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Mastering Poker Hand Rankings

Poker Hand Ranking

Introduction

Poker is not just a game of chance; it’s a game of skill, psychology, and strategy. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the poker table, understanding the ranking of poker hands is crucial to your success. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with an in-depth understanding of poker hand rankings, from the most potent hands to the weakest, across various types of poker games.

The Fundamentals

In a standard game of poker, a 52-card deck is used. The Ace can serve as the highest card or the lowest card, depending on the hand you’re holding. While there are numerous poker variants—ranging from Texas Hold’em and Omaha to Seven-Card Stud—the ranking of poker hands remains consistent. In online poker games, a 52-card deck is almost always used. However, a Joker may be included in Draw-style games but is generally not used in ‘flop games’ like Texas Hold’em. It’s essential to note that all poker hand rankings are determined from the best five cards available to you, and the suits are not ranked.

Hand Rankings: A Detailed Look

1. 5 of A Kind

Royal Flush
When a joker or wildcards are in play, “Five of a Kind” becomes the ultimate hand. This hand consists of five cards of the same rank, such as five Aces (four Aces and a joker). This hand is not available in ‘flop games’ like Texas Hold’em.

2. Royal Flush

Royal Flush

In games where the joker is not in play, the Royal Flush is the best hand. This hand consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit, starting from the Ace and going down to the Ten.

3. Straight Flush

Straight Flush

A Straight Flush is a sequence of five consecutive cards, all of the same suit. For example, a hand consisting of the 7, 8, 9, 10, and Jack of clubs would be a Straight Flush.

4. Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind

This hand consists of four cards of the same rank, along with any fifth card. The higher the rank of the four cards, the stronger the hand.

5. Full House

Full House

A Full House comprises three cards of one rank and two cards of another. The strength of a Full House is determined first by the three of a kind and then by the pair.

6. Flush

Flush

A Flush is a hand where all five cards are of the same suit but not in sequence. The strength of a Flush is determined by the highest card in the hand.

7. Straight

Straight

A Straight consists of five consecutive cards of any suit. The Ace can be used as either the highest or lowest card.

8. Three of a kind

Three of a kind

Three cards of the same number or face value with two additional cards. These two separate cards are called a kicker. When two players in a game both have a 3-of-A-Kind, the player with the highest card rank wins. For example, three Kings beat three Jacks. If cards are of the same rank for example both players have 3 Jacks, then the highest kicker is used to determine the winning hand, then the second kicker if necessary. A 3-of-A-Kind is also referred to as a set or trips, however, in Texas Holdem, the 3-of-A-kind is only a set only when the player has pocket pairs with the 3rd card to make up the 3-of-A-Kind on the board.

9. Two Pair

Two Pair

A Pair is two cards of the same number with another two cards consisting of another number, with one final card called the kicker. If two players have two pairs, the hand with the highest pair wins. Where both players have the same ranking cards for pairs, the kicker card determines the winning hand.

10. One Pair

One Pair

Two cards of the same number or value. The player with the highest number valued pair wins, where two players both have a Pair. Where both players have the same ranked card as a pair, the highest kicker card (3 remaining cards of different ranks) determines the winning hand.

11. High card

High card
If no player has any of the above hands, the hand with the highest card wins. The Ace is considered the highest card.

Conclusion

Mastering the ranking of poker hands is a foundational skill for anyone serious about the game. This guide serves as a comprehensive resource for players of all levels to understand, evaluate, and strategize based on the hand they’re dealt. Whether you’re playing a casual game with friends or participating in a high-stakes tournament, knowing how to evaluate the strength of your hand is crucial. So, the next time you find yourself in a showdown, you’ll be well-equipped to understand exactly where you stand. With this knowledge in hand, you’re now ready to take on the poker world. Happy playing!

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About the author

Richard Grant
Editor
Richard has from an early age been interested in casinos and the thrill of playing casino games. After finishing his degree in Law and business he started this platform in 2007 as a complete resource to online gaming with the primary objective of reducing the house edge for players. Specializing in game guides, reviews, and strategic insights, Richard is devoted to helping you hit the jackpot.

FAQ

faq

Are Poker hands different depending on the Poker variant I am playing?

Largely, no. While Poker’s popularity has managed to spawn dozens of different variations, the rules about the hand rankings remain the same. Obviously, some minor differences may occur, however, it largely remains consistent.

faq

What is the best hand I can get in Poker?

Depending on the rules and the amount of cards in a deck you are using, the best hand you can get in Poker is either going to be 4 or 5 of a kind. What this means is, that you’ve acquired four cards that are the same in value (an example would be 4 Jacks). In a deck where you incorporate the Joker, 5 of a kind means that you’ve gotten four cards of the same value and you are also holding the joker as well.

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What is the worst hand in Poker?

The worst hand you can get in Poker, obviously, is to have all your cards be off different value or suit. In other words, you can’t pair anything up to get a positive result.

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What happens if both players don’t have any pairs?

If both players have drawn up a bad hand, with absolutely no way to pair the card, the winner is the player who has the highest card in their hand. For example, if the highest card in your hand is a Jack, and your opponent’s highest card is a 9, you’ve won the match, and the pot.

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What is a Flush in Poker?

In Poker, a flush is one of the best combos you can get. A flush is a hand in which all of the cards are of the same suit. They don’t necessarily have to come in sequence. All they really need to be, is the same suit. For example, if you’ve been dealt 4, 5, 10, Jack and King, and all five are diamonds, that is a Flush.

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What is a Straight Flush?

A Straight Flush is similar to a flush. However, it is a better hand, simply due to the fact that straight flush is harder to get. You see a straight flush is really just a sequence of cards that follow each other and are of the same suit. Each card in the sequence is bigger than the next by one. For example: if all of your cards are clubs and their numbers are 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, you have a straight flush on your hand.

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What is a Royal Flush?

Royal Flush is the second strongest hand in Poker, after 5 of a kind. In essence, a royal flush is the same as a straight flush. Except the cards are 10+. For example, a 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of hearts comprises a Royal Flush.

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What happens if two (or more) players get 2 of a kind?

For those who don’t know, two of a kind (or 1 pair) is a hand in which the player only has 1 pair of cards (for example 2 10s, 2 Jacks, etc.). If two or more players get 2 of a kind, the player with the better pair wins the pot.

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What is the strongest card in Poker?

The ace is the strongest card in Poker. This means that, if you get a pair of aces, and an opponent gets a pair of kings, the Pair of Aces trumps the kings and you win the pot.

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What is a Full House?

A full house is a hand in Poker that pairs 2 of a kind with three of a kind. For example, if you have been dealt two aces and three Jacks, you have a full house on your hands. Full house is one of the best hands you can deal, and beats out a Flush, however, not a straight or royal flush.

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