One of the oldest surviving forms of poker, 5 Card Draw Poker has been a staple variant in home poker games
due to its ease to teach, simple rules, and rapid game play. Though 5 Card Draw Poker rules are easy to learn, mastering the strategy of 5 Card Draw Poker requires dedicated practice. Unlike the more popular community card and stud poker games, all of the cards dealt to each player in Five Card Draw Poker are completely private, making the strength of any player's hand that much more difficult to determine.
The betting structure of 5 Card Draw varies between homes games and casinos. Antes - small, forced bets contributed by all players to inaugurate the pot before the hand is dealt - are commonly used in home games. However, casino card rooms and online poker sites
that offer 5 Card Draw Poker implement the use of a small blind and a big blind - pre-deal bets posted by the two players seated to the left of the dealer. The forced bet provided by the small blind is half the amount of the minimum bet set by the table stakes, while the big blind is equal to the minimum bet. In a $1/$2 Five Card Draw Poker game, the small blind would be $.50, and the big blind would be $1.
Unlike home games in which players take turns as the dealer, in casino and online poker
games, the "dealer" position is indicated by a disc-shaped marker called the "button," which is passed around the table clockwise after each hand. Once the blinds (or antes) have established a pot, the cards are dealt one at a time in a clockwise pattern beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, until all players have received a total of five cards.
Action begins with the player seated to the left of the big blind, who may call the big blind's minimum bet, raise the bet, or fold if they do not believe their starting cards are worth playing. If the player folds, the cards are returned to the dealer, no money is lost, and the player will simply await the next hand. Choosing to raise the bet, the player must increase the current bet by at least one small bet (the minimum bet amount). Each player thereafter, in turn, has the choice to fold, call, or raise. In a Fixed Limit 5 Card Draw Poker game, only three raises are permitted in the course of each betting round. Pot Limit 5 Card Draw rules allow raises of up to the current size of the pot, and No Limit rules merely restrict players to raising the current bet to the total amount of their chips (called "going all-in").
If the bet has not been raised by the time action has passed around the table to the big blind, the player in this position is technically already paid into the hand with the blind bet posted before the hand was dealt. Or, if a raise has occurred, the blinds posted count toward that players total bet if they choose to call or raise, in which case action will continue around the table.
The first betting round ends when all players have either called the final bet amount, or folded, at which point the Drawing round begins. The first relevant player to the dealer's left may now exchange as many of their cards as they wish for new cards in an attempt to improve their hand. Each successive, active player, in clockwise rotation, takes a turn to trade in one or more cards. In online Five Card Draw Poker, this is facilitated by clicking on the cards to select those which are to be exchanged for new cards, then clicking a confirmation button to initiate the draw. Players in a live 5 Card Draw Poker game should not separate the cards they wish to exchange from their hand until it is their turn to act. A player is not required to exchange any cards, and may keep their original hand for the final round.
Once the Drawing phase is complete, the final betting round begins to the dealer's left with the first player still in the hand. This player has the option to fold, open the bet, or check - thereby staying in the hand for free if no one else opts to place a wager. It is possible in this round for every player to check, leaving the pot as it stood at the close of the first betting round. However, if a player elects to open the bet, any players who have checked will be required to either meet the bet, fold, or perhaps raise (an act called "check-raising").
If two or more players remain in play as the final betting round comes to a close, there is a showdown. Each player who still has a stake in the pot reveals their cards, and the winner is determined. The player with the highest ranking five-card hand wins all of the chips in the pot. In the case of a tie, the pot is divided evenly among the two or more winning hands. Unlike a select few poker games and some house rule variations, Five Card Draw Poker rules do not give precedence to any particular suit in order to break a tie, especially in online and casino poker rooms