Draw poker is any poker variant in which each player is dealt a complete hand before the first betting round, and then develops the hand for later rounds by replacing cards.
The descriptions below assume that you are familiar with the general game play of strip poker, and with hand values (both high and low variations). They also make no assumptions about what betting limits or betting structure is used. In home games, it is typical to use an ante, and betting always begins with the player to the dealer's left. In casino play, it is more common to use blinds; the first betting round thus begins with the player to the left of the big blind, and subsequent rounds begin with the player to the dealer's left, thus draw games are very positional.
Some sample deals below will assume that a game is being played by four players: Alice, who is dealing in the examples, Bob, who is sitting to her left, Carol to his left, and David to Carol's left.
Strip Poker - Draw Poker - Five Card Draw
This is often the first poker variant learned by most players, and is very common in home games although it is now quite rare in casino and tournament play. Two to eight players can play. Learn more about Five Card Draw Poker.
Strip Poker - Draw Poker - California Lowball
This was the primary poker game played in California during the heyday of Gardena in the 1970s. It is still played today, though its popularity has somewhat lessened since the introduction of stud poker and community card poker to the state.
Played as above, using ace-to-five low hand values, with a single joker in the deck. Always played with blinds rather than antes, so players may not check on the first betting round (but may on the second round). A player with a 7-high hand or better who checks after the draw forfeits his right to win any money placed in the pot after the draw. (In other words, you may not check a "seven" unless you intend to fold when someone else bets). Another common rule in low-limit games is that a player who checks on the second betting round may not subsequently raise on that round. This latter rule is never used in games with a pot limit or no limit betting structure.
Strip Poker - Draw Poker - High/Low with Declare
This is common in home games but is rarely found in casinos today. Played as are other versions of five-card draw, but after the second betting round and before the showdown, there is a simultaneous declaration phase. Each player takes two chips from his stack and takes them under the table, bringing up a closed fist that contains either no chips (indicating that the player intends to win the low half of the pot), one chip (indicating that the player intends to win the high half), or two chips (indicating that he intends to scoop). When everyone has brought up the closed fist, the players all open their hands simultaneously to reveal their choices. If any player shows two chips, and his hand is the best low and the best high, he scoops the pot. Otherwise, half of the pot goes to the player with the highest hand who declared high, and the other half to the player with the lowest hand of those who declared low. There is no qualifying hand to win either high or low, and if no one declares in one direction, the full pot is awarded in the other (for example, if all players declare low, the low hand wins the whole pot rather than half). A player who declares for a scoop must win both ends outright, with no ties. For example, if a player declares scoop, has the lowest hand clearly but ties for high, he wins nothing. The other player with the same high hand wins the high half of the pot and the next-lowest hand wins low (assuming he declared low--if no other player declared low, the high hand who declared high wins the whole pot).
This game can be played with deuce-to-seven low or ace-to-six low hand values, but in that case it is nearly impossible to scoop (though you can still win the whole pot if everyone declares the same direction).
Double-draw and Triple-draw
Any game above can be played with two or three draw phases and therefore three or four betting rounds. Double-draw California lowball is a particularly good game. Triple draw lowball, either ace-to-five or deuce-to-seven, has gained some popularity among serious players. The 2004 World Series of Poker included a deuce-to-seven triple-draw lowball event.
Another variation that can be applied to any game above, but that is especially suited to lowball. On the initial deal, only four cards are dealt to each player. A betting round follows, then each player draws one more card than he discards, completing his hand to five cards. Then the final betting round and showdown. Note that it is impossible to be dealt a "pat" hand, that is, a hand (such as a straight or flush) that is complete before the draw.
Shotgun ("Roll 'em out" and "Skinny Minnie")
This is a draw game that plays much like a stud game. First five cards are dealt to each player, followed by a betting round, and a draw. Now, in place of a second round and showdown, there is a rollout phase, which begins with the players arranging their five cards in any chosen order, placing them face down in front of themselves. Each player's top card is now revealed, followed by a betting round. Then each player reveals his next card, followed by a betting round. Then a third card is revealed, followed by a betting round, a fourth card, a betting round, and finally a showdown. Players may not change the order of their cards at any time during the rollout phase. Learn more about poker hands and poker slang.
This game can be played for high or low, but plays best at high-low split, in which case it is called "Skinny Minnie".
Spit in the Ocean
This might be classified as a hybrid draw/Community card game, but it is placed here because it plays mostly as a draw game. On the initial deal, each player is dealt four cards, and then a single card is dealt to the center of the table face up. This card plays as if it were the fifth card in every player's hand. It is also a wild card, and every other card of its rank is also wild. The first betting round is then played, followed by a draw in which each player replaces cards from his hand with an equal number, so that each player still has only four cards in hand. A final betting round is followed by a showdown. High-hand values are used.
Here's a sample deal: Alice deals four cards to each player, then deals the next card face up to the center of the table. it is the 6 of diamonds, and this makes all 6-spot cards wild. Bob opens for $1, Carol raises to $2, David folds, Alice and Bob call. Bob discards two cards, and receives two replacements. Carol draws one card, and Alice draws one. Bob checks, Carol bets $2, Alice raises to $4, Bob folds, Carol re-raises to $6, and Alice calls. The cards in Carol's hand are Q-Q-6-4. Because the 6 in her hand and the one on the board are wild, her hand is four queens. Alice's hand contains K-J-9-7, all spades. With the shared wild card, this gives her a flush, which loses to Carol's four queens.
Seven cards are dealt to each player. Before the first betting round, each player examines his hand, and removes exactly three cards from his hand and places them on the table to his left. After each person has thus discarded, he picks up the cards discarded by his right-hand neighbor and places them in his hand (thus, each player will have given three cards to his left-hand neighbor). It is important that each player discard before looking at the cards he is to receive. After the first pass, there is a betting round. Then a second pass occurs, each player passing two cards to his right. A second betting round is followed by a third pass, each player passing one card to his left. Finally, a fourth betting round and a showdown, in which the player with the best five-card high hand he can make out of the seven in his hand wins the pot.
In some casual games, the showdown is replaced by a rollout phase, as described above in "Shotgun". This makes a total of eight betting rounds in the game, which generally destroys any chance for skillful play in the later rounds.
Strip poker is a variant of the card game of poker, in which the rules require players to remove articles of clothing in response to various events. The game can be played based on any variety of poker (the most common is 5 card draw and Texas Hold'em), with the same number of players, dealing and betting rules, etc.
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