Five Card Draw Rules You Should Know Before Playing

Five Card Draw Rules You Should Know Before Playing

5 Card Draw What You Need To Know

While draw poker isn’t nearly as popular as Texas Hold’em is these days, the game is enjoying a resurgence in recent years, as we are seeing more and more draw poker variations starting to pop up in mixed games across the country.

After nearly going extinct in the last couple of decades, a new generation of players is being exposed to poker’s pioneering game, and they are quickly realizing that it can be a whole lot of fun! With the game starting to regain popularity, it is highly likely that someday soon you are going to have a chance to take a seat in a mixed game that has at least 1 variation of five card draw poker in the mix.

Whether this is a classic version of the game like five card draw high, Kansas City lowball, or 2-7 lowball, or a newer variation like drawmaha, badugi, Archie, or whatever new wacky version of the game that comes next, you are going to want to know the rules of the game before you take a seat at the table!

There are many variations of draw poker and with each version of the game, you are going to see different five card draw rules. And while you are going to want to pay attention to what game you are actually playing, to stay up to date on the specific rules of that variant, some five card draw rules tend to be universal. In this article, our poker experts here at TheSportsGeek are going to highlight 5 card draw poker rules that you are going to want to be aware of, no matter which variation of draw poker you are playing.

Not all five card draw rules are going to be the same, so for the sake of this article, we are going to focus on the 2022 World Series of Poker rule set. The WSOP is the gold standard when it comes to poker, so using their five card poker rules is our best bet!

Five Card Draw Rules

Knowing the rules of the game is always important when you are playing poker. Chip Reese, a player that many consider to be the greatest player to ever play the game once said that poker rules are made to protect players, not punish them.

And if you want to be fully protected from players trying to take advantage of you at the table, you must know the rules!

In this next section, we are going to highlight TheSportsGeek’s top-5 five card draw rules, to make sure that when you get in the game, you know what to expect. We will get started by taking a look at the rule on acting out of turn.

Acting Out Of Turn

For those of you that have only played poker online, there really is no such thing as playing out of turn, as the computer won’t allow it. But when you are playing live poker, players playing out of turn happens quite frequently.

Sometimes this is just a function of players not paying enough attention, but other times, this is intentional, as a way to try and influence action and gain an advantage over other players.

We already talked about how poker rules are invented to protect players, and the five card draw poker rule on acting out of turn is a perfect example of making sure that players are protected from angle shots. Let’s check out the WSOP rule on acting out of turn below.

The Rule:

Action out of turn will be binding if the action to that participant has not changed. A check, call, or fold is not considered action changing.

If a participant acts out of turn and the action changes, the person who acted out of turn may change their action by calling, raising, or folding and may have their chips returned. Participants may not intentionally act out of turn to influence play before them.

Basically, this rule states that if you act out of turn, you are going to be held to that action. For example, if there are players ahead of you that have not acted and you say that you are going to bet, as long as the action hasn’t changed by the time that it has gotten to you, you are going to be forced to bet when it is your turn. This is even true when it comes to a conditional statement of future action.

Conditional statements of future action are strongly discouraged and may be binding i.e. “If-then” statements such as “if you bet, then I will raise.”

Many times, we will see players make conditional statements, or act out of turn, to try and get you to change your action. If you check, I’ll check. If you call, I’ll raise.

These are statements that are intended to try and influence your decision and are heavily frowned upon.

The action out of turn rule protects you from this angle shot and the next time a player tries to take this shot against you, call the floor, and hold them accountable for it.

Changing Your Draw

When the action is on you to decide how many cards you want to draw, you should do your best to always have your mind made up before you announce the draw to the dealer and the other players at the table. But, every once in a while, a player may do something ahead of you that changes your decision at the last second, or you might just mistakenly announce the wrong number of cards.

Mistakes happen, and it’s not too big of a deal. But what is a big deal, is when a player tries to change their draw intentionally, because of information gathered after they have declared.

A common occurrence of this would be when a player decides to draw 1 card in lowball, and then the next player chooses to stand pat. Knowing that the player behind you is standing pat changes a lot, and sometimes players will try and change their draw based on that additional information.

That is strictly forbidden!

Below are the five card draw rules that pertain to when you can change your draw after declaring.

No card has been dealt off the deck in response to your request, including the burn card
No participant has acted, in either the betting or indicating the number of cards to be drawn, based on the number of cards you have requested

If there has been any action whatsoever after you have announced your draw, you are bound to it. Position is more important in draw poker than in any other type of poker. because you can’t just change your mind after the fact.

While you certainly may wish that your draw was different, once you have decided, and there is action after you, all you can do is regret your decision, not change it.

You Cannot Keep An Exposed Card

For you Texas Hold’em players out there, this rule isn’t anything new, as in Texas Hold’em, you have never been able to keep an exposed card. But that hasn’t always been the case in draw poker, as for many years, the rules for draw poker for an exposed card were different.

When playing lowball draw, which was at one time the most popular poker game in the world, if you got a wheel card (an ace through 5 in Kansas City low ball or a deuce through 7 in 2-7 lowball) you had to keep it.

Now, some of you out there may be thinking, yeah that makes sense, as everyone hates to have to give back a card that they really wanted, but remember, in lowball, pairs are bad, and while that ace might look good coming out of the deck, it doesn’t look very good sitting next to the ace that is already in your hand!

The Rule:

If a card is exposed due to dealer error, a participant does not have an option to take or reject the card.

And even if the card didn’t pair your hand, it still gave the other players information that you didn’t get, as they get to see part of your hand when they weren’t entitled to it. In order to clean this up, just about every poker room has changed their five card draw rule to state that all exposed cards are replaced, no matter what card it might be.

While that can be frustrating at times, it is the right rule. Nobody should be put at the unfair disadvantage of everyone else at the table knowing one of their cards because of a dealer error.

One thing to be careful of here though is that an exposed card is only an exposed card if it is exposed by the dealer. If you accidentally expose one of your cards, you have to keep it, so make sure you are careful when holding your cards, as you don’t want to give away any free information!

Moving Seats

The rule on moving seats is also unique to draw poker and I felt that it should be highlighted, as players that are accustomed to playing other blind-based poker games might be a bit surprised.

We already talked about how position is much more important in draw poker than in other poker variants, and with position being so vital, the rules on when and how you can change seats is different. Normally, in a blind-based poker game, you can move up to two seats away from the button with no penalty. That means that you can be dealt right into the next hand, without having to wait or post.

This is a player-friendly rule that allows players to move around the table without penalty, as long as they aren’t jumping around too far to avoid paying the blinds.

The Rule:

In all multiple blind games, a participant may change seats and move past no more than two active participants without posting the amount of the big blind to receive a hand. If a participant moves more than two active participants, the participant must post the amount of the big blind or wait the appropriate number of hands to come in for free. The exception to this rule is draw games/mixed games where a participant must wait to receive until he/she is in the same relative position prior to moving seats.

But with position being so important in draw poker, and there being fewer players at the table, as most draw games are played 6 or 7 handed, not 9 or 10 handed like Texas Hold’em, you aren’t allowed to move seats without waiting until you are back in the same position relative to the button as where you were before you changed seats.

Please Note:

You can’t even post a big blind to get a hand, as the only option that you have when playing five card draw is to wait it out. If you move two seats, you must wait two hands. If you move three seats, you wait three hands, and so on.

That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be moving seats if it makes sense based on the table dynamic, but just know that if you do move seats, you are going to have to wait to get back into the action.


This final rule is the most important rule that we are going to talk about today.

Misdeals are part of the game and the rules governing misdeals are much different for draw poker games than any other type of poker game. With these rules being so unique, I felt that they should be spelled out specifically, so you know when it is appropriate for a misdeal to be called.

The following circumstances cause a misdeal, provided attention is called to the error before substantial action occurs and players have acted on their hands.

The first or second card of the hand has been dealt face up or exposed through dealer error
Two or more cards have been exposed by the dealer
Two or more extra cards have been dealt in the starting hands of a game
An incorrect number of cards have been dealt to a participant, except the button may receive one more card to complete a starting hand
The button was out of position
The first card was dealt to the wrong position
Cards have been dealt out of the proper sequence
Cards have been dealt to an empty seat or a participant not entitled to a hand
A participant has been dealt out who is entitled to a hand. This participant must be present at the table or have posted a blind or ante

Making sure that all players that are supposed to be in the hand are actually in the hand and that all cards are dealt properly without being exposed is of paramount importance in five card draw poker, which is why we see so many more reasons to call a misdeal than most other poker games.

Please Note:

The vast majority of today’s poker dealers deal mainly Texas Hold’em or Omaha on a daily basis. Draw games are the minority in just about every card room you are going to play in, which is going to increase errors.

It is hard to blame a dealer for making a mistake in a game that they rarely get to deal, so you are going to see these misdeals happen somewhat often, and knowing when a misdeal should be called is a great way to protect yourself in the game.


Draw poker is only going to become more and more popular as new players try the game. Now that you know all of these five draw poker rules, it is time for you to take a seat at the table! Are you still a bit apprehensive to give a new game a try?

The best way to dip your toes into the draw poker waters is to try it out online first! Online poker is a great training ground for new players and trying the game online first is a fantastic way to gain the experience that you need to play the live version on your next trip to the casino.

If you are looking for a place to play draw poker online, make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s poker sites page, where we bring our reader’s exclusive offers at all of the top online poker rooms. Thanks for reading and good luck playing five card draw poker!


Author: Frank Miller