As more and more poker variants pop up, it can be pretty hard to keep up with all the new features and mechanics on offer. The aim of the game in each poker variant (whether online poker or not) remains the same — to obtain the best possible five-card poker hand and win.
By understanding poker hand rankings, you can devise the best possible strategy for a chance to win the pot. Here’s a complete list of poker hands to help you learn all about the five cards you need in each!
POKER HAND RANKINGS – WHAT BEATS WHAT?
Poker consists of two cards dealt face-down (your hole cards) and five cards on the table, called community cards. A hand is made by combining hole cards with the most advantageous set of any three cards in the five community cards available.
Hands are determined by whether they are constructed from cards of the same suit or different suits, along with the value of the cards for hands in the same rank.
Some poker hands are rarer than others. For instance, your chances of obtaining a royal flush, the highest poker hand ranking, are relatively low. By having a good understanding, you may even bluff your way to the top with a poker hand ranking as low as a high card.
FROM BEST TO WORST – POKER HAND RANKINGS ORDER
As we’ve discussed, there are various hands comprising of five cards, each with their own rank. The most common poker hands include a two-pair, three-of-a-kind and a full house.
Let’s take a look at each five-card hand in Texas hold ’em, starting with the best poker hands to the worst.
- Royal Flush
The best possible hand you can obtain in poker, and also the rarest, is a royal flush, as it gives you the greatest chances of winning. It is rare because, unlike other poker hands, the royal flush requires a specific set of five cards to be completed. A royal flush is composed of a 10, jack, queen, king and an ace — five consecutive cards all of the same suit.
What does a Royal Flush beat?
A royal flush beats everything! This hand is the pinnacle of poker hand rankings, and when you encounter being dealt such a hand, it will almost certainly be a winning poker hand, no matter what other players hold.
If you hold a royal flush, there is no chance of your opponent holding an equal-value hand, as no other hand sits in the same rank.
- Straight Flush
The second-highest poker hand a player can obtain in poker is a straight flush. That being said, it is also one of the most challenging hands to obtain. This hand is a combination of two others, a flush and a straight, featuring five cards in consecutive order, all of the same suit. For instance, obtaining a hand of five, six, seven, eight and nine of diamonds.
What does a straight flush beat?
A straight flush will beat every other hand except for a royal flush, as a royal flush sits atop the list of poker hand rankings as the most powerful hand.
A straight flush (which is the second-best five-card hand) may also be beaten by another straight flush with the highest card value, such as an ace high straight flush.
This is called a kicker, and it applies to all hands of the same rank except a royal flush.
With four-of-a-kind, we are now entering the territory of the game’s top three poker hand rankings.
A four-of-a-kind entails obtaining four cards all of the same rank, like, for example, obtaining four cards, all jacks, plus one other card. Here, a winner is once again determined by the highest-card value of the additional card.
What does a four-of-a-kind beat?
The four cards making up a four-of-a-kind will beat all other poker hands except a royal flush and straight flush. Once again, a four-of-a-kind will automatically lose to a four-of-a-kind hand with a higher value.
- Full House
The next poker hand in poker hand rankings is a full house — a combination of a pair and a three-of-a-kind. For example, this can look like a hand of two 10s and three queens.
The winner is determined by the highest three-of-a-kind hand, that is, the full house hand with the highest card value total.
What Does full house beat?
A full house beats all hands except royal flush, straight flush, and four-of-a-kind. Whichever of two full houses ranks higher in a game wins.
If you’re up for a challenge, you may try your hand at obtaining a flush. Closely resembling the straight, a flush is any five cards of the same suit, not in a sequence — for example, obtaining all five cards as spades.
If your opponent also has a flush, the player holding the highest card would be the winner. In the event that both players have an ace card, then the next highest card would be used.
What does a flush beat?
A flush beats hands at a lower rank like a straight, three-of-a-kind, two-pair, one-pair and high card. It also sits below the above rankings of full house, straight flush and royal flush. An ace-high flush is an example of the stronger of two flushes.
A straight is a sequence of five consecutive cards not of the same suit. For example, a player may obtain a queen, jack, 10, nine and eight in a mix of hearts, clubs and spades. The most important thing is that the cards are in order by individual card rank.
You’ve got a pretty decent chance of winning with this hand. Your chances also increase as, in this case, an ace can either start the sequence or end it.
This implies that an ace may either follow a king to complete the five cards or start the sequence followed by a two.
Although your chance of winning gets a boost with a straight, five cards in a sequence is still quite elusive to obtain.
What does straight beat?
A straight is beaten by a royal flush, straight flush, full house and flush. Obtaining a straight would trump a one-pair, two-pairs and the three of a kind.
One example of a winning straight is a seven-high straight, where the seven card breaks a tie. Another example is the broadway straight.
As we go through this list, you will realise that your chances of winning increase with your hand’s higher value. With three-of-a-kind, you can already beat a high card, a pair and a two-pair. Three-of-a-kind features three cards, all of the same value.
So, for example, a player may obtain three cards of different suits but still the same value. Again, the two cards that remain decide which player wins the hand with their three cards.
What does Three-of-a-Kind beat?
A three-of-a-kind is defeated by all poker hands ranked above it.
The next hand is a two-pair. Like a pair, a hand such as this isn’t the best hand to obtain, but it might be enough to win anyway.
This hand entails obtaining two cards of the same rank and another two cards of a different rank to create ‘two pairs’ of cards, for example, obtaining two queens and two 10s. They need not be of the same suit either.
The remaining card may also come in handy if your opponent receives the same hand. In this case, it is the highest-valued single card that determines the winner.
What does two-pair beat?
A two pair beats a one-pair and a high card.
- One Pair
A one-pair entails obtaining two cards of the same rank to make a pair. For example, getting two aces or two kings.
It is doubtful that a hand such as this would win the game, but you will find that skilled players know not to dismiss pairs so easily. If you have a good poker face, you may be able to bluff your way to the top.
What does one-pair beat?
Such hands can be beaten by all other hands except for a high card. Bear in mind lower hand rankings take less skill to form in poker games.
- High Card
The high card is the lowest-possible hand you can earn in poker. You can obtain this hand if you do not manage to form any other hand mentioned above. This implies that this hand has no pairs, features cards with different ranks and is not a straight or a flush. Accordingly, it is seen as the worst vantage point in terms of your winning odds as a player.
What does high card beat?
A high card will take skill to beat other hands in the complete list. A king-high card, also known as no-pair, is an example of a high card variation.
POKER HANDS RANKING RULES AND THE KICKER
To win at poker, you’ll need the best five cards you can get to form a winning poker hand from your own two hole cards and the five community cards on the table.
In the event of a tie, with four-of-a-kind, three-of-a-kind, two-pair, one-pair or high card, a ‘kicker’ comes into play to decide which of the hands with the same rank goes on to be the winning poker hand.
This is how poker hands can be ranked. With a 52-card deck, the highest card value is the king card, whilst the lowest is the two card. The ace card is ranked depending on the hand obtained.
So let’s take a hypothetical game of Texas hold ’em poker. Players A and B both have two pairs, and each separate pair holds the same suit and equal value. Those four cards are, therefore, the same rank. In this case, it all comes down to the remaining card for each player.
- Player A — a pair of sixes, a pair of tens and a jack.
- Player B — a pair of sixes, a pair of tens, and a queen.
In this example, Player B wins as the queen kicker forms a the stronger five-card poker hand. If the kickers do not determine winning hands, the prize pot must be shared.
CONCLUSION — WHICH HANDS SHOULD YOU PLAY?
One of the many great things about poker is the fact that you are continually learning. With every new game you play, you obtain a new hand every time. So, a strategy may work in one game but not the other.
Poker consists of a mix of skill and luck. Remember, without a high-ranking hand, your chances of winning may indeed be disadvantaged. However, there is more to winning than just your poker hand!
Try some poker games at LV BET to practise using the poker hands you’ve learned in this guide.
✅ What is the highest suit in poker?
Suits of cards rank equal to each other when it comes to standard poker hand rankings.
✅ What is the order of poker hands?
Ranked in descending order, the poker hands a player can get are royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house, flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, two-pair, one-pair and high card.
✅ What is the strongest poker hand?
The strongest poker hand is the royal flush which contains a 10, jack, queen, king and ace, all of which are of the same suit. No poker hands require five cards, all of the same suit, making it the rarest hand one can obtain.