5 Card Draw Poker Online: How & Where to Play

Posted by James Guill . Last updated:

While it may not be as popular as it used to be, 5 card draw poker is often considered the simplest poker game variation and great option for beginners and those who enjoy quick games. This guide will introduce you to 5 card poker rules and how to play 5 card draw poker.

Best Online 5 Card Draw Poker Sites

Here are the best online casinos, recommended by our team of experts, for US players who want to play 5 card poker online:

How to Play 5 Card Draw Poker Online

Chances are if you’ve played poker in the past, you’ll be able to pick up 5 card draw in no time.

Simply put, each player’s goal is to make the best possible poker hand by exchanging cards in their hands for ones from the deck. 5 card draw hand rankings are very similar to other popular poker variations.

Read on for each step of a hand of 5 card poker.

five green playing cards

Deal, Ante & Blinds

In 5 card poker, one of the players will be given the responsibility of acting as the dealer. This player will be referred to as the dealer or “on the button”.

In online games, this player will typically have a chip marked “dealer” placed near their cards. The cards will be dealt automatically, and the dealer button is only relevant for placement on the table.

5 card can be played with blinds or antes.

two equivalent stacks of green poker chips


When playing with antes, each player is required to bet the same amount before any cards are dealt. This amount is known as the ante.

Poker chip with spade logo in middle


When playing with blinds, the two players to the left of the dealer are required to place bets before any cards are dealt.

The player closest to the dealer will place the small blind (e.g. $5) and the next player to the left will place the big blind (e.g. $10).

Once the blinds or antes are settled, each player will be dealt 5 cards, one at a time, face down.

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Pre-Draw Betting Round

After cards have been dealt, there is an initial round of betting.

Like in other poker variations, players can choose to either bet, raise, check, call, or fold, depending on the circumstance.


To fold is to turn in all cards and forfeit the round, along with any bets the player has made


To check is to choose to remain in the game, but not bet. You can think of this as placing a $0 bet.


To bet is to place a wager into the pot. All players will need to match this amount if they want to remain in the game.


To call is to match another player’s bet. If another player has bet, and you wish to remain in the hand, you will need to call.


To raise is to match and increase another player’s bet. If you raise another player’s bet, all player’s must match this new amount if they want to remain in the game.

Once each player has had a chance to bet, and all players have either folded or committed the same amount to the pot, the game enters the draw phase.

five green playing cards

Draw Phase

In the draw phase, players have a chance to improve their hand by trading cards from their hand for the equivalent amount from the deck.

Moving clockwise around the table, each player will have a chance to draw. When it is their turn, the player must choose how many cards they wish to discard. Note, should a player wish to keep all of their cards, they can ‘stand pat’ and choose not to draw.

Once the player has discarded, the dealer will deal that same amount of cards back to the player, ensuring they still have 5 cards in their hand.

two poker chips atop one another

Post-Draw Betting Round

Once all players have exchanged cards, there is an additional round of betting. During this round, players have all the same bet types available as they did in the pre-draw betting round – fold, check, bet, call, or raise.

Like in the pre-draw betting round, once all players have either folded or placed equal wagers, the betting round ends. Assuming there is more than one active player remaining, the game moves into the showdown phase.

a man wearing a tie next to a bag of money


Like in other poker variations, once betting is complete, remaining players must “show down” – reveal their cards for the table to see.

5 card poker is no exception – once active players have finished betting and drawing, their cards will be turned face-up, and the best poker hand takes the pot.

Read on for a list of 5 card draw poker hand rankings.

The History of 5 Card Draw

5 Card Draw is one of the oldest poker games in the world, dating back to the middle ages and the Wild West, where cowboys played 5 card draw a matter of course in saloons at the turn of the 19th century.

While 5 Card Draw has been eclipsed in popularity by Texas Hold ‘em, it remains a much-played poker game and it’s only in the 20th century that it was overtaken in popularity so can claim to have been the most popular poker variant in the world for the longest time.

Played often by miners who had spent the day panning for gold 5 Card Draw began with just one betting round at the beginning of the game and no draw. At this time, 5 Card Draw was played with just 20 cards, with the cards ranking from ten up to ace in the four suits. The only hands you could go for were one pair, two pair, three of a kind, a full house and four of a kind. The best hand in this format was four aces or four kings with an ace kicker, since that would eliminate the possibility of a better hand.

With the full deck of cards introduced in the 1820’s, more cards meant more players and drawing cards was introduced, along with additional betting rounds, with a flush and a straight two rankings hands that were added thereafter.

As the Mississippi riverboats become floating casinos, New Orleans became the home of 5 Card Draw and everyone would head to The Big Easy for a game. Popular with soldiers during many world wars, 5 Card Draw remains a hugely social game, and while seven card stud took some of the 5 Card Draw players from the population, online poker brought many more back.

5 Card Draw Poker Hand Rankings

The best poker hands in 5 card are very similar to most popular poker games. They are ranked best to worst in the chart below.

Poker Hand Name Cards Example Hand
Royal Flush A, K, Q, J, 10 – same suit royal flush
Straight Flush Five sequential cards – same suit straight flush
Four of a Kind Four cards of the same value, one of each suit – fifth card doesn’t matter four of a kind
Full House Three cards of the same value, and a pair of an additional value full house
Flush Five cards of the same suit – any order flush
Straight Five sequential cards – any suit straight
Three of a Kind Three cards of the same value – other two cards don’t matter cards-three-of-kind
Two Pair Two cards of the same value and two cards of a different value – fifth card doesn’t matter cards-two-pair
One Pair Two cards of the same value – other three cards don’t matter cards-one-pair

High Card

None of the above; defer to the highest-value card in the hand

five playing cards, all different

5 Card Poker Strategies

Even the most basic online poker variants like 5 card draw come with sound strategies that can help even novice players stay in the game longer, learn basic game flow and, in a best-case scenario, grow their bankroll by winning pots.

Don’t be Afraid to Raise

Calculated aggressiveness is important in poker. If you have a strong hand, raising can cause other players to fold and increase the 5 card draw pot size.

3-or-More Card Rule

The amount of cards you’ll need to draw is a good metric for when you should fold or bet. Especially if you didn’t have to post a blind, if you have to draw 3 or more cards, you should consider folding.

Use Checking to Play for Free

If you’re on the fence about your hand, and might fold if there’s action, if there are no bets before you, just ‘check’. This will keep you in the game longer and give you a chance of making it to the draw/showdown phase for free.

Common Strategies

In 5 Card Draw, just like in Texas Hold ‘em, you want to be raising more than calling if you’re playing the hand. Plenty of 5 Card Draw players will limp into pots, so by taking early control you can lead the action.

Limping may often be the wrong action, but in 5 Card Draw, there are exceptions to prove that rule. If you complete in the small blind with two or more players in the pot, this is perfectly fine and checking in the big blind is not a bad idea if you feel that raising out of position is going to damage your chances.

In 5 Card Draw, making three of a kind is a kind of baseline aim that you should shoot for, with trips the best chance you have of making a regularly winning hand. By that token, if you’re dealt two queens, two unmatching low cards and a king, you’d be best advised to keep the queens and draw three cards, sacrificing the higher card king for the chance of making a higher value hand.

What to Do With Dealt Hands

Given the number of players who limp, if you raise to isolate a weaker player pre-flop, that’s a great strategy too. Here are a few dealt hands and what you should be thinking as you consider how many cards to switch for new ones when its your turn to draw.

  • If you’re dealt a pair, draw three cards in an attempt to make trips.
  • If you’re dealt trips, draw two and aim for four-of-a-kind or a full house.
  • If you have a flush or straight draw, switch one card only to attempt to complete it.
  • If you have a terrible hand, keep cards higher in value than a jack and draw the rest.

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