Five Card Draw

Strategy For Five Card Draw Poker

If you are you a seasoned Texas Hold’em player who fancies trying something a little different, consider playing a spot of Five Card Draw Poker.

You’ve no doubt seen it in films and TV shows where people are raising their house or car keys. Luckily in online five card draw poker you can only bet with the money you have on the table!

Below I will set out the rules and some basic strategy tips for five card draw (also known as 5CD or FCD) Limit 7-A.

What Is Five Card Draw?

You get dealt five cards face down and then choose how many cards you wish to discard and replace (called drawing) thereby making a new five card poker hand.

The cards you discard from your hand are sent face down to the muck and the new cards you draw are dealt to you face down from the top of the deck. you can choose to discard one, two, three four, all five, or none of your starting hand cards.

There is a betting round before drawing and a betting round after drawing. The best five card poker hand at the showdown out of the five players wins. That’s it, nice and easy. Great opportunities to bluff as well! :D

7-A Five Card Draw

I’m going to list a few basic strategies for FCD that have helped me turn a very nice profit, even on low limit games. If you follow these tips and get good at reading the other players then you can make a killing at it. There are many variants on the game but I am going to discuss the version of five card draw which is called “7-A”, and I will explain exactly what this is.

The deck is stripped of all cards except 7,8,9,T,J,Q,K,A – However, there is a random occurring of a 6, but I will deal with this later. As you can probably guess most hands that get dealt will be reasonable as you’re playing with the top half of the deck.

There is always a maximum of five players round each table and so it is a very good game for reading the other players as you only have 4 opponents to concentrate gathering information on.

There are 3 notable events that take play in 7-A five card draw poker:

  1. The 6′s will be added to the deck ONLY IF there are 5 players active at the start of the deal.
  2. Should you be drawing to a straight and chose to hold 6,7,8,9; obviously T would make your straight, however in this situation only, and Ace can be used as a wildcard and would also fill in the straight taking the place of a 5 meaning that you are still “open-ended”.
  3. A Flush beats a full house! I found this out after a stroppy email to my poker room complaining that I’d been robbed after my AAKKK was beaten. This makes sense becase half the deck is discarded, it is more likely to make a full house than it is a flush and so more value is added to the flush. The lesson to learn here is “Learn the rules of the game you are about to play” Hence why I’m setting this all out for you. How nice am I!?

Apart from that, normal poker hand rankings rules apply.

Five Card Draw Strategy

Starting Hand Requirements

I would suggest that you would want to be entering into the pot with no less than a pair of Queens with an Ace, for example QQA76. Clearly you can play looser and get in with a pair of Jacks with a Queen kicker but I don’t think you will be winning the pot more times than you will be losing the pot.

Position is equally as important in five card draw as it is in normal Texas Hold’em. When on the button you have the option of seeing how many cards everyone else draws before you have to decide.

Open ended straight draws are ok to enter into the pot if there are a few other limpers giving you value but I personally wouldn’t want to draw for a gutshot unless I’m on the big blind anc can enter a cheap pot.


I would raise with a good two pair AAXX and trips or above. Obviously reraise with any monster hands such as a made full-house, straight, flush or higher.

How Many To Draw

Let’s look at some examples to give you an idea of a typical situation.

QQA76 – Hold the QQA and draw 2 – This has the benefit of making it look like you could have trips if you raised or called a raise pre-draw, plus it also gives you 5 outs to hit (2×Q + 3×A)

777AK – Hold the A and draw 1 – this disguises that you have trips, making your opponents think you are on a draw or that you have 2 pair. If you hit one of you 4 outs (1×7 + 3×A) then you seriously improve.

KKQQ7 – Hold KKQQ and draw 1 hoping to hit either a K or Q. A full house is a strong hand in five card draw poker.

If you are dealt a straight, flush or better obviously hold the lot and draw no cards, which is also called “standing pat”.

Quads – Should you be lucky enough to be dealt 7777A hold the 7777 and draw 1 so that again it is disguised. Your opponents will be wary of you if you stand pat, but are more likely to give you action if they think you are drawing to one card.

Calling Raises Pre-Draw

Depending on how your opponents play I would want at least 2 pair in my hand to be calling raises before I draw any cards. If you hold an open ended straight flush draw, you are getting implied odds if you hit your hand because likely your opponent will not lay theirs down.

Reading Five Card Draw Players From How Many Cards they Draw

These are general rules of thumb and clearly people do indeed bluff (as can you). Depending on the number of cards your opponent draws determines what you should do.

No. Of Cards Drawn Likely To Be Holding You Should
Draw 1 Either on a draw for straight or flush, or they have 2 pair. Be wary. Refer to your player notes for what they could be holding. Bet into them, but be prepared to fold if they check-raise.
Draw 2 Most likely have trips or pair with Ace kicker. Watch what they turn over and make notes if they draw with QQA Put them on trips if they raised pre-draw, put them on a pair if they checked/flat called.
Draw 3 Can currently only have a pair at best at the moment. Watch if they come out betting on the next round as they most likely held a high pair and have now hit trips.
Draw 4 Currently have not a lot at all and are on a wing and a prayer. Bet into them on the next round as they will likely not make a playable hand.
Draw 5 Very unlikely that they would have called the initial bet, however the big blind may do this. Obviously they currently have nothing and could get any random hand – bet into them knowing you will only lose once in a blue moon.
Draw 0 This means that they either have:

  • Straight
  • Flush
  • Full house
  • Quads
  • Straight Flush
  • On a complete bluff and are just trying to steal the pot!
Fold unless you strongly feel they are bluffing, or you hold a monster yourself.

A Few Five Card Draw Tactics To Win You Some Cash

As you can see from the above table you can learn a lot about a players hand even though you get to see none of their cards. It is therefore possible to outline a few sneaky tactics to get the other players to fold, giving you the pot.

If for example there are 2 other players in the hand and they both draw 3 cards we can tell from the table above that they hold pre-draw at best one pair. Should you be on the button you should raise and elect to draw 2 with your QQA (or any high pair with top kicker). Your opponents should and will put you on trips. If they both check to you after the draw then you can go ahead and bet out. Your opponents would have bet out if they hit anything better than the pair they had pre draw. If they are drawing 2 cards and bet early, then you can get away from the hand and fold.

If you have been fairly quiet for a while it could well be time to implement the button steal. This doesn’t have to be done on the button as such, but the method is to raise pre-draw with the intention that you will Stand Pat no matter what you have. It’s a blatant bluff that works best in the cut-off position. Most people will draw their cards and then fold to your bet in the subsequent round. I personally like to try this method also if I have a decent 2 pair so that I have a backup and still win even if I get looked up.

The other beauty about this button steal is that if you do get looked up or even if they just start to see you raising more then they are less likely to believe you and therefore when you do finally get dealt your monster hand you will definately get some callers!

That’s It

So there you have it. Try it for yourself and give five card draw a chance.


  1. this is cool tips

    Comment by will scruggs on May 31, 2011 at 7:52 pm
  2. hi,i just want you to clear up an ongoin argument that cost me alot of money and if i am wrong will gladly own up to it.i recently played 5 card draw with a pal of mine.we had been playing for 3 hours straight and decided to call last game.because there was just 2 of us it was jacks or better to open evey time and openers had to be shown at the end of every hand.this last game went 12 hands without openers and had quite alot of money in it at this cut to the chase my pal opened which i had to call because of the amount of money involved.he bought 1 card,i bought 3 and filled a pair but couldn’t call his bet with a pair thinking he had at least 2 pair.i asked to see his opening hand and he produced a Q of spades and a 7 of diamonds.puzzled i said u cant open with that and he produced his winning hand of ace high spade flush.he said he was entitled to open with 4 spades but my understanding of the rule is that you can only open on an open ended straight flush draw and not 4 random spades.can you please clear this matter up once and for all.

    Comment by ken ross on August 22, 2011 at 5:17 am
  3. hello,
    no, yr friend cheated on u, u can not open with 4 spades or any other color, just call with it if u feel lucky enough to make the flush! get yr money back pal

    Comment by moattaz on February 17, 2012 at 4:43 am
  4. in 5 card draw, a 4 card straight has 8 cards left in the deck to fulfill the 0straight. a 4 card flush has 9 cards left to fulfill the flush. So, it seems to me the straigh should be worth more than the flush as it is harder to achieve. i’m puzzled. thanks.

    Comment by richard on April 14, 2013 at 3:36 am
  5. Howdy! This article couldn’t be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He constantly kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this information to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. I appreciate you for sharing!

    Comment by Anonymous on June 2, 2013 at 8:33 am
  6. Hi there. Nice article. I however have to make one important remark. You say that when the big blind has discarded 5, you should bet into them because “you will only lose once in a blue moon.” However, the big blind will ALWAYS check at you if he knows you’re betting into him after discarding 5 — planning to check-raise you if he’s made a very good hand. If he makes a good hand, he will call you. If he makes a monster, he will raise you. Now, if you take 5 cards with absolutely nothing, and discard all of them, the probability of getting a pair is about a 37-38% (that is, about a 4-5% that he’s made two aces or two kings), and about a 2% he’s made trips. Moreover, the two-pair probability is increased to almost an 8%. All in all, that’s a 14% percent (excluding flushes and straights and all that) that he’s making a fair-to-good hand. So you should not bet at him unless either he’s calling with far too many hands (his calling requirements are poor; and this is unlikely: the big blind KNOWS why he’s in the hand, which is free play, and won’t really be committed to call anything without a good hand, especially with the crappy pot odds he’ll be getting), or if you’ve got something that’ll beat him when he calls often enough. Otherwise, you’re just losing a number of bets there that you shouldn’t. After everybody folds if you’ve got QQAxx you should mostly raise and drive the blind out, as his chances of having a couple of aces or higher are smaller than they used to be (and if he’s a good player, and has nothing, he should know your two-pair probability is larger now).

    In fact, unless the blind has an ace in the hand (and doesn’t read you for aces), the correct play is to discard 5 because most people will bet at them and a check-raise is likely to work with the good hands.

    Comment by Manu on April 27, 2014 at 1:06 am

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