Rise and Fall of Competitive 5-Card Poker
5-Card Poker or 5-Card Draw is the simplest poker variation.
Since it’s so easy to play, most new players use it as a starting point before trying out more advanced poker variations. That is why it’s often played in home games and rarely in casinos or tournaments.
Even though this poker variant is not as popular as Texas Hold’em or 7-Card Stud, you can still find it in some online casinos.
A Brief History of 5-Card Draw Poker
5-Card Draw poker traces its roots back to the days before Texas Hold’em. Its long history stretches from the Middle Ages, over the American Old West, to the modern age.
The game of poker originated in Asia and Europe, but it became mainstream after it crossed the Atlantic and came to the US. It started spreading as people migrated to the west. It was particularly popular among gold miners who played it after a hard day’s work.
It wasn’t called 5-Card Draw at the time. In fact, both German and French versions of the name were in circulation — Pochen and Pocue, respectively. Fun fact — Pochen means to brag, to bluff.
Back in the early 1800s, 5-Card Draw only had one round of betting. A smaller poker deck (20 cards) was used, with face cards only. There was no straight or flush in the poker hand rank. Exchange of cards wasn’t allowed either, as there weren’t enough of them. There weren’t many combinations of winning hands, either.
Some people consider this a tipping point in the game development — innovations simply had to be introduced.
The Heyday of 5-Card Draw Poker
In the 1820s, players started using 52-card decks. Due to this change, the second round of betting was added, and the maximum number of players per round increased.
Also, it was now possible to exchange cards, and straight and flush were added to the poker hand ranks. The addition of the drawing element had a massive impact on the popularity of this game, as well.
5-Card Draw was very popular during the Civil War, too. Once the war ended, both Confederate and Union soldiers took the game home with them, which contributed to its expansion to the Wild West.
From there, it spread to the riverboats of Mississippi, which practically became floating poker rooms.
At that time, New Orleans was the epicenter of the 5-Card Draw poker game, as it was the main port on the Mississippi River.
During the first few decades of the 20th century, 5-Card Draw Poker started leaving the limelight, and the 7-Card Stud variant began to develop. 5-Card Draw never regained its original glory, but it has remained a popular game even to this day.
Texas Hold’em Stepping Onto the Scene
For hundreds of years, 5-Card Draw used to be the most played version of poker. However, once Texas Hold’em took over in the 1960s, it became the most popular poker variant.
We can trace the beginnings of Texas Hold’em back to Texas and the early 1900s. Even though this game has its roots in the Lone Star State, it started gaining popularity in the 1960s, during the gambling boom in Las Vegas.
As a result, many players started rushing to the Golden Nugget casino for a game or two.
The popularity of Texas Hold’em has increased even more with the rise of online casinos. Nowadays, players are able to play cheaply and anonymously. Many casinos also provide the demo mode, which is convenient and useful to those who want to master the game before investing their hard-earned cash.
Avid Texas Hold’em players can test their skills in one of the tournaments. The best ones among them may even qualify for the massive World Series of Poker tournament after winning one of the satellite competitions.
In Texas Hold’em, only two hole cards are dealt, which is why it’s easier for the audience to follow and grasp the rules. Thanks to this, the game has gained plenty of media attention. As a result, viewers now have a chance to watch pros go at it at WOSP, EPT, and other major events.
From 2003 to 2006, the industry went through a poker boom. During this period, poker variations, especially Texas Hold’em, became immensely popular worldwide. The number of players doubled in size each year. This snowball effect was triggered by the triumph of Chris Moneymaker at the 2003 WSOP.
Even though there are many other game variations, such as 3-Card Poker, Omega or Pai Gow, Texas Hold’em is still a player favorite. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that almost every online or land-based casino offers this poker variant.
What makes it so interesting, though? This game attracts newcomers because its rules are easy to learn. But just like with any other game, it takes time to truly get the ropes. This is precisely why Texas Hold’em has earned a reputation as a game that is
easy to start but hard to master.
Poker beginners are attracted to this poker variant because of its intuitive game rules. Namely, there are clear guidelines on what to do in each specific game situation. Additionally, there are some mathematical factors to consider, such as the fact that his game has only 169 starting hand combinations. Compared to Omaha Hi-Lo, which has over 16,000 starting hand combinations, Texas Hold’em sounds simple.
Texas Hold’em is what many people who are new to this game think of when poker comes to their minds. Thanks to its popularity, rules that are easy to learn, and the ease of broadcasting, we are sure it won’t be going anywhere for years to come.
5-Card Draw vs. Texas Hold’em
5-Card Draw and Texas Hold’em have similar basic rules. Both feature an ante, betting rounds, and the same hand ranking system. However, the way the games are played varies.
In 5-Card Draw, each player is dealt five cards. After the initial betting round, a player can draw between one and three cards — sometimes even four, if they have an ace. This is followed by a new round of betting, and finally, a showdown occurs.
In Texas Hold’em, every player is dealt two hole cards. Also, there is a preflop betting round that follows a predetermined order of play. Then, three community cards (the flop) are dealt in the second betting round. An additional card (the turn) is dealt in the third betting round, and players receive another one (the river) in the fourth.
In the event that the action closes on the river, the players who are still holding their hole cards need to show their hands in a predefined order. This is how the winner is determined. Every player matches their hole cards with the community cards. The aim is to make the strongest 5-card poker hand combination possible.
5-Card Poker Tips and Tricks
If you’re set on giving 5-Card Poker a try, you might use a helping hand. Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of the game.
- Pay attention to your hands – Getting involved with bad hands will force you into a corner by the Showdown, so don’t rush. Make use of solid hands such as good draws (four-to-a-straight and four-to-flush) and high pocket pairs (QQ+) instead. They’ll help you establish a strong foundation for future play, especially if you’re playing in the early positions.
- Try bluffing – It might sound intimidating to a beginner, but bluffing can get you far in 5-Card Poker. This game offers far less information about your opponents than Hold’em and Omaha, allowing for a lot of flexibility. If you want to give it a shot, try to grasp your opponent’s tendencies, and don’t go overboard when exchanging cards. You’ll give the impression of having a strong hand.
- Follow a few fundamental rules – While there is no perfect strategy, a few tips should work in your favor most of the time when playing 5-Card Poker:
- Drop the other two cards in a three-of-a-kind hand for new ones.
- Never break a two-pair hand — exchange the odd card.
- Always keep the one-pair hand — simply pick up three new cards.
- Hold onto four-to-a-straight or flush draws, swapping only the odd card.
Although Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker version, it’s far from being the only one. Whether you are a new or an advanced player, you should find the variation that suits you best. Once you’ve mastered the basic rules, you can start testing out the appropriate strategies. That way, you will improve steadily with each session.
We recommend starting with 5-Card Draw. This simple variant can serve as a great introduction to the game of poker overall. Plus, you can play it at home with your friends and family.