Draw Poker

As far as different poker variants go, Draw Poker is second only to Texas Hold’em in terms of popularity. It is quite simple to learn and to play, which probably accounts for this status. Also, the ubiquitous video poker machine is usually based on some form of Draw Poker and therefore could easily surpass all other forms of poker in the amount of hands being played at any given moment around the world.

Draw Poker doesn’t always get the credit it deserves from poker enthusiasts, mainly due to the high element of luck and limited degree of strategy involved, especially compared to Texas Hold’em. However, you should know that there are several different types of Draw Poker which have been introduced over the years and have really spiced it up. We’ll cover these for you shortly, but first let’s go over the basics of Draw Poker.

Note: Keep in mind that since 5-Card Draw Poker is the most popular form of the game, it is usually referred to as merely Draw Poker. In this piece, when we refer to high and low hands, we are talking about traditional poker hand values; i.e. a Full House ranks higher than a flush, a Flush ranks higher than a Straight, etc. Also, we feel we should mention a few terms that will be used in the following discussion which you may find helpful to review.
To roll means to flip over a card which is face down.
The showdown
is the point at which all betting is finished and the players must flip over their cards to determine who the winner is.

Basics

Now we come to the basics of Draw Poker. In almost every form of this type of poker, there can be anywhere from 2 to 8 players at the table. In casual home games, players merely ante up to begin the play, but in the more structured casino version, (both online and land-based) there is a small and big blind similar to Texas Hold’em. After the ante, each player is then dealt a specified number of hole cards (according to the version) and then, following a round of betting, given the choice to throw out the cards they don’t want and “draw” new ones. In most casinos you can usually exchange up to 5 cards. Following the draw, a second round of betting occurs and players then have the option to bet, call, raise, or fold. The player with the best traditional poker hand wins, except for the versions in which attaining the lowest hand is the main object.
A popular variation of Draw Poker involves playing with a Joker, which is a designated wild card. Of course, this significantly alters the game, as hands which would normally be very strong lose value due to the potential presence of a wild card.

Draw Poker Variants

The following is a list of the different types of draw poker and a brief explanation of each. Click on the title of each variant to be taken to its description and breakdown:

Anaconda
All for One or One for All
Don Juan
Howdy Doody
Jack to Open, Trips to Win
Pick a Partner
Neuticles
Triple Draw 2-7
Threes
Trees
Monkey Love

Anaconda

Number of Players: 4-7

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt seven cards face down.
Rules: A round of clockwise betting starts following the initial deal, after which each player passes three unwanted cards to the player on his left. Another round of betting ensues and the players each discard two more cards, once again to the player on the left. Then comes another round of betting and a final card is passed to the left. Each player then discards two cards to establish his final 5-card hand. If a player chooses to remain in the hand at this point, he places his hand face down in front of him. In some versions of the game, a rollout phase comes next. This means that the remaining players arrange their cards in any order they choose. Each player’s first card is revealed and yet another round of betting follows. This continues for each of the first four cards until a showdown occurs on the last card. Players may not change the order of their cards once the rollout has commenced. In Anaconda, a player’s memory is quite important, as each will have seen up to 13 cards in the course of a one hand.

Object: To assemble the best five-card hand out of your remaining seven cards.

Variations: 3’s and 9’s are wild and a player gets an extra card with a 4; this version is also called Dog Butt

All For One or One For All

Number of Players: 3 – 10

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt five cards face down.

Rules: After the deal and an opening round of betting, each player is given the choice to draw an additional card or to exchange their entire hand for a new one. Another betting round ensues and then the player to the left leads. This format continues until there are fewer cards left in the deck than players competing for the pot. The options to call, bet, raise, or fold are available only when it’s your turn to play.

Object: To have the strongest 5-card hand.

Don Juan

Number of Players: 3 – 8

Opening Deal: Each player receives three cards face down.

Rules: Opens with a round of betting (or just an ante). Starting to the left of the dealer, each player takes turns exchanging between one and three cards for the same number of new ones from the deck, or they leave their hand as it is. Another betting round occurs, followed by the showdown.

Object: To put together the lowest hand, in this case A-2-3.

Variations: You follow the same general format but, instead of a betting round, have each player pay a specified amount, i.e., a quarter for every card they replace.

Howdy Doody

Number of Players: 3 – 8

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt seven cards face down.

Rules: Similar to Anaconda, except that the highest and the lowest hands split the pot. Threes are wild, but only when used with a hand trying to win the high pot, and Kings are wild, but only when used with a hand trying to win the low pot. This makes for a interesting choice to be made by the player in terms of which pot he will aim for. Regarding the betting, it doesn’t take place until the showdown.

Object: To assemble either the highest or lowest hand, whose owners split the pot.

Jacks to Open, Trips to Win

Number of Players: 3 – 7

Opening deal: Each player is dealt five cards face down.

Rules: Very similar to standard 5-Card Draw with the following differences: Only a player with a pair of Jacks or stronger may open the betting. If nobody can open, the hand is mucked, everyone antes into the same pot again, and the cards are re-dealt. When betting is underway, the game continues in the same fashion as 5-Card Draw. That is until the showdown, at which point only players with at least 3 of a kind may win the pot. Once again if no one can win, the hand is restarted and the hand is dealt only to those players who had not yet folded on previous hands.

Object: To assemble the high hand (with at least 3 of a kind).

Variations:

Progressive – If no one can open, on the next hand the minimum is increased to a pair of Queens, then Kings, then Aces, and then back to Jacks, and so on.

Hi/Lo Split – The pot is divided between the high and low hands.

No Trips – To open the betting a pair of Jacks is needed (at least), but there is no requirement to win the hand.

Limit Number of Hands: Set a limit, i.e. five, on the number of hands played without a winner. After that number is reached, play a standard 5-Card Stud in which anything can open and anything can win.

Pick a Partner

Number of Players: 4, 6, 8, or 10

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt five cards face down.

Rules: Each player draws an unseen card from their hand. The player with the highest card chooses a partner. Next, the second-highest card holder chooses a partner and so on and so on until everyone is partnered up. Partners then combine what’s left into an eight-card hand and choose the best three. Now a rollout phase occurs with a round of betting following each time. The winning team splits the pot.

Object: To put together the highest hand.

Neuticles

Number of Players: 4 -7

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt seven cards face down.

Rules: We’re not sure why this game is named after the term for a dog’s testicular implants, but we do know it’s essentially the same format as Anaconda but without the passing of the cards to your opponents.

Object: To assemble the highest 5-card hand.

Variations: You can also play Neuticles with only five or six cards being dealt at the start.

Triple Draw 2 – 7

Number of Players: 2 - 6

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt five cards face down.

Rules: After the deal comes four rounds of betting and three draws. Each time players can choose the amount of cards they want to exchange, from zero all the way up to five. The first to act is the player immediately to the dealer’s left and then it progresses clockwise around the table with each passing round. Following the third draw and the final round of betting, the players reveal their cards and a winner is determined.

Object: To make the lowest possible 5-card hand, keeping in mind that Aces are always high and flushes and straights still rank high. Thus the best possible hand is an off-suited 2 thru 7.

Threes

Number of Players: 3 – 5

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt 5 cards face down.

Rules: The same as standard 5-Card Draw, except for two things: There are three rounds of drawing and betting, which makes for an added level of drama and much larger pots, and 3’s are wild.

Object: To put together the highest possible hand.

Trees

Number of Players: 3 – 10

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt five cards face down.

Rules: The game starts with a round of betting following the deal. At this point each player has the opportunity to exchange cards with anyone at the table, provided they get back the same number of cards that they give. The number of trades one can make is unlimited. After all exchanges are made a final round of betting occurs, after which comes the showdown to determine the winner.

Object: To assemble the highest possible hand.

Monkey Love

Number of Players: 3 – 6

Opening Deal: Each player is dealt five cards face down.

Rules: Works the same as standard 5-Card Stud except that the player to your immediate left gets the cards you replace and they can use them to strengthen their own hand, which often wind up being very strong.

Object: To put together the best 5-card hand.