Poker Suit Order

Suits are commonly used to create poker hands. There are other uses of poker suits in variants and in special scenarios within regular games.

ranking of poker suit
Poker Suit Order

While most people think that the suits in poker are just there to tell them apart, there is actually a poker suit order that needs to be followed in certain poker variants.

We'll be looking at what those situations are and what order the suits are in.

Poker Suit Explained

Poker suit

A suit in poker is the term to describe the symbols on each card (spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs), and differentiate cards of the same rank (2, 3, 4, etc.). When do they matter during any poker game? The suits are used when making certain poker hands.

For example, if you have five cards of the same suit but of random ranks (e.g. 2, 5, 9, J, A), then that is called a flush.

If you have five cards of the same suit and in rank order (e.g. 6, 7, 8, 9, T), then that is called a straight flush. This is the second-best possible hand in poker.

If you have the best five cards all of the same suit (e.g. T, J, Q, K, A), then that is called a royal flush and is the best hand possible in the game. The probability of getting this hand in any game is 1 in 649,740, making it the rarest combination of cards.

When playing flop games such as Hold'em, Omaha, a 6+, the suit you have has no impact on the strength of your starting hand as there can only ever be one flush available per hand.

When the Poker Suit Order Matters

However, there are times when the suits in your hand do matter and for those occasions, there is a set order where specific suits in your hand beat the rest. The order of the suits from strongest to weakest is Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs. An easy way to remember the order is that it's in reverse alphabetical order.

There are games where it's possible for the suit of your hand to matter are the Stud games such as Razz, 7 Card Stud, and Stud Hi-Lo, as well as games such as a five-card draw. This is because in these games it's possible for two players to have the exact same hand ranking with different suits.

For example, in 7 Card Stud, two players can have the same flush/straight flush hand, as each player plays five cards from their personal seven-card board. In these situations, the winner of the pot is the player who has the best suit. So if Player A has 7 8 9 T J and Player B has 7 8 9 T J, then Player B will win the pot as they have the highest suit.

Another time where suits matter is determining the action in stud games. Stud games are unique in the way they're played as there is no button/blind system and some of the players' cards are face up for everyone to see. 

At the start of a stud/razz hand, each player is dealt two cards face down and one face up (called an up-card). The person with the lowest up-card in Stud (highest up-card in Razz), is forced to "bring in" for the amount of the lowest table bet and will be last to act on that street.

On each street, the player with the best "showing" hand (the strength of the hand comprised of only their up-cards) is first to act. In the event that two players have the exact same up-cards, the suits are used to decide who is first to act, with the player who has the strongest suit with their highest card being the one to act first.

Other Scenarios for Poker Suit Order

Aside from these Stud games, there are times in more popular poker variant rules that took account of the suits.

Determining the Button Position

At the start of a cash game in Texas Hold'em or Pot Limit Omaha within US gambling sites, the dealer draws cards to determine which player will be the button for the first hand. In the event that two players are tied, the dealer will award the button to the player with the strongest suit.

For example, if Player A draws the A and Player B draws the A, Player B will be awarded the button.

Deciding on the Split Pot Distribution

In split-pot games such as Omaha 8 or Better, sometimes the pot won't be able to be split evenly between the two players due to a lack of low denomination chips. In the event of this happening, the "odd" chip will be given to the player with the highest suit in their hand.

This only happens in live games where casinos might not carry 50c chips to be able to split a $27 pot evenly.

Razz Poker Strategies

If the talk of Razz and Stud poker variants has piqued your interest in the game - here are some tips to help you get started.

Be Aggressive

This is a great strategy for any form of poker you play and remains great advice in Razz. By being aggressive, you give yourself two chances to win the pot - by making your opponent fold or by winning the pot at a showdown. Being aggressive in Razz is important because equities run close together meaning that giving your opponent free cards allows them to realize a lot of equity for free.

There are also times when the up-cards alone can win you a hand. If you have relatively mediocre cards in the hole but good up-cards, being aggressive can make your opponent fold a better hand. It pays to slightly widen your hand range to put the pressure on others while not opening yourself to strong post-flops or river draws.

For example, if you have J8 in the hole but show 325, by betting you may be able to get your opponent to fold a weak ten - such as 86 T74.

Know your Starting Hand

Knowing the strength of your starting hand is something that's going to come with experience and will take a bit of getting used to, especially if you're used to playing flop games such as Texas Hold'em. In Razz, you're trying to make the lowest hand possible so you want to have hands with an A, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 in them.

Don't be put off by having a high card in your hand if you've got two very low cards to go with it. Some new players might fold a hand like K32 because of the king, but with two of the lowest cards possible in your hand, you have the potential to make a very strong hand.

Take Note of Your Opponent's Bets

Understanding how your opponent plays and adjusting your game to best exploit that is the skill that separates a decent poker player from a great one. In a game such as Razz where aggression is so prevalent, it can be hard to find the players who are being overly aggressive but it should be easy to find the tight, timid players who won't play unless they have three to a very low hand.

When playing against these ultra-tight players, try and get as many free cards as possible to realize your equity and don't draw to the marginal hands that you would against aggressive players. The upside to playing these players is that they're very easily bullied off their hands in the early streets so be aggressive on third and fourth street but slow down if they stick around until fifth.

While there is a poker suit order, it's not something that will affect you very often if you stick to flop games such as Texas Hold'em, and is even a rare occurrence in the games where it does matter.

This article was published on July 13, 2022, and last updated on June 30, 2022.