What to Hold and What to Fold in 5-card Draw Poker

What to Hold and What to Fold in 5-card Draw Poker

When evaluating 5-card draw starting hands, there are a few factors that you need to keep in mind. 5-card draw Poker provides players with a very limited set of information to base their decisions on, so it’s important to know what to look for.

One such piece of information to be aware of is the betting tendencies of the other players. Paying attention to how they bet with certain hands can give you a distinct advantage when you’re deciding how you want to play your own hand, especially hands that are passable but not fantastic.

Another factor worth understanding is position. Having the opportunity to make decisions after other players have already made theirs provides you with more information. Seeing how opponents discard and bet ahead of you allows you to determine the possible state of the table, which in turn allows you to make stronger decisions to keep ahead.

Above all else, the most important and reliable piece of information available to you are the cards you’re holding. In 5-card draw, your starting hand is crucial in determining how to play out a given scenario. When you decide how to progress with your starting hand, whether you discard several cards, no cards or fold, you provide crucial information about how strong a player you are to your opponents, so it’s important to make solid decisions in order to keep the table guessing. You don’t want to appear too strong, or expose yourself as a weak player. Below, we’ll go over some 5-card draw beginner tips, and learn a few of the different types of hands you may encounter.

Pat Hands

A very strong opening hand is called a pat hand. A pat hand is any opening hand with a strong set of cards, without the need to discard to seek better, more playable cards. An example of a pat hand would be opening up with a straight. Holding without drawing is known as ‘standing pat’. When you stand pat, other players will instantly become aware that the odds of your hand being strong are high. As a result, they aren’t as likely to play into your hand. Players who do continue to play into your hand, particularly after drawing, may believe they’ve assembled a stronger hand, or they may be attempting to call a bluff. It is for this reason that it’s important to open up aggressive with a strong bet before you give away too much information.

Premium Pairs

A premium pair is a pair of high rank, specifically, Aces, Kings and Queens. Learning to play premium pairs is key in developing any 5-card draw strategy. The most common strong draw you will encounter are premium pairs. Aces and Kings are strong from most positions on the table, while Queens aren’t quite as safe in early positions.

Other pairs to watch out for are Jacks and 10’s. While their rank is quite high, they aren’t high enough to consistently rely on in order to take the pot.

Trips (Three of a Kind)

Three of a Kind, more commonly referred to as Trips in 5-card draw Poker, are strong before and after the draw. Rank is important with Trips because other players will often pursue Trips themselves, frequently keeping a pair from the initial draw and seeking the third piece after discarding.

Don’t over commit

When you’re dealt your opening hand, it may contain a nearly complete pat, a flush for example. Be careful to consider whether or not it’s worth drawing in an effort to complete it. You may be tempted to discard the pieces that don’t fit the flush, hoping to complete it on the draw. It’s important to consider what other options you may have as over committing on a hand that has little value without a very specific, unlikely final piece could expose you as a weak player.

Have a keen eye for detail

Pay close attention to how the game is progressing. Learning how each individual player bets, what risks they often take, or if they’re a safe player, will provide you with extraordinarily useful information. A player who can manage all of these details while carefully considering their own moves will slowly takeover a game with the right decisions.

Hit the tables

Once you have a solid beginner 5-card draw Poker strategy, it’s important to practice, and the best way to do so is by playing with other live players. These beginner tips should get you off on the right foot, and, with a bit of luck, before long you’ll be dominating the tables.