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How to Play Five Card Draw

Texas Hold 'Em became all the rage in the U.S. in the 1970s, but before that, Five Card Draw—first made popular during the Civil War—reigned supreme for more than a century.


  • Step 1: Decide betting rules Decide on your betting rules. What will be the ante? Is there a betting limit? Is there a limit to how many times a bet can be raised? If so, what is it?
  • TIP: To keep the game fair, establish a modest limit to prevent players with infinite funds from sweeping the pot with huge bets. To keep the game interesting, increase the limit in the final round of betting.
  • Step 2: Ante up Each player antes up by placing their ante in the middle of the table.
  • Step 3: Choose dealer Choose a dealer. One way to do this is to deal cards around the table face-up. The player to get the highest card is the dealer.
  • Step 4: Deal cards The dealer deals the cards face-down around the table, starting with the player to his or her left and continuing clockwise. Cards are dealt one at a time until each player has five cards.
  • Step 5: Open betting Each player assesses his or her cards, and the first player to the left of the dealer opens the betting. That player may also say 'Check,' which passes the option to open the betting to the next player. Checking means that you don't want to start the betting but want to see what happens without quitting.
  • Step 6: Make choice When a bet is made, each player has three choices: fold, call, or raise.
  • Step 7: Ask for new cards If 1 player remains after every player has had the chance to call, raise, or fold, they are the winner. Otherwise, the dealer asks if you want new cards. Each player selects up to 3 cards to discard and places them face-down on the table. The dealer will then deal new cards face-down to bring each hand back to a total of five cards.
  • Step 8: Bet & show Once each players has had a chance to discard, there is a final round of betting, after which the remaining players show their hands.
  • TIP: One high-stakes variation is to keep the betting going indefinitely until one of the players calls another, stopping any further betting and forcing all remaining players to show their hands (after they have seen or matched any raises). The last player to raise the stakes (who has been "called") shows his cards first.
  • Step 9: Winning The player with the highest five-card poker hand wins the pot.
  • FACT: Poker originated from a 16th-century Spanish card game called '"primero"—later versions were called "poque" in French and "pochen" in German.

You Will Need

  • A standard deck of playing cards
  • Poker chips or money to bet with
  • A group of 2 to 8 players

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