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Poker Hand Rankings

There is a set rank of cards, which is used for deciding the winning combination. The various ranks possible are:

Royal Flush Royal Flush

The highest natural hand is the Royal Flush; this hand cannot be beaten (See exception). This is the highest possible straight flush, ace-high: the five highest cards, the 10 through the Ace, all five of the same suit. The suit doesn't matter in poker. Two people with royal flushes would tie.


Straight Flush Straight Flush

A "Straight Flush" is any five cards of the same suit in consecutive rank order/sequence. Our example shows a six-high straight flush: the 2-3-4-5-6 of Spades. As in a regular straight, you can have an ace either high (A-K-Q-J-T) or low (A-2-3-4-5). You cannot use the ace in a wraparound: for example, K-A-2-3-4 is not a straight in poker.


Four Of A Kind Four Of A Kind

"Four of a Kind" is four cards of the same rank (plus any fifth card); four cards of the same number or face value, such as four nines, as illustrated, or four kings. If there are two or more hands that qualify, the hand with the higher rank four of a kind wins. Four Aces would be the highest in this ranking, with four two's being the lowest.


Full House Full House

A "Full House", also known as the boat, consists of one three of a kind and one pair such as, in the illustration, 4-4-4-7-7. When there are two full houses the tie is broken by the full house with the highest ranking three of a kind. For example, J-J-J-5-5 would beat 9-9-9-A-A. Three Aces with a pair of anything is the highest possible full house in poker; three Aces with a pair of Kings is the highest possible full house in Texas Hold'Em.


Flush Flush

A "Flush" is any five non-consecutive cards of the same suit. These cards do not have to be in a sequence to quality as a flush, they only have to be of the same suit. An example, as illustrated, is the 4-2-9-6-A of hearts. If flushes tie, follow the rules for High Card.


Straight Straight

A "Straight" is any five consecutive cards of mixed suits; five cards in rank order or sequence from any or all of the four suits. An example of a straight, in the illustration, is Five-Six-Seven-Eight-Nine (5-6-7-8-9). The highest straight is A-K-Q-J-10 The ace can either be high or low card, either A-2-3-4-5 or 10-J-Q-K-A. Wraparounds are not allowed, e.g. K-A-2-3-4. When two straights tie, the highest straight wins. For example, K-Q-J-10-9 would beat 5-4-3-2-A. If two straights have the same value, A-K-Q-J-10 vs. A-K-Q-J-10, the pot is split.


Three Of A Kind Three of a Kind

"Three of a Kind", commonly refered to as Trips, because of the triple use of a card, is three cards of the same rank, and two unrelated side cards-if they were, that would be a full house. Once again the highest ranking three of a kind would win. K-K-K-2-4 would beat Q-Q-Q-2-3. A,A,A is the highest ranking set of trips.


Two Pair Two Pair

"Two Pair" is two cards of a matching rank, another two cards of a different matching rank, and one side card. The highest-ranking pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both hands have the same two pair, whoever has the highest fifth card, or "kicker", wins. A-A-K-K is the highest ranking two pair.


Pair Pair

A "Pair" is two cards of a matching rank, and three unrelated side cards. 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. Of course, A-A is the highest single pair.


High Card High Card

If no one has even a single pair, the hand with the highest card(s) wins. Ace is highest card and 2 is the lowest. If more than one person has an ace you look at their second highest card. If still tied, this keeps going down through all cards held.


  Hands Tied

If two or more hands are the same ranking, the winner is the one having the higher cards. As in our example, the two pair of Aces and Twos beats the two pair of Queens and Tens.





If poker hands that have the same ranking (pair, flush, straight, etc.) remain tied, the 'kicker', or the highest card not being held in common, determines the winning hand.

When Poker hands are absolutely identical in ranking, the rule of poker is that pot distribution will be split evenly between the two or more winning players.


clubs clubs, diamonds diamonds, hearts hearts and spades spades
are the four suits in cards. No suit is higher than another.

One more note: Some poker games use wild cards and their use in poker depends on the variations; wild cards take on whatever rank or suit you want it to take. A wild card can either be a separate card added, like a joker, or a certain card in the standard deck may be specified to be wild, such as deuces or the two one-eyed jacks for example. So a Five of a Kind, which can only occur in games where at least one card is wild, is the highest possible hand in poker...higher than a Royal Flush. If more than one hand has five of a kind, the higher cards win, five Aces will beat five kings, which beats five queens, and continues on by the ranking of the cards. Examples of five of a kind would be four 10s and a wild card or two queens and three wild cards.

What are are the chances of you making a hand in poker? Check out these two links to Hand Odds and Poker Odds and Poker Odds for some very helpful insight in what your chances are of getting the hand you want.


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