Poker is a popular card game that requires skill, patience, and knowledge of hand rankings to be successful. Hand rankings are an essential aspect of poker, as they determine which player has the better hand in any given situation. This article will delve into the various hand ranks, from the highest to the lowest, and help you build a strong foundation for your poker game. The article also extends to other poker variants like Pot Limit Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and Razz Poker.
When I first started playing poker, I had no idea about the hierarchy of hand rankings. I just knew that a flush beat a straight, and a full house beat pretty much everything. As I’ve gotten more into poker, I’ve come to appreciate how the hand rankings add complexity and strategy to the game. But for beginners, all those hands can be downright confusing. But, if you don’t know the difference between a straight and a flush or that three-of-a-kind beats two pairs, you’ll be cleaned out. Here’s the short version, from best to last:
Standard Poker Hands
There are several standard poker hands that a player needs to know to play the game properly. The hands rank from highest to lowest as follows:
The highest possible hand consists of the A, K, Q, J, and 10 of the same suit. This unbeatable hand is extremely rare and is the best hand a player can achieve.
This hand consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit, such as 5-6-7-8-9 of hearts. The highest straight flush, the royal flush, is a special case.
Four of a Kind3
This hand contains four cards of the same rank, such as four kings or four sevens.
A full house consists of a three-of-a-kind and a pair together, such as three 8s and two 5s.
A flush hand consists of five cards of the same suit, not in sequence, such as five clubs or five diamonds.
This hand contains five consecutive cards of any suit, such as 3-4-5-6-7 or 10-J-Q-K-A.
Three of A Kind7
Also known as a “set” or “trips,” this hand contains three cards of the same rank, such as three kings or three 4s.
This hand has two pairs of different ranks, such as two 9s and two 4s.
A hand with a single pair of the same rank, such as two 5s.
In the absence of any of the above hands, the highest card in the hand determines its value, such as an ace-high hand.
Purpose of Hand
Rankings in Poker
Hand rankings serve as the foundation of the game of poker, determining the winner of a particular hand. In most variations of poker, the player with the highest hand wins. Hand rankings standardize the way in which hands are compared to determine the winner of a hand or game. By understanding hand rankings, players can assess the strength of their hand relative to opponents’ hands and make strategic decisions based on the likelihood of having the best hand by the end of a round of play.
Hand rankings also help players identify possible hands that can be made using the community cards and their hole cards in games like Texas Hold’em and Omaha. They ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules, which creates consistency and fairness in the game.
Hand Ranking Odds
Royal Flush:- Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten in the same suit. There is only one possible Royal Flush in each suit, making a total of four possible Royal Flushes in a standard deck. The probability of getting a Royal Flush is around 0.000154%, or once in every 649,740 hands. Due to its rarity and high ranking, a Royal Flush is considered unbeatable in poker.
Straight Flush:- A Straight Flush is five consecutive cards of the same suit. Unlike a Royal Flush, the value of cards in a Straight Flush varies, with the highest card determining the strength of the hand. The probability of getting a Straight Flush is about 0.00139%, or once in every 72,193 hands. If two or more players hold Straight Flushes, the player with the highest card wins the pot.
Four of a Kind:- The value of the four similar cards determines the strength of the hand. In the event of a tie, the player with the highest kicker takes the pot. The probability of obtaining Four of a Kind is around 0.0240% or once in every 4,165 hands.
Full House:- Made up of three of a kind and a pair. The value of the three similar cards determines the strength of the hand, with the player holding the highest set winning in case of a tie. The odds of getting a Full House are approximately 0.1441%, or once in every 694 hands.
Flush:- Five non-consecutive cards of the same suit. The highest card in the hand determines the strength of the Flush. If there is a tie between Flushes, the second, third, fourth, and finally, the fifth-highest card is considered to break the tie. The probability of being dealt a Flush is roughly 0.197%, or once in every 509 hands.
Straight:- Five consecutive cards of varying suits. The strength of the Straight is determined by the highest card in the sequence. If two players have Straights, the one with the highest card wins. The odds of obtaining a Straight stand at about 0.3925% or once in every 255 hands.
Three of a Kind:- Also known as a set or trips, comprises three cards of the same rank and two other unrelated cards. The value of the three similar cards determines the strength of the hand, and the highest set wins in case of a tie. The probability of getting Three of a Kind is approximately 2.11%, or once in every 47 hands.
Two Pair:- The highest pair determines the strength of the hand, and the player with the highest top pair wins in case of a tie. If the top pair is equal, the second pair or kicker comes into play. The odds of being dealt Two Pair are around 4.75% or once in every 21 hands.
One Pair:- Two cards of the same rank and three other unrelated cards. The value of the pair determines the strength of the hand, with the next highest card (kicker) winning in the case of a tie. The probability of getting One Pair is approximately 42.26%, or once in every 2.4 hands.
High Card:- A poker hand that does not fit into any of the above categories. The highest card in the hand determines the strength of the High Card hand. As a last resort, the second, third, fourth, and fifth-highest cards are considered to break a tie. The odds of being dealt only a High Card are about 50.12%, or once in every two hands.
High Card and Low Card Hands
In certain variations of poker, high-card and low-card hands have specific significance. In high-low split games, such as Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, the pot is split between the highest and lowest hand. Low hands often have their ranking apart from the standard poker hand rankings. One common low-hand ranking system is the “Ace to Five” method, also known as the “California” system.
To qualify as a low hand in this system, a hand must consist of five unpaired cards with ranks of eight or lower. Straights and flushes don’t count against the low hand. The best possible low hand is A-2-3-4-5 (known as a “wheel” or “bicycle”), regardless of the cards’ suits.
Recognizing the strength of high and low hands is crucial in games where both are rewarded. Players should learn the game-specific rules and hand rankings before playing to maximize their chances of success.
Definition and Importance of Straight Flush Hands
In the game of poker, a straight flush is a hand that consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit. This type of hand is considered the second strongest hand in standard poker games such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha poker, only trailing behind the highly sought-after royal flush, which is the best possible hand in the game. A straight flush is a rare occurrence, with the odds of getting a straight flush in a standard five-card poker game being approximately 1 in 64,974. This rarity only adds to the importance of the hand, making it a highly valued combination that can secure impressive winnings for a player who can achieve it.
Understanding the power of a straight flush hand becomes important for players not just to get their hand on a winning combination but also to avoid falling into traps set by opponents who may be holding a strong hand. Knowing the rarity of a straight flush, players may attempt to bluff their way into winning a round, taking advantage of the resulting fear and uncertainty that comes into play when players are faced with the possibility of competing against a straight flush holder. So, being familiar with this hand category and recognizing its warning signs are crucial for success in poker games.
Identifying Various Straight Flush Hands
To identify a straight flush hand, you must look for five cards that are consecutive in rank and are of the same suit. Examples of straight flushes include the following:
1) 5-6-7-8-9 of Clubs, 2) 10-J-Q-K-A of Diamonds, 3) 2-3-4-5-6 of Hearts, 4) 9-10-J-Q-K of Spades
It is important to remember that an Ace can function as a high or low card in a straight flush. As mentioned earlier, the highest-ranked straight flush is the royal flush, which consists of the Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit. A low straight flush, on the other hand, has an Ace acting as a 1 in the order, such as A-2-3-4-5 of Hearts.
Comparing Straight Flush Hands
In the event that two or more players have a straight flush hand, the hand’s highest card determines the winner. The higher the card value, the stronger the straight flush. For example, if one player has a straight flush with the highest card being the 8 of Spades (5-6-7-8-9 of Spades), and another player has a straight flush with the highest card being the Queen of Diamonds (8-9-10-J-Q of Diamonds), the player with the Queen of Diamonds would win the round.
However, if the players have the same straight flush (meaning they both have the same highest and lowest cards in the straight flush, which can happen in community card games like Texas Hold’em), the pot is split equally among the players. For instance, if two players have a straight flush of 4-5-6-7-8 of Hearts, they both share the winnings.
Definition and Importance
of Royal Flush
A Royal Flush is the highest-ranking poker hand in a game of Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Seven Card Stud. It consists of the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten of the same suit (for example, all hearts or all spades). It is an extremely rare hand, and when a player has one, they are almost guaranteed to win the round.
The importance of a Royal Flush cannot be overstated in poker games, as it is the ultimate hand players strive to achieve. The odds of being dealt a Royal Flush are incredibly slim; therefore, when a player is fortunate enough to hold one, it is considered a massive advantage. This is because no other traditional poker hand can beat a Royal Flush, so if a player has this hand, it signifies that they hold the absolute best cards in play.
Knowing the Royal Flush is an essential part of any successful poker player’s arsenal. Not only does it provide the means to identify the best hand possible, but it also offers players the opportunity to make informed decisions during gameplay. Assessing the probabilities of achieving a Royal Flush allows players to gauge when to make strategic moves, such as bluffing or folding, during a game.
Being able to identify a Royal Flush is a critical skill in poker. Although the rarity of this hand means it is unlikely to occur frequently in games, recognizing the potential for one can greatly impact a player’s approach to a round. Identifying a Royal Flush hand involves evaluating the following factors:
The Suit: A Royal Flush must be made of cards all from the same suit. If a player notices that they have multiple high-ranking cards of the same suit, such as Ace and Queen of Spades, they should be alert to the possibility of a Royal Flush hand.
The Individual Cards: In addition to having cards of the same suit, a Royal Flush requires exactly the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten. If a player is holding two or more of these cards in their hand (or if they are part of the community cards on the board), the possibility of a Royal Flush increases significantly.
The Community Cards: In games like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud, community cards are dealt face-up on the table. Players should continuously monitor the board for the appearance of the necessary cards for a Royal Flush. If the board displays several high-ranking cards of the same suit, the chances of a Royal Flush occurring increase.
Opponent’s Actions: Players should watch their opponents’ actions closely, looking for indications that someone may be holding a Royal Flush hand. If an opponent seems overly confident, starts raising bets significantly, or appears to be excited, these may signal that they have a strong hand. While this may not necessarily mean a Royal Flush, it’s vital to be aware of the potential and to make informed decisions in response.
Probability of getting
a Royal Flush
The probability of being dealt a Royal Flush is relatively low, which adds to its prestige as the best hand in poker. In a game of Texas Hold’em, the odds of getting a Royal Flush are approximately 1 in 30,939, which is equivalent to a 0.0032% chance. In Omaha, the probability increases slightly to about 1 in 649,740, or 0.000154% chance. Finally, in Seven Card Stud, the odds are 1 in 649,740, the same as in Omaha.
Though the probability of attaining a Royal Flush is significantly low, understanding the odds is important to develop a sound poker strategy. Using this information, players can make informed decisions by comparing the likelihood of achieving a Royal Flush with other hands and making calculated risks in bets and moves throughout the game. Additionally, knowing the slim chances of receiving a Royal Flush can help players avoid becoming overly focused on waiting for the perfect hand and instead adapt their playstyle to maximize their chances of winning.
Other Poker Variants
and Hand Rankings
Poker is a popular game played with standard 52-card decks, and most people are familiar with the typical Texas Hold’em version. However, there are various other poker variants that players can enjoy, with some having unique hand rankings. Here, we’ll discuss the hand rankings of three such poker variants: Pot Limit Omaha, Seven Card Stud, and Razz Poker.
Pot Limit Omaha Hand Rankings
Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) is a similar game to Texas Hold’em as it shares the same core rules and hand rankings. However, instead of the standard two-hole cards, each player is dealt four-hole cards, and they need to use exactly two of their hole cards and three community cards to create their best five-card hand.
Due to the increased hole cards, Pot Limit Omaha games often have bigger pot sizes and action-filled pots. Despite the change in hole cards, PLO uses the same hand rankings as Texas Hold’em:
Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10, all of the same suit.
Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit (e.g., 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, all in hearts).
Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank (e.g., K, K, K, K).
Full House: Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank (e.g., Q, Q, Q, 3, 3).
Flush: Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence (e.g., 2, 4, 7, J, Q, all in spades).
Straight: Five consecutive cards of different suits (e.g., 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).
Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank (e.g., 7, 7, 7).
Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank (e.g., A, A, 8, 8).
One Pair: Two cards of the same rank (e.g., K, K).
High Card: The highest card in a hand without any of the above combinations.
Seven Card Stud Hand Rankings
Seven Card Stud is another poker variant that uses a 52-card deck. In this game, each player receives seven private cards—three down cards (known only to the player) and four up cards (visible to all players). The hand rankings for Seven Card Stud are the same as those for Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. However, what sets Seven Card Stud apart is the absence of community cards and a fixed-limit betting structure.
Players need to create their best five-card hand using the seven cards dealt to them, keeping in mind the hand rankings mentioned above. Although Seven Card Stud is not as popular as it once was, it remains an essential part of mixed poker games like H.O.R.S.E.
Razz Poker Hand Rankings
Razz Poker, unlike the other poker variants discussed here, is a lowball game where the goal is to create the lowest-ranking hand possible instead of the highest-ranking one. Played similarly to Seven Card Stud, Razz Poker has players aiming to make the best (lowest) five-card hand out of the seven cards dealt to them.
The hand rankings in Razz Poker are as follows:
Wheel (Five High): A, 2, 3, 4, 5 (deemed the best possible hand in Razz Poker).
Six Low: A hand containing the lowest five unpaired cards, with the highest card being a Six (e.g., A, 2, 3, 4, 6).
Seven Low: A hand containing the lowest five unpaired cards, with the highest card being a Seven (e.g., A, 2, 3, 5, 7).
And so on, up to hands containing face cards (K, Q, J) as the highest cards. Straights and flushes do not count against the player in Razz, as it is a lowball game. Moreover, the Ace is always counted as a low card in Razz Poker, making it the lowest possible card in the game.
Tips for Remembering
Hand rankings are essential for any poker player to quickly and accurately determine the strength of their hand. Memorizing these rankings is a critical skill for both beginners and seasoned poker players alike. Here are some valuable tips on how to remember hand rankings more efficiently, using techniques such as mnemonics, memory aids, and practice to build your poker prowess.
Mnemonics and Memory Techniques
Mnemonics are proven memory techniques that help with remembering information. They usually involve turning complex or abstract information into simpler, more easily recalled constructs such as acronyms, associations, or rhymes. Here are some popular mnemonic techniques to help you master hand rankings with ease:
Acronyms: Create a catchy word or phrase using the first letters from each hand ranking. For example, the phrase “Royal Flush Always Wins” can help you remember the four top poker hands: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, and Full House.
Rhymes: Come up with a creative or silly rhyme linking the hand rankings. For example, “A Royal Flush is mighty lush, a Straight Flush not so much.” This will make it easier for your mind to connect the information and recall it later.
Association: Associate each hand ranking with a vivid image or character that is easy to remember. For instance, picture a king for a Royal Flush, a race car driver for a Straight Flush, and a lion for Four of a Kind.
The Method of Loci: Also known as the memory palace technique, this method involves associating information with specific locations in a familiar environment, such as your living room or a route you walk regularly. Try placing each hand ranking in a specific location and mentally “walking through” the scene to recall the rankings.
Flashcards: Write each hand ranking on a separate index card, along with its strength relative to other hands. Shuffle the cards and review them regularly, both in order and randomly. Flashcards force active recall, a powerful method for strengthening memory.
Practice and Experience:
As with any skill or knowledge, practice is key to understanding and remembering hand rankings. The more you play poker, the more natural it becomes to assess the strength of your hand quickly. Here are some tried and tested ways to gain more poker experience and improve your memory of hand rankings:
Play with Friends: Organizing regular poker games with friends or colleagues is an excellent way to gain real-life experience and cement your hand-ranking knowledge.
Online Poker: Online poker platforms offer the chance to play numerous hands in a relatively short amount of time, helping you quickly build your hand-ranking memory.
Poker Apps and Games: Many poker apps and video games are available for mobile devices, tablets, and gaming consoles. These provide opportunities to play and practice poker during downtime, such as while waiting for an appointment or commuting to work.
Read Books and Watch Videos: Numerous books, articles, and instructional videos on poker provide valuable insights into hand rankings and strategies. Regularly reading or watching poker-related content will reinforce your knowledge and help solidify the information in your mind.
Study Hand Histories: Reviewing hand histories, whether yours or those of professional players, is a great way to learn from past games and unravel the complexities of hand rankings. Look for patterns and common mistakes and apply this knowledge to your gameplay.
Mastering hand rankings in poker is a combination of memory techniques, such as mnemonics and flashcards, and gaining practical experience through playing the game. Remember, practice makes perfect, and the more you play poker, the more naturally and effectively you will navigate hand-ranking scenarios. So, take advantage of every opportunity to build and solidify your knowledge, whether online or during a friendly game with friends.
What is the highest-ranking hand in poker?
The highest-ranking hand in poker is the royal flush. A royal flush consists of the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten, all of the same suit, such as all hearts or all spades.
How are the four basic hand rankings ordered in poker?
The four basic hand rankings in poker are ordered by increasing strength as follows: high card, one pair, two pair, and three-of-a-kind. A high card is the weakest hand, while a three-of-a-kind is stronger.
How do full houses and flushes compare in the poker hand ranking hierarchy?
Full houses and flushes are both high-ranking hands in poker. A full house ranks above a flush, with a full house consisting of three cards of the same rank combined with two cards of another rank, while a flush has five cards of the same suit.
What is the role of kickers in determining hand rankings in poker?
Kickers play a critical role in determining hand rankings in poker when players have similar hands. A kicker is an additional card used to break ties between hands of the same rank by comparing the highest-ranked kickers from each player’s hand.
How are four-of-a-kind hands ranked in poker?
Four-of-a-kind hands are ranked based on the value of the four cards of the same rank. The higher the rank of these four cards, the stronger the hand. For example, four Aces is the highest-ranked four-of-a-kind hand.
In what scenario will a poker hand be determined by the highest card, regardless of other factors?
When all players have no other ranking hands, such as pairs or flushes, the poker hand is determined by the highest card. In this scenario, the player holding the highest-ranked card wins the hand.
What are the five hand rankings in poker?
The five hand rankings in poker are Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a kind, Full House, and Flush. Royal Flush is the highest poker hand, consisting of five cards of the same suit in sequence. Straight Flush is five cards of the same suit in sequence. Four of a kind is four cards of the same rank, while Full House is a combination of three of a kind and a pair. Flush is a hand with five cards of the same suit.
What are the ten poker rankings?
The top 10 poker rankings start with a royal flush, followed by a straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and high card. These rankings determine the strength of hands in the game of poker.
What is statistically the best hand in poker?
Statistically, the best hand in poker is the Royal Flush, which consists of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10 of the same suit. While it is rare to obtain, the Royal Flush is highly coveted and considered the strongest hand due to its unbeatable combination of straight flush and high-ranking cards. It remains an iconic symbol in the game of poker.
What is the ranking pattern in poker?
The ranking pattern in poker starts with a straight (royal and flush), followed by four of a kind, full house, flush, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and ends with a high card. Understanding the poker hand rankings is crucial for successful gameplay.