff if you’re in a good position. If players have raised ahead of you, the best poker strategy is to fold.

Hand Probabilities

This table outlines the probability of being dealt or drawing each possible hand type in 5-card draw.

Hand Probability
Royal Flush >0.001%
Straight Flush >0.002%
Four of a Kind 0.02%
Full House 0.14%
Flush 0.2%
Straight 0.39%
Three of a Kind 2.11%
Two Pair 4.75%
One Pair 42.3%
High Card 50.1%

Where to Play 5-Card Draw Poker Online

In the UK, you are limited as to where you can play 5-card draw poker online, purely because it is not as popular as Texas Hold’em or Omaha. We have reviewed all poker rooms in the UK and can confirm that only PartyPoker has 5-card draw poker online.


How is 5-card poker different from Texas Hold’em?

How many hands in 5-card poker?

What beats a straight in 5-card poker?

How many rounds are there in 5-card poker?



Peter Addison

A vastly experienced sports betting specialist, Peter joined SafeBettingSites in 2021 as a sports editor. Peter has been focusing on the iGaming realm since 2013, and had written millions of words on all aspects of online casino play and sports betting since then. His articles have been featured in numerous high-profile online publications. When not writing, Peter can be found playing his electric guitar. He is such a talented guitarist that his next-door neighbours often join in, adding percussion by banging loudly on the walls.

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