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Mixed Game Poker Strategy: Hand Reading in Draw Poker

Posted at 12:26 2010-10-16

Are you ready to go old school today? I mean really old school. A game that you rarely see spread anymore inside a casino, but is still found in home games and even online is Five Card Draw. The object is simple, you try and make the best five-card poker hand. You can discard one time and take up to five cards.

For those new to the game, you may notice that some people practically know what you have based on your drawing habits. Today, let's take a look at what many draws typically mean. Note that these standards may not apply to a table full of expert draw players. However, in most normal games, these will work just fine.

Drawing All Cards or Four Cards

This is pretty straight forward. You basically had absolutely nothing in your hand and you are praying to get lucky. In many home games, you can only take up to four cards, and you must have an ace in your hand. Typically, a player holding one card is holding an ace.

Drawing Three Cards

A three card draw is a guaranteed pair. Even if it isn't, I am assuming a pair. This person is clearly set mining. If the player raised pre-draw, many times this will be a high pair, and probably kings or aces.

Drawing Two Cards

I base my call on what a two-card drawer is holding based on their pre-draw betting. Did they raise? If so, they likely have trips already. Did they call a healthy raise? They may have a small set, like twos or threes. If they did not raise pre-draw, then chances are this person is holding a pair and an ace. Some will hold a pair and any face card.   If a player was in the blind to no raise, then that player could have anything and hoping to get lucky. It usually is not wise to draw two cards to a straight or a flush in Draw unless you are in the blinds.

Drawing One Card

This is truly the tricky draw that you have to watch for. Putting a player on the hand is part knowing the player and watching their pre-draw betting. If the player bet out pre-draw and isn't the type to raise on a draw, then assume they have two pair. If they just limp in and draw one, then you can put them on a straight or flush draw. One card draws are good hands to bluff on after the draw. If you draw one and bet out, especially after limping, you will more times than not, sell that you have hit your draw.

Drawing No Cards

This is what is known as tapping pat or having a pat hand. In this case, you only want to battle if you have a strong hand. A high straight or better is good criteria. On a rare occasion you may see someone tap pat as a bluff, but the risk isn't worth trying to pick off a bluff unless they are tapping pat every other hand.

If you have picked up on anything, it should be that many people play Draw Poker fairly straight forward. For many, this game is purely recreational and very few view it as a profitable game. Stay away from Draw games with wild cards if you are looking to make money as it makes the game predominately a game of luck. Also, realize that more experienced and especially expert players know all of the above and will not play straight forward. Of course, unless you are playing for reasonable stakes on PokerStars, the above should give you an edge over many new and beginner Draw players.

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To draw or not to draw? That is the question! To draw or not to draw? That is the question!

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