Whether you’re playing Texas Hold’em Poker or Pot Limit Omaha, live poker or online poker, the same hand rules apply. To be a successful poker player you need to be familiar with the strength of your hand. Does a flush beat a straight? What beats four of a kind? What is a flush in poker? In this guide, we will list down the poker hand strengths from strongest to weakest.
The Basics Of Hand Rankings in Poker
The objective of playing poker is of course to win, but in order to win, you will need to make the best FIVE-card hand and the strongest hand wins the pot. The value of poker hands is determined by how rare or common it is to be dealt those cards, with the most common hands valued lower than the rarer hands.
Understanding poker card rankings will allow you to identify whether you have a strong hand as well as determine the strength of your starting hands. This will give you a better idea of which hands to play and which to let go of.
Before you begin, here are a few things to note:
An Ace can be used as a highest-ranked card or lowest-ranked card.
In the event of a tie, the “kicker” will determine the winning hand.
Order of Poker Hands
Royal Flush (A♠-K♠-Q♠-J♠-T♠)
The highest hand in poker is a royal flush consisting of a straight from ten to the ace with all five cards of the same suit. A royal flush is exceptionally rare and is therefore the best poker hand, as well as the most coveted hand.
Straight Flush (5♦-6♦-7♦-8♦-9♦)
A straight flush is five consecutive cards with all cards having the same suit. The difference between a straight flush and a royal flush is that a royal flush must begin from Ten to Ace. If in the case there are two straight flushes in one hand, the straight flush with the highest card will be the winner.
Four of a Kind (A♠-A♥-A♣-A♦-J♣)
A four-of-a-kind is often referred to as “quads”. Four of a Kinds are also subject to the card ranks. Four Aces will beat four Kings followed by Four Queens all the way down to Four twos. Only a straight flush and a royal flush beats a four-of-a-kind.
Full House (J♠-J♥-J♦-3♣-3♥)
A full house consists of three of a kind and a pair. The full house in the example above is referred to as “Jacks full of threes.” If there are two full houses during one round, the one with the highest three-of-a-kind wins. In Texas Holdem Poker, two players can have the same three of a kind and if that is the case, the player with the highest pair is the winner. If two players have the same full house, the pot is split.
A flush in poker consists of five cards of the same suit. If two players have flushes during one round, the flush with the highest card wins. If the highest card is of the same rank, it goes to the next highest card, and so on down to the fifth card if necessary. If the two hands are identical, the pot will be split.
A straight consists of five consecutive cards of any suit. Similar to all other hands, in the event there is more than one straight in a round, the straight that starts on the highest card will win. Aces can be used as a high card above a king or as a low card below a two to make a straight. An Ace cannot be used to connect a King and a Two and an Ace below a two cannot be used as a high card.
Three of a Kind (J♠-J♥-J♦-T♣-8♦)
The common term for three-of-a-kind in poker is “set” or “trips”. A “set” refers to three-of-a-kind using pocket pairs and “trips” refers to a three-of-a-kind using one hole card and 2 community cards. In this case, Three Aces will be the strongest set, followed by three Kings, and so on all the way down to three Twos. If in the case there is more than one player with the same three of a kind, the player with the highest kicker will win the hand. A kicker is the highest unpaired card in a hand.
Two Pairs (J♠-J♥-T♥-T♣-8♦)
Don’t confuse Two Pairs with Pair Twos. Two pairs consist of two cards of the same rank plus two more cards of the same rank. If two players are holding two pairs in the same round, the highest pair wins. If both high pairs are identical, then the higher second pair wins. In some cases, both pairs are identical and if this happens, the player with the highest kicker wins.
One Pair (J♠-J♥-T♣-8♦-3♣)
To make a one-pair means having two cards of the same rank in your five-card poker hand, with three other cards being unpaired. Once again, if two or more players have the same pair, the player with the highest kicker will be the winner.
High Card (K♥-J♠-T♥-8♦-3♣)
If no player has a hand containing at least one pair, the hand with the highest card is the winner. An “Ace-high” hand would beat a “King-high” hand, and so on.
Poker Hands Chart
It may take some time to memorise the poker ranks. No worries! We have prepared a hand rankings chart that you can download and/or print out that you can refer to whenever you need to.
Variations For Poker Rankings
Texas Hold 'em hand rankings are similar to that of Omaha but it is important to note that Short Deck Hold’em has a slight difference due to the reduced number of cards in play. In Short Deck, Flush ranks higher than a Full House. Apart from a flush beating a full house, all other hand rankings are similar to Texas and Omaha poker.
There are many other different variations of Poker and some might have different rules for hand rankings. It’s best to familiarise yourself with the rules of the type of poker you want to play before diving in.
Tie-breakers and Kickers
What happens when more than one player has the same hand? This is when it is important to take note of the extra cards in your hand which are called “Kickers”. These are cards that most might not pay attention to because they are sort of loose cards in the hand that don’t match with any other card. Below are some examples.
Player A: Q♥ 8♥
Player B: A♠ Q♦
Community Cards: Q♠-T♣-T♦-4♠-2♣
Player A: Q♥ Q♠ T♣ T♦ 8♥ for Two Pair - Queens and Tens with an Eight kicker
Player B: Q♦ Q♠ T♣ T♦ A♠ for Two Pair - Queens and Tens with an Ace kicker
In the scenario above, both players hold a pair of queens and share a pair of tens from the board but player B wins because the next highest card in their hand is an Ace as opposed to the Eight of Player A.
Player A: A♥ 8♥
Player B: A♠ Q♦
Community Cards: A♦-K♣-T♦-4♠-2♣
Player A: A♥ A♦ K♣ T♦ 8♥ for One Pair - Pair Aces with a King, Ten, and Eight kicker
Player B: A♠ A♦ K♣ Q♦ T♦ for One Pair - Pair Aces with a King, Queen, and Ten kicker
In the scenario above, both players have the same King kicker so the second kicker will be used which gives Player B the advantage of a Queen versus a Ten from Player A.
If in the case the second kicker is also the same, it will then move to the third, and so on. It is also entirely possible that both players have the same best five-card hand in which they will share the pot equally. Remember, in community card poker games like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Short Deck, suits don’t carry weight so a K♠ doesn’t outrank a K♦.
Poker Hand Rankings FAQ
Q: How many different types of poker hands are there?
For 5-card poker games, there are 10 possible hands. The possible hands in order are the royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and high card.
Q: What are the best and worst starting hands in Texas Hold’em?
A 52-card deck creates 1,326 possible hole card combinations. The best starting hand would be Pocket Aces and the worst would be Seven-Two off-suit.
Q: What's the best hand in poker?
The best hand in poker would be a royal flush which is Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten of the same suit.
Q: Are three pairs considered a poker hand in Texas Hold’em?
Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Short Deck are 5-card poker games where players need to make the best 5-card hand using a combination of their hole cards and the community cards. Having three pairs is not considered a poker hand because a hand consists of 5 cards instead of 6.
Q: What are the odds of getting a royal flush?
Using a standard 52-card deck there are 4 ways a royal flush can be formed (one of each suit) so the probability of hitting a royal flush is 1 in 649,739 or 0.000154%. If you are holding two suited high cards that can be used to form a royal flush (for example A♠ K♠) you’ll have a better chance of hitting a royal flush at 1 in 19,600.
Q: What suit is the highest in poker?
In Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Short Deck, suits don’t carry any weight so no particular suit is better than the other.