How to Play Draw Poker

Gambling with leisure cards for a per game.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd. The joker represents a 4. This is the best possible hand for Ace-to-Five Lowball; it is also known as a "wheel."

The number of poker games is countless. In this article, we discuss a few variations called draw poker. These games allow the player to trade in cards in the hopes of receiving better ones. They may be hard to find in poker rooms, and if you do find one, it may be offered at only one table. However, they're still fun, and represent a different kind of challenge. Try one of these games at your next poker party.


Five-Card Draw

Five-card draw is the first poker game that many people learned. Players usually post an ante, receive five cards, and have a round of betting starting to the left of the dealer. Then each player may trade in cards for new ones to improve their hand. This is followed by a second round of betting. It is rarely played in casinos or poker rooms, and it is not played as often as it used to be in home games. For many poker players, its biggest drawback is that it has only two betting rounds.



Lowball is a form of draw poker played for the lowest hand. Most Lowball games have a blind structure somewhat like Hold'em while others have an ante. When played with limits (like 5/10), the bet doubles after the draw. Each player receives five cards face down, and play on the first round starts to the left of the big blind with blinds or left of the dealer with antes.

With blinds, each player must call the big blind (some games require the minimum opening bet to be double the big blind), raise, call a raise, reraise, or fold. With antes, each player may check, bet, call the bet, raise, or fold. After this first round of betting, remaining players may trade any number of their cards for new ones (some games limit the number of cards players can draw). The final round of betting starts after the draw with the player to the left of the dealer. There are many different and unique rules that some card rooms use and others do not. It is advisable to read the posted rules and/or ask a floor person for them before entering a Lowball game.


Ace-to-five lowball: A-2-3-4-5 is the best hand in Ace-to-Five Lowball. Flushes and straights do not count against you. Many Ace-to-Five Lowball games are played with a joker, which is used as the lowest possible card. The joker, however, cannot match any card in your hand.

Deuce-to-seven lowball: The best hand in Deuce-to-Seven Lowball is 2-3-4-5-7--not all of the same suit. Flushes and straights count against you. The name deuce is what many players call a two. An ace is considered only as a high card and cannot be used as a low card.

When you want a break from hold'em and stud poker, it's always nice to come back to draw poker. The chance to trade up for better cards has timeless appeal.


For more information about draw poker and other variations, try the following links:

  • To see all of our articles on poker rules and advice, go to our main article on How To Play Poker.
  • Five-card draw is the game most often found on video poker machines. Learn to play the digital version by reading How to Play Video Poker.
  • Should you find a draw poker table in a gaming establishment, you'll want to remember How to Play Poker in a Casino.
  • No matter the game, how you bet can say a lot about your hand. These Poker Betting Tips will help you to spend your money wisely.