The Rules of Draw Poker

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Draw Poker is the basic form of Poker and the place to start when introducing new players to the game. It's fairly uncommon these days in the casinos, but it is the form from which all other Poker games are derived.

The essence of Draw Poker is that the player builds a hand from 5 cards. After the initial round of betting the player may discard some or all of their cards and receive replacements. The players cards should never be revealed until the final Showdown, and are only then if absolutely necessary (more on that later). During the game, all cards are dealt and discarded face down.

There are two main things to learn when it comes to Draw Poker. The first is Poker's 5-card hands and their ranking. The second is the course of play including when and how to bet.

Poker Hands

A poker hand is made from the best arrangement of five cards and are ranked as follows, highest first:

  • Royal Flush: A-K-Q-J-10, all same suit
  • Straight Flush: any five consecutive cards, all same suit
  • Four-of-a-Kind: four cards, same value (eg. four 7's)
  • Full House: Three-of-a-Kind and a Pair
  • Flush: any five cards of the same suit
  • Straight: any five consecutive cards
  • Three-of-a-Kind: three cards, same value
  • Two Pair
  • Pair
  • No Pair: five dissimilar cards, mixed suit

There are no wild cards in Draw Poker. All suits are ranked equally.

The Course of Play

A round of Poker begins with determining the Dealer. The Deal usually rotates around the table from the right: if you've just dealt then the person on your left deals next.

The Ante

Once assigned, the Dealer receives the deck and shuffles. Each player pays the "ante" which is a small, flat fee you pay to purchase the right to play that round. If you don't ante it means you are "sitting out". These monies and all others in the game go into the center of the table in a pile called "the pot". Once the antes are in, the Dealer deals one card at a time, face down, to each player around the table, beginning on the Dealer's left. Then the second card is dealt to each player, and so on until each player has 5 cards, all face down.

Pass, Bet or Fold

Players pick up their cards and assess their hand. The player to the Dealer's left opens the betting round by either placing a Bet, indicating a Pass by placing no bet, or Folding by discarding their hand.

Call and Raise

The next player to the left now has the opportunity to Bet. Or they can Fold. If the previous players Passed then they can Pass too or place a Bet of their own. If other players have Bet and they wish to stay in the round they must Call by matching any outstanding bets. They can then Raise by placing a bet of their own.

The betting then moves to the next player on the left, then the next, and so on back to and including the Dealer.

Once the Dealer has placed their bet, the other players must Call any outstanding bets or Fold. Generally speaking, no Raises are permitted once the betting has passed around to the Dealer.

Discarding

Players may now Discard any or all of their cards based on their hopes of building a better hand. Cards are discarded face down and collected by the Dealer.

Replacements

The Dealer now deals each player, starting on the left, their replacement cards, face down.

As before the Player on the Dealer's left begins the betting and the betting proceeds around the table.

Again, the Dealer gets the final Raise. Then everyone else must Call or Fold. Finally, the remaining players are ready for the Showdown.

If at any time there is only one player left in the game they take the pot. This player is encouraged to keep their cards hidden and muck them to the Dealer.

Showdown

After the final betting round, and all the necessary Calls, the players still in the game have reached the Showdown. The player's hands are revealed. The best hand wins and the winner takes the pot.

If there are tied winning hands then the rank of the individual cards determines the winner. For instance Full House of Aces over Jacks beats a Full House of Kings over Jacks. If it's still a tie and there are no kickers (spare cards not used to build the final hand) then the pot is split.

If the rank of the individual cards doesn't determine the winner, then the kicker(s) of higher rank determines the winner. If it's still a tie, the pot is split.

If there are no "name" hands (all players have No Pair), then the highest ranking single card is declared the winning hand. If it comes to a dead tie (no clear winner, all cards same rank) then the pot is split.

Suit is never used to determine a winner in Poker.

Conclusion

While hands and betting are the basic rules, there is much, much more to being a successful Poker player. Poker is not about having the highest ranking hand, it's about winning the biggest pots. How you do that, short of cheating, is your business and that is what makes Poker the beloved game that it is.




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