Poker hands rankings
If you’re learning how to play poker, you are probably already aware that knowing your poker hand rankings is key to getting winning hands. Regardless of what version of the game you’re playing, there are various poker combinations you’re aiming for. While most of the winning poker hands are the same across all variants of the game, be aware that there are exceptions. In low-ball poker, for example, the game is flipped and the poker hands that usually have the lowest value become the ones you’re aiming for.
What beats what in poker?
There is a strict poker hierarchy that all players need to be aware of, with certain poker combinations being better than others. The best hand in poker is a royal flush, which beats all other hands. As you might expect, a royal flush in poker is very rare. It’s important to know all the poker hands in order, because you’re just aiming for the highest-ranked hand that you have a chance of actually getting.
It’s very possible to win a game of poker with a low-ranked hand provided that all the other players have been unlucky with their hand, of course. A full house poker win is common, as is a flush or a straight. You can even win with an unranked hand if you hold a high card. This is where bluffing can come in. When an experienced poker player plays a low-ranked hand with confidence, it may force others with low-ranked hands to fold, leaving that player to claim the winnings. If you have two good bluffers in the game, it’s possible that they both have low-ranked hands and it will come down to highest card wins.
There’s no real trick to knowing your poker rankings. You just have to learn where the various poker hands come in the rankings and memorize them. When there’s a tie, with two players having the same hand in terms of the general poker rankings, the player holding the highest-ranked card wins. In the unlikely event that there is a tie with more than one player holding all five cards of the same ranks, the pot is split.
Poker winning hands in order
So, which hands win in poker? The highest-ranking hands are most likely to win, obviously. However, it’s all relative. If you have a middle-ranked hand or even a low-ranked hand, you can still win if it’s better than the hands that your remaining opponents are holding at the end of the game. Here is our listing of all the possible poker hands ranked from highest to lowest. Simply learn them, and you’ll know what you’re aiming for in each poker game
This contains the ace, king, queen, jack and 10 card, all of which must be from the same suit. A royal flush is an unbeatable hand and very rare. In the very unlikely event that two players have achieved a royal flush using different suits, the pot would be split.
A straight flush is just five cards in a sequence from the same suit – for example, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8. In the event of a tie, the highest-ranked card at the top of the sequence wins.
Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank with an additional ‘kicker’ card. In the event of a tie, the highest-ranked four of a kind wins. If two players have the same four of a kind, the highest-ranking kicker card is used to decide the winner.
Three cards of the same rank, such as three kings, and a pair of matching cards – such as two jacks. In the event of a tie, the highest three matching cards win. If two players have the same three matching cards, then the highest ranking of the matching pair of cards wins.
Five cards of the same suit. In the event of a tie, the player holding the highest-ranked card wins.
Five cards in a sequence that do not belong to the same suit. In the event of a tie, the highest-ranking card at the top of the sequence wins.
Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank, along with two other cards. In the event of a tie, the highest-ranking three of a kind win. If players have the same three of a kind, the highest side card, and if necessary, the second-highest side card, decides the winner.
Two pairs of cards from a matching rank and two other cards from another rank – for example, two 8 cards and two 6 cards. In the event of a tie, the highest pair wins. If players have the same highest pair, the highest-ranked second pair wins. If both players have two identical pairs, the highest side card decides the winner.
Two cards of a matching rank along with three additional cards. In the event of a tie, the highest pair wins. If players have the same pair, the highest side card wins. If necessary, the second highest and third-highest side card can be used to decide the winner.
This refers to any hand that does not qualify under a category listed above. In the event of a tie, the highest card wins, and if necessary, the second-highest, third-highest, fourth highest and lowest card can be used to decide the winner.
Now you know your poker hands best to worst and can quickly work out the highest hand you can realistically aim for when you see the cards you are dealt. Just remember that even the worst hands in poker can theoretically be a winning hand. It just depends on what cards the other players are holding.
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