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5 Card Draw Strategy

By Gary Steele

The game of five card draw poker is a favorite for many people playing at home with friends. You will not find five card draw at very many casino sites, probably due to the fact that there are only two betting rounds. There is some strategy involved, but the techniques mostly have to do with projecting powerful hands and using psychology against the other players.

Five card draw is a simple game. Each player is dealt five cards and a round of betting takes place. Next, each player discards up to three or four cards (the number differs depending on who calls the game) in his or her hand and gets an equal number of cards back from the dealer. Another round of betting takes place and the player with the best hand wins the pot.

Three of a kind is fairly common in this game since it is the hand most players are trying to make when drawing. Straights, flushes and full houses are not very common, but if you have a player draw one card there is a pretty good chance they are shooting for one of these hands.

One of the best ploys for taking a pot in this game is to raise before the draw, not take any cards, and raise again. This technique does not work if the other players know you use it all the time, so be sure to use it sparingly and only when the pot is large enough to take a shot at. If you are known for only betting when you have a good hand this is an extremely effective psychological five card draw tool. Pretending you get the card you need when you only draw one card also is an effective strategy to take a decent pot.

The size of the ante is important to calculating how often you should call the initial bet. If the ante is large in comparison to the limit, you need to play more loosely since pots will be larger. A large ante would be considered 50% or more of the betting limit (50 cents on a dollar limit game is a large ante). A smaller ante means you should play tighter taking your shots at the pot only when you have something good to start with. A small ante is around 15% or less of the betting limit (15 cents on a dollar limit game is a small ante). Always adjust your game to the size of the ante in addition to the other players in the game.

Of course, position is also very important. Being the last to bet makes it easier to convince players to drop out of the pot. You have all of the information when making the bet and can often scare players who may hold the best hand or are hoping to see a free card with a small bet. Betting in early position (first or second) is much tougher if you do not have a very good hand. If you have a decent hand after the draw from early position always bet hoping to take the pot. If you have a great hand you can consider slow-playing your hand hoping someone else bets and you can raise later. If you have junk you usually have to give up the betting to the other players. It is too risky to bet with junk in five card draw.

Five card draw can be a lot of fun. Taking all of the factors into consideration and adjusting your game accordingly can make you an above average player. The advice above is very general and assumes you already know a lot about poker. If you need to become an expert at the game, Doyle Brunson’s book Super System has much more comprehensive strategic advice.

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