Poker has been one of the favorite table games ever since the concept of gambling was first established. It is the perfect game to play among friends, as a house game or in Las Vegas, as a casino game.

Five Card Draw used to be the most popular poker variant, and it maintained that status for quite some time. If you had a habit of visiting casinos in the past, you must remember the time when gamblers frequently played Five Card Draw. Nowadays, people usually enjoy this variation of poker at home or online, playing video poker machines. If you are curious about the reasons, keep reading. I am about to tell you the story of the Five Card Draw.

Five Card Draw: Then and Now

As I have already stated, Five Card Draw was among the most popular poker games. However, you can seldom find the live version of the game today. Before we get into the discussion about the causes of that change, I will briefly review the characteristics, rules, and course of Five Card Draw.

Five Card Draw: What Makes It Unique

This particular form of poker offers a unique opportunity, which is why it caused a boom on the gambling scene. As the name of the game suggests, you have the chance to draw the replacement cards. You can dispose of some of your cards and replace them with new ones at a certain point. This option can enhance your chances of winning, as you are given the second opportunity to form a winning hand.

Nevertheless, the possibility Five Card Draw provides you with comes with certain restrictions. You cannot exchange as many cards as you want chasing after the royal flush — the highest possible hand in poker. In most cases, you are allowed to replace up to three cards. However, you can happen to be offered the opportunity to discard one additional card, but only under the condition that the card that stays in your hand is an Ace or a wild card. Seldom will you find yourself at a place that allows you to dispose of all of your cards and request new ones. Under such circumstances, you will be given four cards, and then you will wait for the fifth one until your opponents finish drawing theirs.

The most common hand in Five Card Draw is three of a kind. Therefore, many players aim for it, given that full houses, straights, and flushes are not that frequent. However, if you notice that one of your opponents is drawing only one card, chances are they are striving for one of those three combinations.

The Course of the Game

The rules of the game and the order of events within a round are not difficult to understand and memorize. The hand ranking remains the same. Therefore, Five Card Draw does not differ from any other poker variant in that regard. Learn the value of cards and hands by heart. That way, you will have already made a huge step towards your goal — which is winning the game.

Once the dealer has delivered five cards to each one of you, the player to their left opens the betting round. When you estimate the value of your hand, you make one of the well-known poker moves — check, call, raise or fold, depending on whether you want to participate in the round in progress or not. It also depends on how much you want to wager in case you do. Afterwards, the part that characterizes the game takes place. The players decide whether they choose to stand pat or draw a certain number of cards. This is followed by another betting round. The game ends with a showdown — the players reveal and compare their hands and the highest one wins the pot.

The World Series of Poker

Five Card Draw originated in the 1830s, not long after the 52-card deck became a standard. Actually, the mentioned deck was precisely the reason that allowed drawing in a 5-card game.

Five Card Draw was at the peak of its glory from 1978 to 1982, during the World Series of Poker. That is the most notable loose Five Card Draw played at a casino. The game implied a high betting limit, and an initial $5000 buy-in, before dropping to $1000.

All the games were ante, which dictates placing bets before the cards are dealt. Nowadays, this form is more common among friends in comparison to the blind game.

The contest I am talking about is rather famous, even today. You can still find the reports about it and the interviews conducted at the time online. In fact, had you been there during the contest, you would have never imagined Five Card Draw falling into oblivion. Nevertheless, after only 30 years or so, the situation on the gambling scene is noticeably different.

The Fadeaway of Five Card Draw

Even though it seemed that Five Card Draw would forever rule the gambling scene, the circumstances drastically changed. As the poker variant known as Texas Hold ‘Em began to gain popularity, Five Card Draw was becoming more and more neglected.

In the 2000s, the expansion of movies, TV shows, and books that have gambling as the main theme had a great impact on the world of gambling, poker being no exception. Texas Hold ‘Em is not that much more complicated in comparison to Five Card Draw, but it seems like it offers more variety. In addition to that, many strategy books regarding this variation were written in the past two decades due to its rising popularity. When you take all of that into consideration, it really does not come as a surprise that Texas Hold ‘Em has taken the place of Five Card Draw at casinos all over Las Vegas.


Although Five Card Draw is scarce at brick-and-mortar casinos in this day and age, that does not mean you cannot play it. The changes that happen to gambling globally cannot prevent you from gathering a group of friends and playing good old Five Card Draw in the comfort of your own home.

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