5 Card Draw
5 Card Draw is simple game with only two betting rounds. Each player is dealt five cards. There is a round of betting, followed by a draw, then a second round of betting, and a showdown.
On the draw, each player can exchange as many cards as they wish for new ones – they can even change all five if they want. If a player declines to draw any cards, they stand pat and action moves to the next player.
On the MPN, we play 5 Card Draw with five players at the table. Each player antes at the start of the hand, so that there is something in the pot to fight over.
Two key concepts come into play when deciding what hands you should enter the pot with in draw. They are position and the gap concept.
Having position in draw games is extremely beneficial, because not only do you get to see what your opponent does on each betting round before you have to act, you also get to see how many cards they draw before you draw yourself. This enables you to make much better decisions than you would if you were first to act.
The gap concept suggests that you need a much stronger hand to call a raise than you do to raise yourself. It’s common to all games but is particularly powerful in draw.
The net result of this is that you will enter a great deal of pots with an opening bet when in late position, whereas in early position you will check or fold some seemingly strong hands.
To open the betting in early position, you generally want at least a pair of Aces, or Two Pair, Kings up. You should consider folding smaller Two Pair hands like Queens up, and pairs weaker than Aces. As strong as these hands look, the chances that you are beat already, combined with the chances that you will be outdrawn by one of your opponents, makes these hands of questionable value.
As your position improves, you can start to open with hands as weak as a pair of Jacks or a medium Two Pair. You can also add in some one-card draws to open-ended Straights and Flushes, which have a lot of potential in No Limit, and the occasional outright steal. Don’t be tempted to call raises with the weak pair and Two Pair hands, however. They don’t have much chance to improve and will rarely win a big pot when they do.
Unless the table is extremely tight, you should not open with two-card Flush or gutshot Straight draws. These and similar hands should hit the muck.
Don’t keep a kicker. If you opened with K♣K♦A♥2♠5♠, you should draw three to the Kings and discard the Ace, deuce and five. It’s a common mistake to keep the Ace, and you should only do so occasionally for deception, and to confuse opponents when you draw two to trips. Drawing three does announce your hand as a pair; however it doesn’t necessarily prevent you from getting paid off after the draw. For example, if you draw three to Aces, and make trips, you may well get paid off by a hand like Kings up or a smaller set of trips. You might even get called by a single pair if your opponent believes you are bluffing.
You should usually draw one card to two pair. Providing you also open with one-card draws to Straights and Flushes and bluff often enough, you should be able to get paid off after the draw by weaker Two Pair hands. If your Two Pair is small and the pot is multi-way, the chances of your hand holding up unimproved are slim, so you may consider drawing three to the larger pair and trying to make trips, which is a hand you can be more confident about.
If you have a pair plus an open-ended Straight or Flush draw, your decision is more difficult. If the pot is multi-way or one or more of your opponents has stood pat, you should consider drawing to the Straight or Flush instead of the pair, hoping to win a big pot after the draw (or lose a small one).
Trips is a more complicated hand, because by drawing two you will usually give away your holding. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to draw only one card to disguise your hand. You actually don’t hurt your chances of improving much by doing so – they drop from 10.36% to 8.51%.
After The Draw
After the draw, a good two pair like Aces up can occasionally be bet for value, but it’s about the weakest hand with which you can do so. A single pair, no matter how big, or two small pair, is basically a bluff-catcher with which you’ll hope to pick off busted Flush and Straight draws.
Be cautious with trips and small Straights if your opponent has stood pat. Depending on how tight your opponent is, these hands may be easy folds if there is a bet. However, in most circumstances you can bet these hands with confidence.
Always consider what range of hands your opponent may have, rather than focusing on the strength of your own cards. Draw is a prime example of a game in which you play the player, not the cards, and there are many bluffing opportunities to be had after the draw.