Draw Poker Rules
A game of Five Card Draw is a perfect example in life of a situation where you should ask what the rules (or ingredients) are before being dealt into the game, even if you've played a game by the same name a hundred times before.
The essence of the game involves two rounds of betting, and a single redraw of cards. To start, players seed the pot by each contributing an Ante bet. Then, cards are dealt one at a time to each player until they all have a five card hand.
Then, the first round of betting takes place, starting with the player on the dealer's left. Once the pot is right (all active players have contributed equally to the pot), players have a chance to drop cards from their hand and redraw to replace them.
Sometimes the number of cards that can be redrawn is limited to three, or four if the player can show an Ace as the sole card he keeps. Others play without limits on the number of cards that can be redrawn.
After the redraw, the second betting round takes place. That is followed by the Showdown, where the best hand wins the pot.
These are not common, nor are they unheard of hands. In an effort to create more playable hands, some draw poker games make use of the following non-standard poker hands.
Skip Striaght - also known as a Kilter or a Dutch Straight. A skip straight consists of five cards in sequence, with a rank skipped between each of them. For example, 2-4-6-8-Ten is a skip straight. 4-6-8-Ten-Queen is also a skip straight.
In the ranking order the skip straight is placed between Three-of-a-Kind and a traditional straight.
Round the Corner Straight - requires five cards to be in sequence, but allows them to wrap around the top and lowest ranks. So, K-A-2-3-4 is a "round the corner" straight.
This hand also ranks between a Three-of-a-Kind and a traditional Straight. When played along with the Skip Stright, the Round the Corner straight ranks higher.
Bobtail - is a four-flush or open-ended straight draw. It does not include gutshot straight draws, or double-gutshot draws. The sequence must be open at either end, as in 4-5-6-7. A hand like A-2-3-4 is not open at either end, and does not qualify as a Bobtail.
In the rankings, a Bobtail beats a single pair, but loses to any two-pair hand.
Popular Draw Poker Games
♠ Jackpots (Jacks or Better to Open)
This is a common form of Five Card Draw. In order to open the initial betting round, a player must have a pair of Jacks, or a better hand. If he doesn't he must pass.
Once someone opens the betting, everyone else is given the chance to call, raise, or fold. The player who opened the betting then shows that he had at least a pair of Jacks to qualify. The redraw takes place.
After the final round of betting, the Showdown determines the winner.
If no one is able to open the betting, players all muck their hands. The chips that were Ante'd to start the hand remain in the pot. A new round is started with a new round of Antes. Deal may be passed to the left, or the same player may deal again.
♠ Progressive Jacks or Better
Plays like Jacks or Better, except that if the hand is "passed out", the next round requires a Queens or better to open betting. Then kings, then aces. Then the opening
hand creeps back down, one step at a time toward Jacks again.
Each new round requires larger antes. The Queens or better requires 2 chips. The kings round requires 3 and so on.
♠ Jacks or Bobtail to Open
Obviously makes use of the alternative poker hand the Bobtail, which is either a four-flush, or an open-ended straight draw. Players can open betting if they hold a pair of Jacks or better, and the Bobtail is a valid poker holding.
Bobtails rank above a single pair, but below any two-pair hand
♠ Canadian Draw
Makes use of the Bobtail holding. In Canadian Draw, the four-flush Bobtail beats the open-ended straight Bobtail.
Both Bobtails rank above a single pair, and below any two-pair hand.
♠ Straight Draw Poker
Probably the earliest form of Draw Poker. Also referred to as "Pass and Out", "Passout", or "Bet or Drop". In this version of the game, there is no minimum hand requirement to open the betting. There is also no option to check during the initial betting round. Players either bet, or fold (drop).
In some places, the option to check is introduced on the second betting round.
♠ Straight Poker
Notice the abscence of the word "draw". There is no redraw in Straight Poker. Players each ante, receive their cards, and partake in a betting round. Once the round of betting is completed, they turn over their hands, with the pot going to the player with the highest hand.
♠ Cold Hands
This is a version of Straight Poker. Once again, there is no redraw, or second betting round. In Cold Hands, players ante, and then receive five cards, one at a time. They are dealt face UP. Highest hand at the table wins the pot.