Does a flush beat a straight? Is a Full House better than Four of a Kind? Is Three of a Kind
higher than Two Pairs? Between a High Card and a pair, which one takes the pot?
If you are just starting to play poker, these are important questions to ask. Because as a
player, you must have your poker hand rankings pat.
So, what exactly are poker hand rankings and why is it important to know them?
Poker hand ranking is the hierarchy of possible winning hands, with the Royal Flush at the
top and a High Card at the bottom. Between these two are eight other potential poker hand
sequences, including the Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Two
Pairs and One Pair.
Poker card rankings are ordered on their probability of occurring. For example, getting a
Royal Flush has the lowest probability (.000154%, or odds of 1: 649739) while getting a High
Card has the highest probability (50.1177%, and almost even odds of 1:.995)
Knowing poker hand rankings inside out is important, as is having a good hand in a game. But
winning in poker often comes down to skill. The hand you are dealt is a matter of chance.
What you do with it is a matter of expertise. That’s why old hands at poker say: “Don’t play
your cards, play the table.”
Two important points to remember when it comes to poker hand rankings:
1. The suit – spades, diamonds, hearts and clubs -- does not matter in the ranking of hands.
All suits are equal.
2. The rank of cards, however, matters if two players hold the same kind of hand. Cards are
ranked from 2 or deuce at the lowest end to ace or A at the highest with 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
9, 10, J, Q and K in between. In some hands, an Ace or an A is taken to be the lowest card –
for example in a five-high straight with 5432A, the ace is considered as the lowest.
Let’s cut to the chase and understand all the possible poker hand sequences.
The hierarchy of poker hand rankings
The Royal Flush is the best poker hand you can have on a gaming table. If you hold an Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of the same suit (all of them should be spades or hearts or diamonds or clubs), then you have got a Royal Flush. This is the rarest of poker hands with odds of it occurring once in 649,737 times. The Royal Flush is the best Straight Flush and is the leader among poker hand rankings.
The Straight Flush is the second strongest poker hand. It’s a continuous poker hand sequence of five cards of the same suit – for example, a 10, 9, 8, 7 and 6. As we mentioned earlier, if two players hold the same category of poker hands, the High Card makes the difference. For example, a Straight Flush of J, 10, 9, 8, 7 beats a Straight Flush of 10, 9, 8, 7, 6. Odds: 1 in 72,193.
Four of a Kind
Four of a Kind
Weighing in next is Four of a Kind. In this hand, you hold four cards of the same rank – four Aces or four 10s or four 2s with one other card of a different rank. For example, four aces and an 8 (AAAA8) or four 10s and K. As mentioned earlier, card rank becomes decisive if two players hold the same hand -- four aces beat four kings and four 3s trump four 2s. Odds: 1:4164
Coming in fourth is the Full House is a combination of Three of a Kind (AAA) with a pair (KK). A hand holding AAAKK is the biggest Full House possible. This poker hand is also called Aces Full of Kings.
Sometimes ties occur in a Full House. Here’s how a Full House tie-breaker is applied:
If two players hold a Full House, then the one holding the higher triple wins.
If both players hold the same triple, the one holding the higher pair wins.
If both players hold the same triple and pair, it’s a tie and the pot is split.
For further clarity look at the following hands:
Player 1: QQQ33 (queens full of threes)
Player 2: JJJAA (jacks full of aces)
In the above, player 1 takes the pot since he has the higher triple (Queens full of 3s is better than Jacks full of aces).
Player 1: QQQ33
Player 2: QQQ22
In this case too, player 1 wins because while the triple are tied, he holds the higher pair (Queens full of 3s better than Queens full of 2s).
The Flush stands fifth in the hierarchy. If you hold five non-consecutive cards of the same suit, you have a Flush. For example, an A, 10, 9, 8, 7 of hearts is a Flush, just as a K, J, 8, 6, 5 of clubs is a Flush. If two players have a Flush, the High Card breaks the tie. In the case where two players have the same High Card, then the second highest card breaks the tie and so on. Odds: 1:508
A Straight is not the same as a Straight Flush. In a Straight Flush, you hold consecutive cards of the same suit. In a Straight, you hold consecutive cards of different suits. In this poker hand ranking, an ace high Straight is the highest possible. The lowest possible straight is a five-high straight as seen in the example. Straights are sixth in hand order. Odds: 1:253
Three of a Kind
Three of a Kind
Poker hands with three cards of the same rank are Three of a Kind and rank seventh in order. Our example shows three aces, with a king and a queen as side cards -- the best possible Three of a Kind. If two people have the same Three of a Kind, the side cards determine the winner. Odds: 1:46
Two Pairs comes in eighth. If you have two cards of the same rank paired with another set of two cards of the same rank with a kicker card, you are holding Two Pairs – for example, AAKK7. In a tie, the one holding the higher pair wins. If both hold the same high pair, the rank of the second pair is used to break the tie. If even that is tied, then the kicker card makes the difference.
For example, here are some pairs ordered by rank:
If you have two cards of the same rank and three other random cards, you are holding One Pair, which is ninth in poker hand rankings. For example: AAKQJ is the highest One Pair you can get. Odds: 1:1.36
If you have none of the nine hands above, you probably are holding just a High Card. In poker hand rankings, this is the lowest possible. Among High Cards, ace is highest and 7 the lowest. In fact, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2 is the lowest poker hand you can ever get. Odds: 1:.99
Most of these poker hand rankings and rules apply to five card poker especially its most popular variant – Texas Hold’em
Now that you know your poker card rankings, it’s time to test out your knowledge. You can try your hand at playing a real poker game from the several options we have for you on our website or app, including exciting tournaments that are suitable for beginners as well as experts.
There’s no better way to learn poker than on a live table.
ONLINE POKER FAQ
The article above has listed the poker hand rankings and the rank of cards (ace high to five high).
Just remember the following:
One Pair beats High Card
Two Pair beats One Pair
Three of a Kind beats Two Pair
Straight beats Three of a Kind
Flush beats Straight
Full House beats Flush
Four of a Kind beats Full House
Straight Flush beats Four or a Kind
Royal Flush beats a Straight Flush
No poker hand sequence can beat the Royal Flush.
This is a common misunderstanding among beginners to Texas Hold’em. A Flush, meaning cards of the same suit, always beats a Straight, meaning cards of different suits that have apoker sequence to them. However, a Straight Flush, meaning apoker hand orderthat has cards of the same suit in a sequence beats both a Flush and a Straight.
No, the colour of your suit does not matter. What matters is the poker hand order and the card rank.
In many card games, some suits are stronger than others. But in poker, all suits are equal -- be it spades or diamonds,hearts or clubs.
We hope you are now clear about all the poker hand rankings and poker card rankings. It’s time to get started on your playing journey. If you need help with that, visit our How to Play Pokerpage to prepare yourself for our many game rooms and tournaments. Best of luck.