What’s The Second Best Hand In Poker?

The second best possible hand in poker is a straight flush, right behind the famous and rare royal flush. Learn more about this unique poker hand!

what's the second best possible hand in poker?
What’s The Second Best Hand In Poker?

A player's chance of drawing the coveted royal flush is as incredibly small as winning a national lottery. With that in mind, how likely are you in drawing the second-best hand in poker?

Let us answer that question by looking at the probability of obtaining specific hands during a poker game.

What Is The Second Best Poker Hand?

A straight flush is a second-best hand in Hold'em Poker, five-card draw poker, or other non-lowball poker variants. To create this hand, you need five cards with the same suit and are in sequential order. Straight flush hands beat four of a kind hands, full house, straights, flushes, and other hands.  

To properly have a straight flush explained, let us look at the examples below.

  • 45678
  • 2345A
  • 678910

As the name indicates, the second-best hand in a cash game or tournament is a combination of both a straight and a flush hand. Take note that the best possible poker hand to outrank this hand is another straight flush consisting of face cards and an ace called the royal flush. An example of the royal flush is AKQJ10.

While straight flushes are the second-best hand in common poker variants, it is considered the third-best hand in poker rules that uses a joker card as a wild card. In wild card variants, a five of a kind consisting of a joker and four similar cards can beat both a royal flush and a straight flush.

Probability of a Straight Flush

Calculating the chances of drawing a straight flush during a game depends on the poker variant you are playing. For this example, we are going to determine the odds of a straight flush during a five-card draw or five-card stud.

There are 52 cards in a deck and each player is given five cards in each round. With the parameters set, we need to get the number of possible hand combinations by using equation c(52,5). Using the formula should give us a total of 2,598,960 possible hands during a game of five-card draw.

Another part of the equation we need to consider is the number of ways you can form a straight flush. You can form 9 hands out of a single suit, which is nearly the same as the number of straight hands you can form minus the one for a royal flush. We multiply 9 by 4 to consider the other three suits and you should get 36 ways to form a straight flush out of a 52 deck.

Divide the frequency of 36 to the 2,598,960 possible hands (36/2,598,960). You should get a 0.00139% probability of straight flush poker hand during a five-card draw game.

When it comes to Texas Hold'Em, you have a better chance at getting a straight flush because of the number of cards available to players. Unlike five-card draw, you have two hole cards and five community cards available to you. With 7 cards out of a 52 deck, the number of possible hands is up to 133,784,560.

There are still 36 straight flushes you can form out of a 52 carded deck during Texas Hold'em. Multiplying the number of possible hands you can create with 7 cards with the number of straight flushes available (36/133,784,560), the odds of getting this hand is 0.0278%. This probability is the reason why straight flushes are more frequent during Hold'em games.

Odds of a Straight Flush
Probability of a Straight Flush

Betting Strategy for Straight Flush Flop

Since a straight flush flop occurs frequently in Texas Hold'em, let us consider how you can capitalize on the second-best hand in poker.

Let us use this scenario.


10 9

You have a good card range to be the pre-flop aggressor with this hand. If you are on the button or in one of the earliest positions, only raise if your opponents are playing loosely and aggressively (LAG). Tight and aggressive (TAG) players are an indication to check only when in an early position.


10 9

8 K J

Flop cards such as these have you set for a backdoor straight flush or even a regular flush/straight hand. Do a continuation bet when you are against LAG opponents while you are on the button. Otherwise, check/raise when your opponents bet post-flop. Players who bet may have a top pair with the kings or are also in range for a straight and flush backdoor draw.


10 9

8 K J A

At this point, you do not have a hand and are relying on the river draw for a straight or flush. Re-raise anyone making a bet during the turn. Applying pressure can discourage players holding a king or ace pair to continue towards the river.


10 9

8 K J A J

If you have been doing C-bets or 3 bets, do a value bet on the river to get players who have been calling your bets to add more chips to the pot. When you have TAG players check/calling other players during the previous streets, bet half the pot to encourage tight players to take the risk of a possible straight flush.

Second Best Possible Hand In Poker
Straight Flush - All About The Second Best Possible Hand In Poker

Understanding the probabilities of a straight flush can help you with your poker strategies. You can also elevate your chances of winning any poker game when you are familiar with the hand ranges and how to deal with different kind of opponents.

This article was published on April 24, 2021, and last updated on April 11, 2021.