Poker Hand Rankings
In poker, players construct hands of playing cards according to the predetermined rules, which vary according to which variant of poker is being played. These hands are compared using a poker hand ranking system that is standard across all variants of poker. The player with the highest-ranking hand wins that particular deal in most poker games. If you ever play poker, you need to know which hand wins over another. Therefore, you need to know the ranking of poker hands.
The following are the winning high hands in standard poker games, from highest to lowest. The player with the highest-ranking hand wins. These are standard for all poker sites. Any hand in one category in the list beats any hand in any category below it. For example, any straight flush beats any four of a kind; any flush beats any straight.
|Poker Hand Rankings|
|Royal Flush||The highest hand in poker. A royal flush consists of a straight from ten to the ace with all five cards of the same suit.|
|Straight Flush||Five cards in numerical order, all of the same suits.
If tie: Highest rank at the top of the sequence wins.
|Four of a Kind||Four cards of the same rank, and one side card.
If tie: Highest four of a kind wins. In community card games where players have the same four of a kind, the highest fifth side card wins.
|Full House||Three cards of the same rank, and two cards of a different, matching rank.
If tie: Highest three matching cards wins. In community cards where players have the same three matching cards, the highest value of the two matching cards wins.
|Flush||Five cards of the same suits.
If tie: The player holding the highest ranked card wins. In necessary, the second, third, fourth, and fifth-highest cards can be used to break the tie.
|Straight||Five cards of any suit in sequence.
If tie: Highest rank at the top of the sequence wins.
|Three of a Kind||Three cards of the same rank, and two unrelated side cards.
If tie: Highest ranking three of a kind wins. In community card games where players have the same three of a kind, the highest side card, and if necessary, the second-highest side card wins.
|Two Pairs||Two cards of a matching rank, another two cards of a different matching rank, and one side card.
If tie: Highest pair wins. If players have the same highest pair, highest second pair wins. If both player have two identical pairs, highest side card wins.
|One Pair||Two cards of a matching rank, and three unrelated side cards.
If tie: Highest pair wins. If players have the same pair, the highest side card wins, and if necessary, the second-highest and third-highest side card can be used to break the tie.
|High Card||Any hand that does not qualify under a category listed above.
If tie: Highest card wins, and if necessary, the second, third, fourth and fifth-highest card can be used to break the tie.
Poker Hand Categories
An ace-high flush such as is known as a royal flush, and is the highest ranking standard poker hand. There are four possible royal flushes, one of each suit.
A straight flush is a hand that contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit, such as . A hand that meets the requirements of both a straight and a flush. Two such hands are compared by their card that is ranked highest. Aces can play high or low in straights and straight flushes. is a 5-high straight flush, also known as a “steel wheel”. is an ace-high straigh flush, also known as a royal flush, the best possible straight flush.
Straight Flush Examples:
Four of a Kind
Four of a kind, also known as quads, is a poker hand such as , that contains all four cards of one rank and any other side card. Quads with higher-ranking cards defeat lower-ranking ones. In community-card games such as Texas Hold’em, it is possible for two or more players to obtain the same quad; in this instance, the unmatched card acts as a kicker, so defeats . If two hands have the same kicker, they tie and the pot is split.
Four of a Kind Examples:
A full house, also known as a full boat, is a hand such as , that contains three matching cards of one rank and two matching cards of another rank. Between two full houses, the one with the higher-ranking three cards in their hand wins, so defeats . If two hands have the same three cards, the hand with the higher pair wins, so defeats . Full houses are described as “three full of pair“; could be described as “queens full of nines” or simply “queens full”.
Full House Examples:
A flush is a poker hand such as , where all five cards are of the same suit, but not in sequence. Two flushes are compared as if they were high card hands; the highest ranking card of each is compared to determine the winner. If both hands have the same highest card, then the second-highest ranking card is compared, and so on until a difference is found. If the two flushes contain the same five ranks of cards, they are tied and split the pot, that is, suits are not used to rank them.
A straight is a poker hand such as , that contains five cards of sequential rank in at least two different suits. Two straights are ranked by comparing the highest card of each. Two straights with the same high card are of equal value, suits are not used to separate them. Straights are described by their highest card, as in “ten-high straight” or “straight to the ten” for .
A hand such as is an ace-high straight (also known as “broadway” or “royal straight”), and ranks above a king-high straight such as . The ace may also be played as a low card (having a value of “1”) in a five-high straight such as , which is colloquially known as a “wheel” or Baby Straight. The ace may not “wrap around”, or play both high and low; is not a straight.
Three of a Kind
Three of a kind, also called trips or a set, is a poker hand such as that contains three cards of the same rank, plus two cards which are not of this rank nor the same as each other. In Texas Hold’em and other flop games, three of a kind is called a “set” usually when it is composed of a pocket pair and one card of matching rank on the community cards; It is called “trips” usually when it is made by one card that player has in the hole cards with two matching cards on the board.
A higher valued three-of-a-kind defeats a lower valued three-of-a-kind, so defeats . If two hands contain three of a kind of the same value, the kickers are compared to break the tie, so defeats .
Three of a Kind Examples:
A poker hand such as , that contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank, plus any card not of either rank, is called two pairs. To rank two hands both containing two pair, the higher ranking pair of each is first compared, and the higher pair wins. defeats . If both hands have the same top pair, then the second pair of each is compared, such that defeats . If both hands have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner, so beats .
Two Pairs Examples:
One pair is a poker hand such as , that contains two cards of one rank, plus three cards which are not of this rank nor the same as each other. Higher ranking pairs defeat lower ranking pairs; if two hands have the same pair, the non-paired cards (the kickers) are compared in descending order to determine the winner.
One Pair Examples:
A high-card or no-pair hand is a poker hand such as , made of any five cards not meeting any of the above requirements. Essentially, no hand is made, and the only thing of any potential meaning in the hand is the highest card. Nevertheless, they sometimes win a pot if the other players fold or even at a showdown. Two high-card hands are ranked by comparing the highest ranking card. If those are equal, then the next highest ranking card from each hand is compared, and so on until a difference is found.
High Card Examples:
If two or more players reach showdown with a hand that is of equal value, then the pot is split and each remaining player gets the same amount. For example, if Player A has and Player B is holding on a board of , then both players have two pairs (aces and eights) with a queen kicker. The is higher than the , but it doesn’t play, because only the best five-card poker hand counts. It is a split pot.
Split pots often occur in Texas Hold’em, because five of the available seven cards are identical for all players. If the last two cards are of same rank as well, or aren’t required to form the best possible hand, then the pot is split automatically.
As already mentioned in some of the previous examples, a kicker determines who wins a showdown if two players have the same hand. It is not a key component in building the hand, but it can decide who wins if two players have similar hands.
A hand consists of five cards, but only a straight, flush, full house and straight flush use all five cards. However, with hands where not all of the cards are required to make the hand, such as three of a kind or two pair, the remaining cards can be decisive.
If Player A has and Player B has , with the board showing , then Player A wins. Although both players have three queens, Player A’s is decisive.
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