It is important to learn the poker hand rankings as the player with the highest value hand of those left after the last round of betting wins the pot for that game. Knowing what makes a strong hand will help you decide whether to keep calling and raising or whether you should fold and save your cash for a hand with more potential.
Poker hands in most variations of the game comprise five cards, with rankings ranging from a hand where you are relying on nothing better than a high card to the rare, unbeatable royal flush.
Here are the traditional winning hands for games such as Texas Hold‘em, Seven-Card Stud, Omaha and Five-Card Draw, ranked in order from the most valuable to the least valuable:
A straight flush contains five cards of the same suit in numerical order, with the highest ranking hand winning if two players tie. The best possible straight flush is ten, jack, queen, king and ace, all of the same suit. This is known as a royal flush and cannot be beaten in a standard single-deck game.
Example: A♥ K♥ Q♥ J♥ 10♥
Collecting four cards of the same rank is called four of a kind. If another player has four of a kind as well, the highest-ranking cards win.
Example: 10♣ 10♠ 10♥ 10♦ 7♥
This a hand consisting of three cards of the same rank and a further pair of another rank. In a tie, the player with the highest ranking of the three matching cards takes the pot.
Example: 9♥ 9♣ 9♠ 6♦ 6♥
If you find yourself with five cards of the same suit, but which are not consecutive, you have a flush. The player with the highest-ranking card in their hand wins if there is another flush at the table.
Example: 3♣ 5♣ 8♣ J♣ K♣
This hand contains five cards in numerical order, but not all of the same suit. The ace can be high or low and the player with the highest-ranking card wins if there is a tie.
Example: 6♥ 7♦ 8♥ 9♣ 10♠
Three of a kind sees you holding three cards of the same rank, with the highest rank determining the winner in a tie.
Example: J♠ J♣ J♥ 4♦ 2♠
This means that you are holding two cards of the same rank along with two further cards of a different matching rank. The highest pair clinches the hand in the event of a tie, with the highest side card determining the winner should both players have the same ranking pairs.
Example: 10♣ 10♠ K♣ K♥ 4♦
If you have “one pair”, you are holding a hand containing two cards of the same rank. The highest rank wins if more than one player reveals a pair, with the highest side card deciding the outcome if the pairs match in rank.
Example: J♦ J♦ 4♥ 7♣ K♠
If no one round the table qualifies for any of the above, the highest ranking card wins.
Example: 2♥ 5♣ 9♠ 3♦ A♥
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