The high card in poker is the lowest-ranking hand, and as one might imagine, the odds of winning the pot with such hands are relatively low.
That said, the high card hand rank on a dry board texture doesn’t always matter; pots can definitely be won with a high card.
In this blog, we at LV BET have explored the strength, probability and effectiveness of the high card hand in the context of multiple poker variants, but especially Texas hold’em.
HIGH CARD IN POKER HAND RANKINGS
According to the rankings of poker hands, the high card hand is the worst in the game. The high card hand rank is the lowest of all poker hands, beaten even by simple pair hands.
If you want to find out more about traditional poker hand rankings, feel free to check out our dedicated blog.
- Royal Flush: Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten, all in the same suits. For example, A, K, Q, J and 10 qualify for this hand. This is the best hand that sits at the top of the hand rankings.
- Straight Flush: Straight flushes are made up of five consecutive cards of identical suit, but not the highest-ranking ones.
- Four of a Kind: Also called quads, this hand includes four cards ranked equally.
- Full House: A full house comprises three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
- Flush: Five cards of the same suit, not in consecutive order. An A, 10, 6, 3 and 2 of spades make an ace-high flush, since the ace is the highest-ranking card in the hand. A king high flush would be K, Q, J, 8 and 3 of clubs, for example.
- Straight: Five consecutive cards of different four suits. (3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 makes a seven high straight). Ace to five makes an ace-high straight. A Broadway Straight refers to a 10 to A straight.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of equal rank make a three of a kind. An example is three aces.
- Two Pair: Two pair hands comprise two pairs. Two pair hands look like this: K-K-Q-Q-10.
- One Pair: Two cards of the same rank make a one pair. For example, two 10s make a pair. One pair hands lose to all poker hands except high card hands. A pair wins against lower-ranked pairs, as well.
- High Card: The lowest-ranking hand. The high card hand rank is so low simply because it is the highest card in your poker hand when no other combinations are present.
HOW IS THE HIGH CARD STRUCTURED?
The high card in poker doesn’t follow any particular suit or sequence; it’s simply the highest card in your poker hand. The ranking of cards, from highest to lowest, goes as follows: aces (A), king (K), queen (Q), jack (J), 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2.
If two players have the same high card, the second-highest card is compared, and so on until a winner is determined.
HIGH CARD IN POKER – THE CARDS SAME SUIT
The poker high card doesn’t require cards to be of identical suits. In contrast, hands like flushes and straight flushes demand all five cards to be of identical suits. A high card hand can have cards of different suits and still be considered a high card.
WHAT BEATS HIGH CARD ON THE POKER TABLE?
One glance at the poker hand rankings chart shows that all poker hands beat the high card hand, except lower-ranking high card hands.
The fact that even the highest high card loses to every poker hand out there means that the high card hand is the weakest in the game.
LOWEST HAND HIGH CARD VS HIGHEST HAND ROYAL FLUSH
The contrast between the lowest hand, poker high card, and the best poker hand, royal flushes, is stark.
A high card is a meager poker hand with no pairs or sequences, whereas royal flushes are the best possible hand in poker. It consists of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10, all of identical suits.
HIGH CARD IN STRAIGHT FLUSH POKER HAND
Straight flushes are a considerably better hand than the high card hand. It involves five sequential cards of identical suits. While high card hands don’t require cards to be in sequence or of identical suits, straight flushes combine both elements, making them a substantially stronger poker hand.
PROBABILITY OF HITTING HIGH CARD IN POKER
Like any five-card hand in the game, high cards have a certain probability to them. Although they are the worst hand in the game, the odds of making a high card are countered by the odds of making a better poker hand.
- Step 1: Calculate the Number of High Card Hands
To calculate the number of high card hands, you need to consider the following:
- There are 4 Aces, 4 Kings, 4 Queens, 4 Jacks, and 4 Tens in a standard deck (one of each suit).
- There are 36 cards that can be high cards (Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Tens).
- You need to choose one of these 36 cards to be your high card.
To calculate the number of high card poker hands, you can use combinations. The formula for combinations is C(n, k), where n is the total number of items to choose from, and k is the number of items to choose. In this case, n is 36 (the number of cards you can choose from), and k is 1 (you need to choose one high card). So, the number of high card hands is:
Number of High Card Hands = C(36, 1) = 36
- Step 2: Calculate the Total Number of Five-Card Hands
As mentioned earlier, there are 2,598,960 possible unique five-card hands in a standard deck.
- Step 3: Calculate the Probability
To find the probability of getting a high card hand, divide the number of high card poker hands by the total number of five-card hands:
Probability of High Card Hand = (Number of High Card Hands) / (Total Number of Five-Card Hands) Probability of High Card Hand = 36 / 2,598,960
Now, calculate the probability:
Probability of High Card Hand ≈ 0.00138
So, the probability of getting a high card hand (any high card) in poker is approximately 0.138% or 1 in 725. This means that, on average, you can expect to be dealt a high card hand in about 1 out of every 725 hands. Keep in mind that this probability assumes a standard 52-card deck and does not take into account factors like the number of players at the table or community cards in games like Texas Hold’em.
HIGH CARD IN POKER EXAMPLES
To illustrate the concept of a poker high card hand, let’s consider a few examples:
- Example 1: Your poker hand contains the following cards: Ks, 9c, 7d, 4s, 2h. In this case, the highest card is a king making it a king high hand.
- Example 2: Your hand includes Qc, 9s, 7s, 5d, 3d. Even though all cards are of particular suits, the queen is the highest card, making this a queen high hand.
- Example 3: Similar to the above example, your poker hand consists of Qd, 10d, 8h, 7c, 3s. The queen is the highest card, classifying this hand as a queen high hand.
HOW TO PLAY HIGH CARD IN TEXAS HOLD’EM AND OMAHA POKER
High card hands are inevitable in poker, and knowing how to play them is crucial. Let’s delve into how to approach high card hands in two popular poker variants.
HIGH CARD IN TEXAS HOLD’EM
In Hold’em, each player is dealt two hole cards, and five community cards are placed face-up on the table. To play a high card hand effectively, consider the following:
- Position: Your position at the table matters. If you’re in an early position, playing cautiously with a high card may be advisable. In a later position, you can be more aggressive. Feel free to fold pre-flop if you’re in early position and players start playing big bets.
- Bluffing: Use your high card hand to bluff. Make your opponents believe you have a stronger hand, forcing them to fold.
- Reading Your Opponents: Observe your opponents and their betting patterns. If they appear weak, your high card might be enough to win the hand.
HIGH CARD IN OMAHA
In Omaha poker, players receive four hole cards, but they must use exactly two of them in combination with three of the five community cards. Playing high card in Omaha can be trickier due to the extra hole cards. Here are some tips:
- Use Your Best Two: Remember, you must use two of your hole cards. So, even if you have a high card, ensure it’s among your two strongest hole cards.
- Watch the Community Cards: Pay attention to the community cards on the table. If they complement your high card well, you might have a better chance of winning the hand.
- Be Prepared to Fold: If the comm. cards don’t improve your hand, don’t hesitate to fold. Omaha is a game of using the right combinations, and a high card alone often won’t suffice.
CONCLUSION – DRAWING A HAND WITH A HIGH CARD FROM A DECK OF 52 CARDS
High card poker, the lowest five-card hand in the game, is a starting point for players who are about to start playing poker. It’s a reminder that even the most basic hand can hold significance in the right context. Understanding the nuances of high card, its rankings, and how to play it effectively can make a difference in your poker journey.
✅ WHEN DOES HIGH CARD IN WIN?
High card wins when no other player has a hand that ranks higher. It’s the default winning hand when all other hands are weaker. However, it’s essential to consider the comm. cards, your position, and your opponents’ actions when deciding whether to bet or fold with a high card hand.
✅ WHAT IF TWO PLAYERS IN THE SAME HAND HAVE A HIGH CARD?
If two or more players have high card hands, the highest card wins. If the higher card is the same, the second-highest cards are compared. If the same card is shown again, the process continues until the lowest-ranking card is compared to find the winning hand. If the highest high card and the rest of the cards (thus, all the cards) are identical, the pot is split among the tied players.
✅ WHAT IS THE VALUE OF ACES IN HIGH CARD?
In high card poker, the ace is the highest-ranking card. It holds more value than all the cards in the deck. When you have an ace as your highest card, it is considered the best high card hand possible, often referred to as “ace-high”. So, an ace in your high card hand is a valuable asset.