Draw Poker Rules - 5 card draw & Jacks or Better draw

If you've seen Poker played in a film or TV Western, the chances are it is Draw Poker.  The format of the game lends itself to the silver screen because it is easy to show an audience which player has the best hand - there are no "community cards" as there are in some other variants, such as Texas Hold Em.  Draw Poker is the oldest form of Poker, and involves drawing cards from a deck to try and improve your hand.  Whilst Draw Poker remains very popular in home games, it is not widely played in casinos and few online poker rooms offer Draw either.  That's possibly just a matter of economics - Draw Poker hands tend to take longer than Hold Em, and fewer hands means less money for the online rooms.  It's also possible that Draw has just fallen temporarily out of fashion.  But some version of Draw Poker has featured in every single World Series Of Poker event, including this year's - and that is testament to the enduring popularity of Draw Poker amonst players. There are two main variants of draw poker : five card draw and jacks-or-better draw.

Five Card Draw Poker Rules

The classic Draw Poker game, from which all other variants take their cue. Each player is dealt five cards, all face down.  There are two rounds of betting, the first before the draw and the second after the draw. Five card draw is usually played with both a button and an ante. Players can check, open for the minimum bet, or open with a raise. Once the first round of betting is over players can draw new cards to replace any cards they decide to get rid of. After the draw the action starts with the opener (or next player proceeding clockwise if the opener folds). The betting limit after the draw is double the amount of the betting limit before the draw. Some five card draw games let a player open on anything; others require the person opening the betting to have at least a pair of jacks (see below).  Any player can draw up to four cards. If a player wants to draw five new cards, four are dealt right away, and the fifth card after everyone else has drawn cards. If the last player wants to draw five new cards, four are dealt right away, and a card is "burned" before the player is dealt a fifth card.  You don't have to draw cards in a game of 5 Card Draw Poker.  Not drawing any cards at all is known as "standing pat".

Jacks Or Better Draw Poker Rules

One of the most common Draw Poker variants. In this version, you need a pair of jacks or better to open the pot. If no player opens the pot, the button moves clockwise and each player must ante again - most games allow three such deals in a row before anteing stops. Any player who has declared the pot opened must prove openers in order to win the pot. The pot will play (even if the opener shows a fouled hand) if there has been a raise, two or more players call the opening bet, or all of the action is completed before the draw.  Any player can ask the opener to retain the opening hand and show it after the winner of the pot has been decided. Jacks or Better draw poker forms the basis of the classic Jacks Or Better Video Draw Poker Game.

Draw Poker Odds / Probabilities

As with any form of poker, your chance of winning at 5 card draw or jacks or better draw goes up dramatically if you know what the likelihood is that you can improve your hand.  So here is a list of the odds of drawing out on some of the more common draw poker hands :  

You hold:                     You draw:          Hoping to improve to:        Odds AGAINST making hand:

One pair                       3 cards             Any improvement              2.48 - 1
One pair                       3 cards             Two Pair                           5.25 - 1
One pair + kicker          2 cards             Any improvement              2.86 - 1
One pair + kicker          2 cards             Two Pair                           4.9 - 1
Ace High                       4 cards             Any improvement              3 - 1
Flush Draw                    1 card              Flush                                 4.2 - 1
Open Straight Draw        1 card              Straight                            4.9 - 1
Gut-shot Straight Draw   1 card              Straight                            10.8 - 1
3 Of A Kind                    2 cards            Full House                         15.4 - 1
2 Pair                            1 card              Full House                         10.75 - 1

Draw Poker is about much more than just knowing the odds, but if you just play the percentages you should find the online games at PokerStars are easily beatable.

Video Draw Poker Rules & Strategy

Most video poker games are based on draw poker, and you can use your knowledge of the odds of drawing a card to help you improve your win rate when playing video draw poker slots.  Here's a winning strategy for a "Jacks-or-better" video draw poker slot...
After your spin, elect to keep cards in this order :

Full house.
Four to a Royal Flush
Straight, Flush, or three of a kind
Four to a Straight Flush
Two pair.
High pair.
Three to a Royal Flush
Four to a flush
Low pair
Four to an outside straight.
Two suited high cards.
Three to a straight flush.
Two suited cards over ten.
Two high cards.
One high card.

Discard everything else. If you have more than one in the same spin, keep the highest on this list (e.g. two pair instead of four to a flush).  Be sure to play with at a reputable casino with a decent bonus offer such as www.888.com or www.32red.com.

Play Draw Poker Online

As stated before, Draw Poker is out of fashion in both on-line and bricks and mortar casinos, but luckily there are a couple of poker rooms committed to the game. Most importantly, the best poker room around - PokerStars - offers the game, so naturally it is the most popular choice for draw enthusiasts, offering a good variety of games at various stakes from $1 - $10 for fixed limit games.   There is a very healthy number of Draw Poker players there, particularly at peak times, and you can usually find a juicy table. So really, why play anywhere else?!  

Home page

Trusted Poker Rooms

These are the most reputable poker rooms on the web. All will allow you to download their software for free and practice your poker with absolutely no obligation to deposit any money.


The biggest Poker Site of them all, and it just keeps getting bigger.  Now one of the UK's top 100 companies, it has just revamped its poker software to allow players to play casino games such as Blackjack too.

DETAILS of PartyPoker's site


An excellent choice if you are looking for a Sportsbook, Casino and Poker Room all in one site.  UK & European players can deposit hassle free via debit card.
DETAILS of Bet365 Poker's site


Slick software and the chance to play against some of the most famous poker players in the world
DETAILS of Ultimate Bet's site

Site Map