Draw poker can be defined as any particular kind of poker variation where the player is dealt with a full hand just before the first round of betting, then develops his hand by the ‘drawing’ or replacing of cards. There are various kinds of betting structures and in home games it is not unusual to use an ante with betting always beginning with the player seated at the dealer’s left. In casino play however, the betting structure called blinds is used more often.
And so the first betting round starts with the player who is to the left of the big blind, and succeeding rounds begin with players seated to the dealer’s left, making draw games very positional. A standard five-card draw is the variation learnt by most novice players, it being common in home games. Now somewhat rare in casino and tournament play, it’s a game that can be played by two to eight players.
Lowball or California lowball in particular was played in Gardena in the 70’s. In spite of its reducing popularity due to the beginning of stud poker and community card poker, it continues to be played. It’s played with ace-to-five low hand values along with a solitary joker in the deck. It is at all times played with blinds rather than with antes, and so players typically check on the second round instead of the first. A rather general rule in these low level games is that a player checking on the second round cannot raise on third. Games with a pot limit or a no limit betting structure don’t hold fast to this rule.
Badugi is a four card ace-to-five low lowball deviation where conventional poker hand rankings are altered. A four card hand has all cards of diverse ranks and suites. Cards corresponding to other cards in ranks or suits cannot play and the first criterion for evaluating the hands is the number of cards that are playing.
Shotgun or ‘Roll ‘em out’, are played akin to a stud game. It can be played for high or low but is finest when played at a high-low split and then it’s called ‘Skinny Minnie’. The Spit in the ocean can perhaps be classified as a hybrid draw or a community card game. An interesting fact is that the Ray Stevens song ‘Shriner’s Convention’ mentions the game! Anaconda or ‘Pass the Trash’ is another game. Here the players are required to discard their cards and pass them to their right hand neighbor for at least four betting rounds. The one at the end with the best five-card high hand wins.
All these games can be adapted according to the players’ whims. One can do that by adding or subtracting the number of cards or betting rounds, altering hand values etc. However the interested party can keep in mind some guiding principles to avoid confusion. Using more than four wild cards can cause confusion. Number of rounds should be from about two to five to enjoy the game at its best. Keep in mind, missed draws can cost you a lot of money in poker so draw safely!