Draw Poker makes the game of Poker much more interesting because you are not stuck with one hand. Near the beginning of the game, you are entitled to take cards out of your initial hand and exchange them with cards from the deck.
Draw Poker is played with a standard 52-card deck and the ideal amount of players is seven. You can play with as many as eight or more, but you may find that's just too many people for a good game.
To establish who deals first, follow the same guidelines as outlined in Straight Poker. When you have a dealer, he or she deals five cards face-down to each player starting with the player to his or her left. The person to the left of the dealer starts the betting.
Did you know that the term “jackpot” originated from Poker? In an effort to liven up the game, some versions of Poker pots were designated “jack” pots. This meant the stakes could be “jacked” up by raising the limit and increasing the ante—thus a bigger pot and a more interesting game. Later, this rule was taken a step further to say that players could not start betting unless they had a Jack (or better) in their hand—thus play rested in the hand of the Jack, making the pot a “jackpot.” This is still the rule in Draw Poker today.
Ready, Set, Bet
When the cards are dealt and each player looks at his or her hand, the betting commences. Betting begins with the player to the dealer's left. This player may open, check, or fold:
- The first player may open with a bet as long as he or she has a Jack or higher card in his or her hand. If the player bets, then the play moves to the next player and that player must bet or fold.
- The first player may check, which means that he or she does not make a bet but reserves the right to do so later. If the first player checks, the second player may also check. Checking can continue until someone finally opens. Once someone places a bet, no more checks are allowed—each player must then fold, call, or raise.
- If all players check on the first round, the deal is said to be “passed out.” At this time, each player antes another chip (or coin) and the cards are redealt. The player to the left of the first dealer deals the next hand.
You can check even if you have a Jack or better in your hand, but be careful, because if everyone checks, then the cards must be redealt and a new hand played.
After the first betting round (which works the same way as in Straight Poker), and all the bets have been equalized (meaning everyone pays what they owe to the pot based on the previous bet), you are entitled to swap cards from your hand with the cards remaining in the deck. The exchange starts with the player to the left of the dealer. Let's say you want to exchange three cards—take the three cards from your hand and place them face-down on the table and announce how many cards you want to exchange. The dealer takes an equivalent amount of cards from the top of the deck and places them face-down in front of you. The dealer discards and draws last. Players who have folded are not permitted back in this hand, so they cannot exchange any cards.
Just like you need to know what version of Poker you are going to be playing, you should also be aware of the various nuances of the version you are playing. In other words, be sure players are aware that “to stand” means “to knock,” otherwise others might think you're a little weird to be knocking on the table for no apparent reason.
To “stand pat” means you decide not to exchange any cards. You can either say “I stand” or you can knock on the table when your turn comes.
The player who opens may discard to the pot the specific card (or cards) that allowed him to open in the first place. This card is still considered part of your hand but it is laid down as a kind of proof that you actually had the right to open the betting (remember—you had to have a Jack or higher). This is done at the time of the open and may be referred to later if anyone questions your right to open.
You may find when the exchange of cards (the draw) is underway that there are not enough cards remaining in the deck to handle all the players' needs. In this case, the dealer will have to shuffle the discards. The discard of the opening card and the discards of the player next in line for the draw are not included in the shuffle.
When the draw is complete, the player who opens must bet or check—if this player folds, the next person to the left must bet or check. Each player must then bet or check in order of his or her turn. The betting process works the same as in Straight Poker—you may call, raise, or fold. You must equalize the pot after the betting interval (pay the pot what you owe according to the preceding bet). When all players have checked, or when the pot has been equalized after the betting interval, you show your cards in the showdown. The highest-ranking hand wins the pot.
As I mentioned above, the opener must be able to prove on demand that he or she had the card that allowed him or her to open the betting—this is usually done by discarding that card to the pot after the open is made. If you can't prove that you had the right card, then your hand is considered foul. All active players (ones that have not folded) may withdraw all their chips from the pot (except their ante). The ante contributions stay in the pot for the next hand.