Draw poker is very popular in home poker games but is now quite rare in casino and tournament play. When played skillfully, it can become monotonous. The lowball variations, are more interesting poker games. Two to eight players can play.
Play begins with each player being dealt five cards, one at a time, all face down. The remaining deck is placed aside, often protected by placing a chip or other marker on it. Players pick up the cards and hold them in their hands, being careful to keep them concealed from the other players. The first betting round occurs at this point, starting with the player to the dealer's left. If more than one player remains after this round, the draw phase begins.
Each player specifies how many of his cards he wishes to replace, and discards that many from his poker hand. The remaining deck is retrieved and, after a burn card (a card dealt from the top of a deck, and placed aside unused) is dealt, each player in turn is dealt the same number of cards he discarded, so that each player again has five cards. It is important that each player discards the cards he wishes to replace before he takes any replacements, and that he take the same number of replacements as he discarded. A second betting round occurs after the draw phase, followed by a showdown if more than one player remains.
A common house rule in some places is that a player may not replace more than three cards, unless he draws four cards while keeping an ace (or wild card). This rule is only needed for low-limit social poker games where many players will stay for the draw, and helps to avoid depletion of the remaining deck. In more serious poker games such as those played in casinos, it is unnecessary and generally not used.
A rule that is used by many casinos is that a player is not allowed to draw five consecutive cards from the deck. If a player wishes to replace all five of his cards, he is given four of them in turn, the other players are given their draws, and then the dealer returns to that player to give him his fifth replacement card (if no later player drew, it is necessary to deal a burn card first).
Another common house rule is that the bottom card of the deck is never given as a replacement card. This avoids the possibility of someone who might have seen the bottom card using that information. If the deck stub is depleted during the draw before all poker players have received their replacement cards, the last players can receive cards chosen randomly from among those discarded by the previous players.
For example, if the last poker player to draw wants three replacements, but there are only two cards remaining in the deck stub, the dealer gives the player the one top card he can give, then shuffles together the bottom card of the deck, the burn card if any, and the earlier players' discards (but not the three discards of the last player!), and finally deals two more replacement cards to the last player.
Example: Alice deals five cards to each player and places the deck stub aside. Bob opens the betting round by betting $1. Carol folds, David calls, and Alice calls, closing the betting round. Bob now declares that he wishes to replace three of his cards, so he removes those three cards from his hand and discards them. Alice retrieves the deck stub, deals a burn card, then deals three cards directly to Bob, who puts them in his hand. David discards one card, and Alice deals one card to him from the deck stub. Alice now discards three of her own cards, and replaces them with three from the top of the deck stub. Now a second betting round begins. Bob checks, David bets $3, Alice calls, and Bob folds, ending the second betting round. David shows a flush, and Alice shows two pair, so David takes the pot.