In draw poker, you will initially deal out, say eight hands of five cards each (40 in total), leaving 12 "unseen" cards. Some players will fold, others will choose to draw.

In "The Education of a Poker Player" Herbert O. Yardley (1889-1958) supposed that four players would fold (20 cards total), and the remaining four stay, and draw a total of eight cards.

Where do these eight cards come from? Is it from the 12 "unseen" cards in the original deck? Do you mix in the 20 "folded" cards before dealing from the deck? And how about the eight "exchanged" cards by people who are still playing?

Suppose 5-6 people "stay" and draw 13-14 cards (that is more than the 12 unseen cards). Does that change the answer?

3 Answers 3


Draw (high and low) has been played in California clubs for many years with 8 players. Cards are dealt to the players who are drawing until the deck is exhausted (this does not happen very often). Then the discards are shuffled and a card is burned and the remaining players who are drawing get their cards from this shuffled set of discards.

  • It is important to note that while the muck may need to be used to fulfill draws, a player's own discards may not be included, so under no circumstances can a player get his own discards back. There are several more detailed rules, as I've noted below. Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 19:14

Traditional California player-dealt rules are these:

  1. After the initial deal, dealer places a chip on the stub and leaves it on the table before picking up his own cards (of course with a house dealer this doesn't apply).

  2. After the first round of betting, each player, in turn, beginning from the dealer's left, declares how many cards he intends to draw. A player may draw all 5 cards if he wishes. The dealer may not draw 5.

  3. After the declarations, the dealer must declare his draw, and physically remove the cards from his hand and put them on the table before picking up the stub (again, with house dealer this doesn't apply).

  4. Dealer burns the top card of the stub.

  5. Beginning with the player to his left, the dealer fulfills each players draw in turn. The players are not legally bound by their prior declarations, and may draw whatever they like. Abusing this privilege by deliberately miscalling a draw is unethical.

  6. Each player must release all his discards before touching any of the cards drawn. Only after each player's draw is complete, the dealer will collect discards into the muck.

  7. No player may receive 5 cards in a row from the stub. If a player draws 5, the dealer will give him 4, finish the draws from remaining players, and then give the fifth card to the earlier player.

  8. The bottom card of the stub may not be dealt. If the stub is exhausted before all draws are complete, the dealer will collect the muck--including the undealt bottom card but not including the discards of the current player or the burn--shuffle them, cut, and continue fulfilling draws. Thus, a player may receive an earlier player's discards on the draw, but not his own.

  • 1
    Welcome to the site. Interesting and helpful. An upvote to get you going.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 19:28

The cards are always dealt from the unseen cards.

There are few things that you should take in consideration:

  1. The maximum number of players in a draw poker table is 6.

  2. the maximum number of draws in the classic game is 1.

  3. the maximum number of cards to exchange is 3.

As you can see, in the classic game there are 30 cards dealt pre-flop and another 18 cards (3 cards per player with 6 players on the table) - total of 48 cards < 52 cards in a deck.

There are many "added" rules to this game. Some draw 3 times, some allow draw of 4 cards if you have an ace in hand, some allow change of all 5 cards and many more.

  • 1
    Maximum of six. When did this change take place? The person who wrote a book from which I learned eight-handed draw died in 1958.
    – Tom Au
    Commented Apr 29, 2013 at 20:18
  • I don't know this book, but if you'll check today in casinos or online, you will see that the maximum number of players per table is 6
    – amigal
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 11:07
  • I played 8-handed 5-draw lowball last week, and have done so in Vegas many times in recent years. I am not aware of a 6-max rule in any casino. Don't play online, so I can't speak to that. Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 19:17

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