Poker Hand Rankings
Almost all variants of poker are based around a poker hand that’s made up of 5 cards. It is these 5 cards that determines who the winner is. Therefore, it is critical that you understand the ranking order of poker hands so that you know how strong your poker hand is compared to your opponents.
This is the best possible hand you can get in poker and is unbeatable. It’s basically a “Straight Flush” that runs from Ace to Ten.
Five cards in numerical order and are all of the same suit. This is similar to a “Royal Flush” with the only exception being that it does not contain an Ace. In instances where multiple players have a Straight Flush, the one with the highest high value card wins.
Four of A Kind (also known as “Quads”)
As the name suggests, it’s a combination of four cards of the same rank and a kicker (the fifth card).
In the event there are more than 1 player with this hand, the one comprised of the highest quads wins.
In community card games, where players can use cards from the “board” (cards are placed faced up, and can be used by any player to create a best 5-card hand), and therefore it’s possible that multiple player can have “Four of a Find” made up from the same quads, then the player with the highest kicker wins.
Fourth in the poker hand rankings is the Full House. It is a combination of any three cards of the same numerical value and a pair of another value. When there’s multiple “Full House” hands, the one with the highest triplet wins. If players have the same triplets, then the one with the highest pair wins.
A “Flush” is a set of five cards with the same suit. The cards do not have to be in sequential order be a Flush. Between two or more flushes, the one with the highest high value card wins, with an “Ace-high Flush” being the strongest.
In the event that multiple hands have the same highest high value card, the winner is then determined by the second highest high value card, so on and so forth.
Any five cards in sequential order that is of different suits. Two Straights are compared by the value of their high cards. An ace can be used as the highest value card in the Straight, or the lowest value card in a Straight. For example, an Ace-high straight, like the one in our example, is the strongest Straight you can get (also known as a “Broadway” Straight). But a Straight consisting of Ace, two, three, four, five is considered the weakest Straight (also known as “Wheel” straight).
Three of a Kind (also known as “Trips” or “Set”)
A three of a kind is just a Full House without the additional pair. Meaning, the other 2 cards are of different values. When there are multiple “Three of a Kind”, the one with the highest triplet wins.
If players have the same triplets, then the winner is determined by the one with the highest value of the two remaining cards, and if multiple players have the same card here again, then the player with the second highest high value card wins.
You probably can guess what this is. It’s simply Two Pairs of any value. In instances where there are more than 1 player with a Two Pairs, the winner is first determined by the one with the highest pair, then the highest second pair, then the kicker (fifth card).
This hand consists of one pair of the same value cards, and 3 unrelated cards, all of different value. In the event of a tie, the hand with the highest pair wins. If players have the same highest pair, then the winner is determined by the hand with the highest value card of the 3 kickers, then the 2nd highest, then then 3rd.
If your hand doesn’t fall into any of the above categories, then what you have is a “High Card” hand and the value of the highest card in the hand determines the strength of this hand. So, a player with a 10 High Card would beat a player with a 8 High Card.
In instances where multiple players have the same highest high card, then it goes down the remaining four cards to determine who the winner is.
As shown in our example, the strongest High Card hand is a A, K, Q, J, 9.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. The ranking order is absolute, and there are no instances where a lower ranked hand would beat a higher ranked hand.
Both my friend and I have a Two Pair hand consisting of the same two pairs and a different kicker. So my hand is Ad, Ac, 8d,8c, 10 and his hand is Ah, As, 8h, 8s, 9. He said he is the winner because his two pairs are made from hearts and spades, which are usually considered to be higher than the diamonds and clubs in my hand. Is this true?
Your friend is wrong. Suits don’t play a role in determine the strength of a hand in poker. Only the numerical value of the card does. So in this example, since you both have the same two pairs, then the winner would be the one with the highest kicker (the fifth card). So, that would be you, because your 10 is higher than your friend’s 9.
No, it doesn’t. As we explained in the above question, suits play no roles in poker. This is same for the colour of a card.
In Texas hold’em with five community cards, I’m able to create three pairs. Would this beat Two Pairs?
Even Though there are seven cards in total, you are only able to use 5 cards from the seven to create your strongest 5-card hand. Therefore, it’s not possible to have 3 pairs, which requires 6 cards. In this particular instance, what you have is a Two Pair hand.
No, it doesn’t. Aces can only be used as a high card or a low card in the case of any poker hand that requires the numbers to be in a sequential order, such as a “Straight” or a “Straight Flush”.
So, a “10, J, Q, K, A” is the highest Straight possible (also known as a “Broadway” Straight), and a “A, 2, 3, 4, 5” is the lowest Straight possible (also known as a “Wheel” Straight). But Aces cannot be used as a wraparound Straight, such as “K, A, 2, 3, 4”.