Poker Hands

A Poker hand is a combination made up of five playing cards. Poker hands are ranked based on the cards they contain, both their values and suits.

A poker hand is a combination made up of five playing cards. Poker hands are ranked based on the cards they contain, both their respective values and suits. There are ten Poker hands in total, ranked from High Card to the most prized Royal Flush.

Whilst there are many different poker variants, nearly all of them agree on the very same poker hand hierarchy. A Poker hand’s strength or rank is decided by its likelihood of being drawn. Therefore, the more likely a hand is to occur, the lower it will rank. These probabilities are often expressed as poker hand odds.

Singular cards rank, from the lowest value to the highest, as 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, and the Ace. The Ace can also be used in Poker as a One and start a straight (e.g. A2345). Some casual poker variants include wild cards in the deck so we have also added the five of a kind hand in the below list.

Poker Hand Rankings

The ten Poker hands rank from High Card (the lowest) to Royal Flush (the highest). The complete Poker hand ranking table is as follows from the highest ranking hand to the lowest:

RankNameExampleFrequencyProbability
1Royal FlushAKQJ1040.000154%
2Straight Flush76543360.00139%
3Four of a Kind10AAAA6240.0240%
4Full House999JJ3,7440.1441%
5Flush24710Q5,1080.1965%
6Straight5678910,2000.3925%
7Three of a Kind222JK54,9122.1128%
8Two PairJJAA2123,5524.7539%
9PairJJ10721,098,24042.2569%
10High Card25610Q1,302,54050.1177%
List of all Poker hands from the highest ranking hand to the lowest, with examples.

The Frequency shows the number of ways to draw that specific hand, which includes the different suits the hand could be drawn. For example, there are four Royal Flush hands in a deck (one for each suit).

The Probability percentages in the table represent the chance of obtaining this exact hand. Another metric we did not include is called the Cumulative probability. It the likelihood of obtaining that specific hand or better. This measure is basically the addition (“cumulative”) of its own probability with the sum of the probabilities of all the hands above that hand.

Knowing these measures allows you to understand better some important aspects of playing poker and having a winning poker strategy. Odds, outs, and expected value are all important concepts in the mathematics of poker.

Ties

A tie occurs when two or more players have the same Poker hand. For example, two players may draw a pair of seven’s each. Or, two players can draw a three of a kind each. And with several players around a table, ties commonly occur.

In case of a tie with the very same Poker hand, one should assess the values of the cards forming the winning combination. The highest denomination will win. In case both have the same values, the highest denomination of the remaining cards –the kicker– will break the tie.

For a straight tie, the highest-ranking card’s value at the top of the sequence breaks the tie. For a flush tie, the highest-ranking card in each player’s hand breaks the tie.

Player A’s HandPlayer B’s HandWinnerWhy
JJ8421010Q94AJack’s beat 10’s
KK962KKQ93BQueen beats 9
33369222AKA3’s beat 2’s
45678678910B10’s beat 8’s
666QQ333KKA6’s beat 8’s
JJ862JJ864B4’s beat 2’s
4710QA4710QAPot SplitNo kicker, no tie-breaker
Examples of tie-breaking in Poker.

Kicker Cards

In Poker, a kicker is a card that is part of the hand but isn’t part of the winning combination. It is often used as a tie-breaker between two tied players who have drawn the same winning combination.

Ties in Community Card Poker Variants

In Poker variants that use community cards, like Texas Hold’em, it is possible that players may be tied through and through, with no way to break them apart. In such occurrences, card suits are never used as tie-breakers, therefore the pot can be split evenly between the tied players.

List of All Poker Hands

There are ten Poker hands yet, each one of them has its own particularities and its own way of deciding on a winner in case of a tie. This section review each hand, one by one, with example and also a clear explainer on breaking ties.

High Card

A high card is a poker hand in which no other combination was possible so the highest card of the five-card hand becomes the hand. A high card is the lowest Poker hand and rank right below a pair.

In case of a tie between high cards, players go to the second-highest card and compare the denominations. And so on, until there is a victor. If players have identical hands (e.g. 3589K and 3589K), then the pot will be split evenly between the players.

HandHand Name
22679nine-high
4910KAace-high
Examples of high-card hands in Poker.

Pair

A pair, or one pair, is a poker hand comprised of two cards of the same rank accompanied by three kickers of different ranks. A pair ranks above a high card and below two pairs.

In case of a tie, if players all have pairs but of different ranks (e.g. 33 vs AA), the highest-denomination pair wins (e.g. 1010 wins over 44). Kicker cards are used as tie-breakers if players have identical pairs (e.g. 77 vs 77); first by compared each player’s highest kicker, and if these are equal, the second-highest, and if needed, the third. If players have identical pairs and three same kickers, the pot will be split evenly.

A pair dealt pre-flow is often referred to as a pocket pair, such as pocket sevens (e.g. 77) or pocket kings (e.g. KK).

HandHand Name
QQ310Jpair of Queen’s
77J2Kpair of 7’s
Examples of one-pair hands in Poker.

Two Pair

Two pair is a Poker hand composed of a pair of the same denomination with another pair of a different denomination and a single kicker. A two-pair hand ranks above a pair but below a three of a kind.

In case of a tie, the value of the highest pair is used first. Then, the second pair, and finally, the kicker.

HandHand Name
99JJ5two pairs, 9’s and Jack’s
224410two pairs, 2’s and 4’s
Examples of two-pair hands in Poker.

Three of a Kind

A three of a kind is a Poker hand composed of three cards of the same rank along with two cards of different values used as kickers. It ranks above two pairs but below a straight.

In the case of a tie, the highest three of a kind wins. In community card poker variants, several players can have the same rank for their own three of a kind. Then, the kickers act as tie-breakers.

HandHand Name
AAA610three aces
10101025three tens
Examples of three of a kind hands in Poker.

In Texas Hold’em and other community card Poker variations, the “three of a kind” is also commonly called a set – but only when it is made from a pocket pair and a matching third card from the board. For example, the players was dealt JJ preflop and another 25J appeared on the board – the player scored a “set of Jacks”.

Straight

A straight is a Poker hand made of five cards of sequential rank but of different suits. It ranks above a three of a kind but below a flush.

Poker players refer to a straight using the highest card in the sequence, such as “jack-high straight” for 7h8sd910cJs. Colloquially, ace-high straights (AKQJ10) are called Broadway straights and five-high straights (A2345) are called baby straights.

Depending on the type of Poker variant you play Aces can rank differently.

RulesRanking of Aces in Straights
Highthe race can rank high, or low (but not both in the same hand)
Deuce-to-seven lowthe ace always ranks high
Ace-to-six low rulesthe ace always ranks low
Different rules on the ranking of Aces in Poker.

For Texas Hold’em Poker, the high rule stands so for any given hand, an Ace can be either:

  • low – e.g. Ac2h3d4h5h, or
  • high – e.g. 10cJhQdKhAh.

In case of a tie between two straights, the highest card will be used to decide on a winner. Because all suits are equal in Poker, straight hands that follow the same series but differ by suit alone are of equal rank (e.g. 34567 and 34567 are even and the pot would be split evenly between both players).

HandHand Name
78910Jjack-high straight
23456six-high straight
Examples of straight hands in Poker.

Flush

A flush is a Poker hand composed of five cards of the same suit but not consecutively following each other. It ranks above a straight but below a full house.

Poker players tend to refer to a flush with its highest card, such as “Ace-high flush” for 395JA.

In case of several flushes facing each other, each flush’s highest card is used as tie-breaker. If the highest card is the same, the second-highest card will be used. And so on, until a victor is announced. Therefore, it is possible for two flushes to be fully tied if they have the same values but different suits (e.g. 269JQ and 269JQ). Such ties result in the ot being split equally between these players.

HandHand Name
348JAace-high flush
710JQKking-high flush
Examples of flush hands in Poker.

Full House

A full house is a poker hand composed of a three of a kind accompanied by a pair. A full house ranks above a flush but below a four of a kind. A full house is also known as a full boat, a boat, or a full hand.

Poker players often use the two values when mentioning their full house, so 999JJ can be referred to as “nines-over-jacks”, “nines full of jacks”, or “nines full”.

In case of a tie, full houses are ranked by their three of a kind first, so the highest would win. Then, by the pair’s rank.

HandHand Name
KK444full house, fours-over-kings
33666full house, sixes full of threes
Examples of full house hands in Poker.

Four of a Kind

The four of a kind, also called quads, is a Poker hand that is composed of four cards of the same rank, and a kicker. It is ranked above a full house but below a straight flush.

In case of a tie, four of a kinds are judged first by the value of each quadruplet, and then by the rank of the kicker. For example, KKKK8 ranks higher than 10101010J which ranks higher than 101010103.

HandHand Name
AAAA8four of a kind, aces
3333Jfour threes
Examples of four of a kind hands in Poker.

Straight Flush

A straight flush is a Poker hand composed of five cards of sequential rank and of the very same suit. It is ranked above a four of a kind but below a royal flush and five of a kind.

Players commonly name a straight flush using its highest denomination, for example, “king-high straight flush” for 910JQK.

Just like a regular flush, and based on the set of rules used in your Poker variation, the ace cards may or may not be used as both high and low rank in the sequence of cards. In the most popular Poker variant, Texas Hold’em, aces can start a sequence (e.g. A2345) or end it (e.g. 10JQKA).

In the case of a tie, straight flushes are ranked by their highest denomination. Therefore, 678910 ranks higher than 45678. Note that because all suits are equal in Poker, two straight flushes of the same sequence but of different suits are tied and will result in an evenly split pot (e.g. to 678910 is ranked the same as 678910).

HandHand Name
8910JQqueen-high straight flush
56789nine-high straight flush
Examples of straight flush hands in Poker.

Five of a Kind

A five of a kind is a Poker hand that consists of four cards of the rank and a wild card (🃏). It is ranked above a straight flush but below a royal flush.

Whilst it is a Poker hand, the five of a kind is rarely allowed since most Poker types exclude all wild cards de facto making it impossible to make a five-of-a-kind hand.

Royal Flush

A royal flush is the highest-ranking Poker hand and consists of a sequence of a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace, all of which with the same suit. Essentially, a royal flush is a synonym for an ace-high straight flush such as AKQJ10. A royal flush ranks higher than any other straight flush.

Since there is no hierarchy of suits in Poker games, players holding a royal flush cannot lose their hand. They could only draw against another one of a different suit.

Note that a king-high straight flush is not accepted as a royal flush, as odd as it seems since it has a king in it.

HandHand Name
10JQKAroyal flush of hearts
10JQKAroyal flush of clubs
Examples of royal flush hands in Poker.

Poker Hands Chart

A beautiful visual summary of the hierarchy and rankings of the ten common combinations in the game of Poker. Use it as your poker hands cheat sheet!

poker hand rankings
Poker Hands – Rankings, Odds, Cheat Sheet & FAQ

Poker Hands – FAQ

Many Poker players can get a little confused initially with each Poker hand’s strength, and how to break various ties. We have gathered a lot of common questions novice players have about Poker hand combinations and answered them concisely.

What is the best hand in Poker?

In Poker, the Royal Flush is the absolute best hand. A deck of cards has four Royal Flush hands in it, one for each suit. In Poker hand rankings, you cannot lose when holding a Royal Flush, you could only tie.

How many different poker hands are there?

Poker has a total of ten ranked hands: High Card, Pair, Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, Straight Flush, and Royal Straight Flush.

What are the odds of getting a royal flush in Poker?

In Poker, the odds of being dealt a Royal Flush are 649,739 to 1. This is because there is only a 0.000154% chance of getting one of the four Royal Flushes available in a deck of cards.

Does a straight beat a flush in Poker?

A straight hand is beaten by a flush hand in Poker. Additionally, a royal flush beats a straight flush.

This is because, in the course of a Poker player’s lifetime, you will be dealt more straights than flushes, making a flush more valuable and therefore beating straights.

What suit ranks the highest in Poker?

In Poker, all four suits hold the same value. Therefore, diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades, all rank the same. Card suits cannot be used as kickers or tie-breakers in the game of Poker.

Do wild cards rank high in Poker?

In official Poker variants, there is no wild card in the deck.

In more casual environments such as in-home games, wild cards can be added to the deck and the player decides on the card it can represents. Wild cards, therefore, tend to substitute the best card for that player’s hand at the time.

What tie-breakers are used to split two identical hands in Poker?

When the same hands are facing each other, their denomination are compared and the highest wins the hand. If both denominations are identical, the highest denomination of the remaining cards –the kicker– will break the tie.

What is the suit of a Poker hand?

The four card suits in card games are spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds. In card games like Poker, the suit of a hand is its set of symbols.

Note that in Poker, the suit of a card has no value in and of itself. Spade is not better than any other suit, and vice versa.

How many cards are in a Poker hand?

A Poker hand is composed of five different cards. Some Poker variants, like Texas Hold’em, have community cards visible by all players. These community cards are used by players to compose their own five-card hands with their own private draw.

What is the best starting hand in Poker?

In Poker, pocket aces are the very best starting hand. Whilst being the strongest pair, it is also a good setup for both three or four of a kind, and a straight.

In “Play Poker Like the Pros”, the legendary Poker-player Phil Hellmuth lists AA, KK, AKs, QQ, and AK, as the top starting hands in Poker.

How many combinations of Poker hands are there?

There are 1,326 Poker hand combinations but many are of similar value with just the suits swapped. Therefore, there are only 169 distinct and non-equivalent hand combinations in Texas Hold’em Poker.

What hands should I fold in Poker?

Deciding on what hands one must fold depends on the player’s strategy and type of Poker gameplay. A cash game will require different moves and more or less risk than a Poker tournament.

Additionally, because Poker brings in an element of deception and bluff, it is important to account for these unknown facto the rs before making a decision. Professional Poker players often say, “play the players, not the cards”.

What is a five of a kind?

A five off a kind is a poker hand made up of four cards of identical rank completed by a wild card. Most variants of Poker do not allow wildcards so the five-of-a-kind hands are only found in more casual variations of the Poker game.

Understanding Poker hands takes a little bit of getting used to. Yet, it is only a basic step for any ambitious Poker player. Rankings of hands in Poker should become automatic when you see them – regardless of the suits or the ordering of the cards! Understanding how to play various starting hands and counting outs are some of the next topics to grasp to become more familiar with the various Poker strategies.