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Rules of play
Normally in the online environment, 5 Card Draw is played in either 5- or 6-handed format. The regular form of 5 Card Draw online is played with a small and a big blind. Usually the small blind (SB) is the half size of the big blind (BB). There are some sites which offer 5 Card Draw with antes. There are two rounds of betting:
1st betting round: predraw
Each player gets dealt 5 cards face down and then a round of betting starts. In a fixed limit (FL) game with blinds $2/$4, the SB and BB are $1 and $2 respectively.
Predraw a player may open with a bet of $4 ($2+$2) and then another player may raise to $6 and a third player can make it $8. The pot is then considered capped (just like in fixed limit Hold’em).
The order of betting is the same as in Texas Hold’em – UTG starts and BB is last to act. After the betting has finished it’s time for the ”draw” when you exchange the number of cards that could improve your hand.
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You may discard all 5 cards if you wish –the equal amount of cards will be replaced. For instatnce, if youhave a pair you may opt to discard 3 and try to improve to trips or if you already have a complete hand then you can choose to ”stand pat” (you do not fold any card).
The SB is always first to draw and the player on the button draws last. Position in the game of 5 Card Draw, means both being able to see how many cards the other player(s) draws and later on how the betting proceeds before it is your turn to act. It is naturally an advantage in a game with no common or open cards shared.
2nd betting round: postdraw
When the draw is completed the”postdraw” action begins. The player in SB acts first by betting (or checking). If the player first to act opts to bet then he will bet $4 dollars (a Big Bet) given a $2-$4 FL format. The next player can raise to $8, a third player can make it $12 and a fourth player $16, then the pot is capped.
In the event of a showdown, the player with the five best cards wins according to the same hand ranking as Texas Hold’em or Omaha.
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Easier concepts and strategies
As in Hold’em, there are many concepts for mathematical statistics and game theory that can illustrate how 5 Card Draw should be played. I would like to start by pointing out that if you are playing to become a solid winner, 5 Card Draw should be played in a very simply and straight forward fashion – both when it comes to drawing cards and betting.
You always enter a pot with a bet/raise. If, for example, you are dealt a pair of aces, go ahead and open bet and, if you get called, you discard three cards. You observe how many cards your opponent folds and then make a decision as to whether to bet, raise, check or fold, depending on your position and the strength of your hand after the draw.
Well, this all seems very easy, but there are more strategies and concepts involved that you should know well before you start playing seriously. As pointed out before, there are fewer betting rounds in comparison to Hold’em and the statistical odds in hands is more ”static” than in a more dynamic game like Hold’em.
For instance, imagine how Hold’em would be if you only played pre and postflop and then there was a showdown. Not many card games can be illustrated close to ”accurately” with various mathematical and statistical concepts, but there is no doubt that 5 Card Draw can be described and illustrated more simply than Texas Hold’em, for instance.
In this article, I will show the most fundamental strategies which should be enough, along with real money practice, to beat the average player.
In conclusion – the reasons why you should play 5 Card Draw:
*It is a simple game: easy to learn and the action is fast.
*Due to the fact that 5 Card Draw only has two betting rounds and that many people are familiar with the game from the early days (and never really learnt the game) it attracts more recreational and hobby players. You will also find Hold’em players with less theoretical knowledge about the game and overall the value at the tables is very sound, despite the relatively small player base. In addition, there are regulars that never seem to learn the “proper” way of playing 5 Card Draw.
*The game is low variance which is a perk for building a bankroll.
*There are easier and less complicated strategies and concepts.
*The game is fun!
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Poker strategy: Five Card Draw