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How to Play 42 Draw Poker


FORTY-TWO DRAW POKER: A variation of draw poker. Each player is dealt 4 hole cards and there are two board cards. After a round of betting 1 of the board cards is turned face up, another betting round and the second is turned up. Players may then discard and draw up to 2 cards to their hole cards. Players make their hand by using any 5 of the 6 cards available to them (4 hole cards and 2 board cards). May be played high-low split.

Summary of action
Deal 4 hole cards to each player. Place 2 cards face down on table.
Reveal 1 card.
Reveal 2nd card.
Draw cards (maximum 2 cards per player).
High only or Hi-Lo Cards Speak: Showdown
High-Low Declaration: Declare

Playing Tips for 42 Draw Poker


Position is very important in 42 draw poker. Because this game includes the opportunity to draw cards the players in late position have an advantage. They get to learn how many cards the players before them draw before they have to make their own draw. To illustrate, suppose both the board cards are high cards (e.g. KQ, KJ, QJ, etc) or are paired and everyone before you draws 2 cards. You should consider standing pat with just about any low hand. Standing pat will signal you have a good hand. And the odds are against another player drawing 2 cards to make a low that they would be comfortable calling you with. But, in order to make your standing pat believable, it is important to show some strength before the draw.

Because 42 draw poker offers the opportunity to draw cards, one might be tempted to play just about any starting hand, even something like A2. Fight that temptation. You should really have at least 3 good cards in your hand, or cards with multiple potentials in order to play. Consider using the similar starting hand selection that you would use in 5 card draw, because that is basically what this game is. Bear in mind that, in contrast to 5 card draw, you may have radically different drawing odds to some hands. For example: with 2 suited cards in your hand and both of the board cards that same suit you can draw 2 cards to hit just the one card you need to make a flush. A similar situation occurs when holding 2 pair by using both board cards and 2 hole cards. But, be careful. Other players may have similar draws, so your flush or full house better be big.

Starting Hand Selection


In Forty-Two Draw poker you will have to use at least 3 of your dealt cards in order to make your hand. This makes your hole cards the most important factor in determining your hands likely strength. You must have good starting cards in order to have a chance to draw to a final hand that stands a decent chance of winning.

For high you would love to start with trips. The board will then give you 2 chances to either pair your remaining hole card or find the fourth card to your trips. If that fails you will still have a one card draw to quads or to pair one of the 2 board cards. If the board cards pair themselves you will also make a full house that way. Should that occur, you’d prefer that the pair on the board be of a lower rank than the trips in your hand. If the reverse occurs you must allow for the very real chance that someone else has already made a better full house than you or has a draw to one. If your trips in your hand do not improve but they are fairly high and the two board cards are both of a lower rank and are not coordinated, they still might win on their own.

Other excellent starting hands would be 4 to a straight flush, 4 to a flush or 4 to a straight. It is to your advantage for these 4 card hands to be made of low cards as it also gives you the possibility of making a good low hand. Note that these 4 card hands are not complete. You must get help from the board cards to make your hand. Also note that if the board misses your 4 card flush is now dead unless it has low potential. A 4 card straight may still have a flicker of hope. If 1 board card is 1 gapped from your straight you have a 1 card draw to an inside straight. (e.g. You hold 8765 and the board contains a ten. You could dump your 5 for a 1 card draw to a 9.) Though possible in theory it is difficult to imagine a situation in which you will be getting the correct pot odds to make it pay off. And, even if you hit you could still lose to a better hand.

2 pair is also a worth while starting hand also giving you a shot at a full house or better. But, if it does not improve it does not stand much of a chance of winning by itself, especially if one of the board cards is higher than your highest pair. A single pair may worth playing if you also have cards that give you other possibilities as well, like 3 to a flush or 3 very low cards.

For low you would like to have 3 cards of 5 or less or 4 cards of 6 or less. Maybe even 7 or less, but probably not 76. The board cards have a major bearing on this. If those 2 cards are both 6 or under, even your pat 7 low may not be enough. If one of the board cards is higher than your highest card you are usually in decent shape. If they are both higher you are in even better shape.

4 Card Poker Probabilities


Approximate chances of being dealt the following HIGH hands as your 4 hole cards. Note that 4 card straights, flushes or straight flushes are not yet made hands. You must get help from the board in order to complete them.

4 Card HandPercent ProbabilityOdds Probability
4 of a Kind0.005%20,000:1
Straight Flush0.016%6250:1
3 of a Kind0.92%107:1
2 Pair3.04%32:1
1 Pair30.5%2:1


Approximate chances of these LOW hands being dealt to you as your 4 hole cards.

4 Card HandPercent ProbabilityOdds Probability
A3XX or 23XX14.4%6:1
Any 4-low (3 cards)3.6%27:1
Any 5-low (3 cards)7.2%13:1
Any 5-low (4 cards)0.36%277:1
Any 6-low (4 cards)0.9%110:1
Any 7-low (4 cards)1.8%55:1