5 Card Poker Hands: Rules and Strategy

5 Card Poker Hands: Rules and Strategy

5 Card Poker Hands

One of the simplest and most classic forms of poker is 5-Card Draw. It’s often the first variant that many people learn, making it a nostalgic favourite for many poker enthusiasts. Unlike the more complex games found in casinos, 5-Card Draw is a staple in home games, where its straightforward rules make it accessible and fun for all skill levels. For those looking to play online, BLITZPOKER offers a fantastic platform to enjoy poker variants like Hold’ em, Omaha and more.

Over the years, the popularity of 5-Card Draw has been eclipsed by games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha. These games feature community cards and complex betting strategies, which have captured the imagination of the poker world, particularly in competitive environments.

Despite this, 5-Card Draw still has a dedicated following. Many players enjoy its simplicity and the unique strategies it offers. This is particularly evident in the online poker community, where several platforms continue to host cash games and tournaments dedicated to 5-Card Draw. For those who appreciate a straightforward, nostalgic poker experience, 5-Card Draw remains a beloved choice for them.

5 Card Poker Hands

Hand Example
Royal Flush A-K-Q-J-10 (all in the same suit)
Straight Flush 8-7-6-5-4 (all in the same suit)
Four of a Kind A-4-4-4-4
Full House A-A-A-J-J (three of one kind, two of another)
Flush A-J-8-4-2 (all in the same suit)
Straight 8-7-6-5-4 (different suits)
Three of a Kind A-K-5-5-5
Two Pair A-A-J-J-2
One Pair A-A-7-4-2
High Card A-Q-9-6-3 (different suits, non-connected)

5 Card Poker Game Rules

Memorize the hand ranks

If you’re new to poker, you must learn the hand rankings first. Without this, you might have a winning hand and not even know it! Let’s start with the basics before moving on to specifics about 5-card poker:

  • High card
  • One pair
  • Two pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • Four of a kind
  • Straight flush
  • Royal flush
  • Five of a kind (applicable when using a wild card)

Know the basics

Now that you know the 5 Card poker hands, how do you play the game? You’re aiming to get the highest-ranked hand. Here’s a simple overview before we dive into details:

  • The dealer gives everyone 5 cards.
  • Initial bets are placed.
  • Players can swap some cards to improve their hand.
  • Another round of bets follows.
  • Remaining players reveal their cards.
  • The best hand wins the pot.

Understand blind and ante games

5-card poker has two ways to start a round: blind or ante. It’s about personal preference or your friends’ choice.

In blind games:

  • The player left of the dealer is the “small blind.” They place a small bet before any cards are dealt.
  • The next player is the “big blind,” betting twice the small blind.
  • To play, others must match the big blind.

In ante games:

  • Everyone puts a set amount into the pot before any cards are dealt.
  • This setup discourages early folding.

Learn to check, call, raise, and fold

Once the dealer gives you your five cards and it’s your turn, you have three choices: call, raise, or fold. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Checking means betting nothing. If no bets are placed, you can check. If someone bets, you must call, raise, or fold.
  • Calling means matching the current bet. If the bet is 10 rupees, you put in 10 rupees.
  • Raising means increasing the bet. If someone bets 10 rupees, you might raise it to 15. Others then must match your bet to stay in.
  • Folding means quitting the round. You place your cards face down and lose any money you’ve bet that round.

Use wild cards

Introducing wild cards adds surprise and strategy. Agree on the rules before starting. Wild cards can make a “5 of a kind” possible, which is the best hand.

  • Some play with deuces wild (2s).
  • Others use the first card off the deck as a wild card.
  • Some use the one-eyed Jack or add a joker to the deck.

If using a joker, decide on any restrictions (a “bug”). It might only count as an Ace or to complete a straight or flush, not just any card a player wants.

Set limits

You can control the betting by setting limits. This helps manage the game’s pace and stops players from losing too much money. You have three options:

  • No limit: Bet as much as you want.
  • Limit: Set minimum and maximum bets for each round.
  • Pot limit: Bets can’t be more than what’s already in the pot.

Play lowball

You can play lowball when everyone has bad hands, aiming for the lowest hand possible. This is handy if no one wants to bet or everyone keeps checking.

In lowball:

  • Aces are low (usually they’re high).
  • Straights and flushes don’t count.
  • The worst hand is A-2-3-4-5, where 5 is the highest card with no pairs.

5 Card Poker Game Strategy

Learning how to play five-card draw poker takes just a few minutes. However, becoming a pro requires practice. Many novice 5-card draw players make the mistake of playing too many hands, especially those drawing to a straight or flush.

In many situations, the advice “tight is right” applies to starting hand selection in 5-card draw. As in games with community cards, your position relative to the button matters in 5-card draw poker.

The closer you are to the button, the wider the range of hands you can play profitably. Regardless of your position, you should almost always enter the pot with a raise. Limping in often leads to several other players limping behind, meaning you need a much stronger hand to win the pot.

Play tight from early positions and raise with hands like aces or kings. As your position improves, you can add other high pairs such as queens, jacks, tens, and nines, as long as the latter have a good kicker.

If you’re lucky enough to be dealt two pairs or three-of-a-kind, always raise, whether you’re under the gun or on the button. Be cautious with hands like four to a straight or flush, as these can drain your bankroll. With one card to come, you’re around a 4-to-1 underdog to hit your hand. Often, you won’t have the right pot odds to attempt completing your straight or flush, especially in a short-handed game.