- Game Type
- 5, 6, 7, 8
Principal Forms of Draw Poker
There are several methods of playing Draw Poker, and they differ mostly in the rules governing betting. The essential features of the game, common to all varieties, are as follows:
Each player is dealt five cards face down, one at a time in rotation, beginning on the dealer's left. After the deal, there is a betting interval. The player on the dealer's left has the first right or obligation to bet.
When the first betting interval has ended, each active player in turn, beginning with the player on the dealer's left, may discard one or more cards, and the dealer then gives him, from the top of the undealt portion of the pack, face down, as many cards as he discarded. This is the draw. A player may, if desired, "stand pat" (draw no cards). Unless otherwise stated, the maximum number of cards a player may draw is three or, if the player shows an ace to all the other players, he may draw four. (In some games, especially in casinos, a player may draw four cards without exposing an ace, or may draw five cards - a fresh hand.) Note that, unlike some other card games, the player must always discard before taking any new cards for his draw.
After the draw, there is another betting interval, followed by a showdown.
All games of Draw Poker fall into one of two classes, depending on the betting rules:
Pass and Out
Also called Pass Out or Bet or Drop. In this method, whenever it is a player's turn, and if there has been no bet before him, he must bet the minimum allowed or drop out. In most games, this rule applies only before the draw. After the draw, a player may check. In some games, however, each player must bet or drop out before and after the draw. This procedure is followed in casinos where the House runs the game.
Pass and Back In
At his first turn, a player may pass (check) rather than bet, provided no previous player has made a bet. The first player to make a bet is said to open. Once the pot is opened, each player in turn has another chance to stay in or drop out. After the draw, a player may check. This procedure is common in home games and other social games, and is the one used in the versions of Poker explained later in this chapter.
The players must decide in advance which of two methods they will adopt for the ante: Either each player antes one chip before the deal or the dealer antes one chip for all the players in the game before dealing. Thus, if there are six players in all, the dealer's ante is six chips.
To create more playable hands and enliven the game, many players give special value to one or more hands that are not among the traditional Poker hands:
Skip straight (also called Dutch straight or Kilter)
Five cards in an alternate sequence, such as Q, 10, 8, 6, 4, or K, J, 9, 7, 5. This hand beats three of a kind but loses to a straight.
A sequence such as 3, 2, A, K, Q. Note that the hand 5, 4, 3, 2, A beats 4, 3, 2, 1, A, K, which beats 3, 2, A, K, Q, and so on. When both skip straights and round-the-corner straights are played, the skip straight ranks higher.
Bobtail or Fourflush
A four-card flush or a four-card straight in sequence with "both ends open." An example of the latter is 8, 7, 6, 5, with the fifth card not in sequence; A,K, Q, J is not a bobtail, because only a single card, the 10, will fill it; 9, 8, 6, 5 is not, because only a 7 will fill it, this being called an "inside straight." The bobtail beats a pair but loses to two pair.
Laws of Draw Poker
The Draw. After each player has exactly called the highest previous bet without raising or has dropped, the first betting interval ends. The dealer picks up the undealt portion of the pack, and each active player beginning on his left may, in turn, discard one or more cards. Then, the dealer gives him that number of cards, face down, from the top of the pack. A player need not draw unless he so chooses.
If the dealer is an active player, he must announce how many cards, if any, he is drawing. At any time following the draw and before the first player in turn bets or checks in the final betting interval, any active player may ask any other active player how many cards he drew. The latter player must answer, but the questioner has no redress if the answer is incorrect. It is considered unethical, however, to give an incorrect answer intentionally.
The dealer may not deal the bottom card of the pack. If the pack exclusive of this card does not suffice for the draw, the dealer assembles all cards previously discarded, plus the bottom card of the original pack, shuffles these cards, and offers them for a cut. Then, he continues dealing. The opener's discards and the discards of any player yet to draw are excluded from the reassembled pack if they have been kept separate and can be identified.
Wrong number of cards. If the dealer gives a player more or fewer cards than he asks for, the error must be corrected if the player calls attention to it before he has looked at any of the cards. Unless a card has been served to the next active player in turn, the dealer must correct the error by supplying the missing cards or restoring the excess to the top of the pack, as the case may be. If the next player has been served, the player with the incorrect hand may discard the surplus cards. If he has already discarded and the draw is insufficient to restore his hand to five cards, his hand is foul. If the player has looked at any card of the draw and the entire draw would give him an incorrect number of cards, his hand is foul.
Card exposed. If any card is exposed in the draw, whether or not it was faced in the pack, the player must accept the first such card, but any additional exposed card is dead and is placed among the discards. After the dealer has served all other active players, he deals any additional cards due from the
top of the pack.
Draw out of turn. If a player allows a player on his left to draw out of turn, he must play without drawing, or drop. If he has already discarded any card, his hand is foul.
A player may correct a slip of the tongue in stating the number of cards he wishes to draw, but only if the dealer has not yet given the player the number of cards he first requested.
If a player discards a number of cards that would make his hand incorrect after the dealer gives him as many cards as he asked for, his hand is fouled.
Showing openers. The player who opens must prove that he held a legal hand of five cards including the strength (if any) required to open. If the player is in the showdown, he must show his entire hand face up. In any other case, before discarding his entire hand, he must show his openers face up and his remaining cards, if any, face down.
Splitting openers. The player who opened may split his openers (discard
one or more cards essential to them) and need not announce that he is doing so. He may put his discard in the pot, face down, for reference later. For example, having opened with Q, Q, J, 10, 9, he may discard the Q and draw one card.
False openers. If it is determined at any time that a player opened without proper openers, or that his hand contains too many cards, the player's hand is foul, and all chips he has bet are forfeited to the pot.
If false openers are discovered before the draw, any other player in turn to the offender's left (excluding those who passed in their first turns) may open, and play continues; but any player except the offender may withdraw from the pot any chips he put in after the pot was falsely opened. If no one can open, the rest of the pot remains for the next deal.
If false openers are discovered after every player but the offender has dropped, the other players may withdraw from the pot any chips they put in after the pot was falsely opened.
If false openers are discovered after the draw, and if any player remains active, play continues; and the pot goes to the highest hand at the showdown, whether or not any player had openers. (If there is no hand at the showdown that is not foul, the pot remains and goes to the winner of the next pot. Regardless of other circumstances, a hand that has dropped can never
win a pot.)
Standard Draw Poker
Benchmarking from the rules outlined for basic Draw Poker, when playing Standard Draw Poker, the player who makes the first bet does not need any minimum hand in order to bet. In other words, he can open the betting without even a pair. Once the betting round is complete and players have drawn their cards, the second betting round begins and the first hand again has the opportunity to bet.
Some players vary this game slightly by playing a "blind opening", whereby the first hand must open the pot and (usually) the next player must raise. This game is played "pass and out" (described above) before the draw, but usually "pass and back in" after the draw. This is the form of Poker played in private clubs when Draw Poker is selected instead of Stud. A variant of the blind opening is English or Australian Poker, in which a player who raises can double the preceding bet. (Raising in this game is often called "doubling".)
This version of Draw Poker is played as standard draw poker, but features a second draw after the second betting round, and then there is a third (final) betting round. Obviously, because of the extra betting round, the pots will be bigger, and with two draws, the final hands of the players will invariably be better.
This is one of the most popular versions of Draw Poker, especially in the western United States. It is ideal for players who constantly complain about being dealt poor hands because in Lowball, the lowest hand wins the pot! The ace is always low, so that two aces are the lowest pair. Straights and flushes do not count, so the lowest possible hand is 5, 4, 3, 2, A, regardless of suits. This hand is called a "wheel" or a "bicycle" - named after Bicycle♣ brand playing cards. In some games, 6, 4, 3, 2, A is the lowest hand possible, though the game really should be played with the "wheel" as the lowest.
There are no minimum requirements for opening the pot, and after the draw, a player may check. The betting for this round always begins with the active player nearest the dealer's left.
A satisfactory Lowball hand is 9-high (such as 9, 7, 5, 4, A), and a good low hand is 8-high. It is rare for a good player to have to draw two or three cards; most of the time, the winner will have stayed pat or drawn just one card.
Lowball can also be played as a version of Stud Poker.
This game is for three to five players. Each player antes one chip, and the dealer gives each player five cards as in Draw Poker. The undealt cards are placed in the center to form the stock. The player to the dealer's left draws the top card and then discards one card face up, and thereafter each player in turn may draw the top card of the stock or the last previous discard, as in various games of Rummy.
Any player, after drawing and before discarding, may knock. He does so by knocking on the table and discarding. Then each other player has one turn to draw and discard until play comes back to the knocker, who does not have another turn. Each player, after drawing, may either drop out, immediately paying the knocker one chip, or he may stay in.
When the last player before the knocker has drawn and discarded, there is a showdown among all who have stayed in. If the knocker has the high hand, everyone who stayed in pays him two chips. If another player ties the knocker, they divide the winnings except for chips paid to the knocker by the players who dropped out. If the knocker does not have the high hand, he pays two chips to every player who stayed in, and the player with the high hand gets the antes.
Bonuses are popular but they need not be used unless the players agree. If there is a bonus, everyone pays it, even a player who has dropped: two chips for knocking and winning without drawing a card; four chips for winning with a royal flush; two chips for winning with any other straight flush; one chip for winning with four of a kind.
In a similar version, many people play so that anyone may knock whenever it is his turn. There is then a showdown without further drawing, and the high hand wins the pot, which consists only of the antes. In another version, each player must put another chip in the pot every time he draws a card.