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Ranking of Poker Hands

With WSOP gamering TV audiences and Online Poker rooms dotting the internet, poker has seen a meteoric rise in popularity over the last few years, There are many different poker games, but all variations of the games use the same poker hand rankings to determine who has the best hand and wins the pot in the event of a showdown. In texas holdem you use your 2 hole cards combined with any cards on the board to make the best 5 card poker hand.

Royal Flush
The best possible hand in Poker. A straight flush with the highest cards Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10, all of the same suit. You wont get one of these often. Many online poker sites give a large bonus if you do, just as for example some snooker tournaments give extra bonus prize for a 147 break or a hole in 1 at golf.

Straight Flush
Any five card sequence in the same suit. For example 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, of spades or 9, 10, J, Q, K of hearts. Its very rare that you will make this hand.

Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same value e.g 2h, 2 d, 2 s, 2c. Another rare hand. Full House
When you have 3 of kind and a pair, e.g KKK and 22. If 2 players have a full house the one with the higher 3 of kind wins, for example KKK22 would beat 99944. Or if the 3 of kind is the same, then you look at the highest pair, so 99944 would beat 99922. A full house is a very strong hand and one you will see most times you play.

Is when you have any five cards of the same suit, e.g 4, 6, 7, Q, K of spades. The player with the highest flush card wins, so if someone else had a flush with the A, they would beat the king high flush shown.

Five kinds that run in sequence, for example 4h, 5d, 6d, 7s, 8c. They must run in sequence but can be of any suit. An Ace can play both as a high card or low card. WHen 2 players have straight the player with the highest straight wins, so 6c,7d,8s,9h,Th a Ten high straight beating my first example of an 8 high straight.

Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same value e.g QQQ. If more than 1 player has a 3 of kind the highest 3 of kind wins. Also there as 2 ways you can make a 3 of kind. The first 1 is if you have a pocket pair and hit a set on the flop. The other is when the flop features a pair and you have one giving you trips.

Two Pair
When you make 2 lots of pairs, e.g AA77. When 2 players have 2 pairs the player with the highest pair wins, e.g AA77 would beat KKJJ.

When you have 2 cards of the same value e.g JJ If 2 players or more have a pair the highest pair wins, so 99 would beat 88.

High Card
When no one makes a pair or better then the player with the highest card wins.

There will be many times when players make what appears to be the same hand, but remember in poker the best 5 card poker hand wins so sometimes a kicker is used to determine who wins the pot.

Split pots

Sometimes players will have the same hands and the pot will be split between those players. It can sometimes be confusing to a beginner quite when a pot will be split. What you have to remember is that the winning hand is the best 5 card poker, this hand can be made up from your 2 hole cards as well as the 5 cards on the board, it doesnt matter which 5 cards you use, even if you are only using the 5 cards on the board. Lets have a look at some examples.

Example 1
Player 1 has Ah Qd
Player 2 has As Jc
Board is 7s 7h Ac Ad Td

Both players best 5 card hand is a full house AAA77

Example 2
Player 1 has Ah 8d
Player 2 has 9s 7s
Board is Qs 4d Qh 4h 4s

Both players best 5 card hand is the board showing full house 444QQ

Example 3
Player 1 Ad 5d
Player 2 Ac 2s
Board is Kh, 6c, 7h, Th, As

Both players best 5 card hand is a pair of aces, with kickers K, 7 and 6. So even though player 1 has a 5 in his hole cards it doesnt come into play against players 2 2s because both players use the boards cards to make the best 5 card poker hand.

Example 4
Player 1 Kh 9c
Player 2 Kd Kc
Board is 3c Qc Jd Th 9d

Both players best 5 card hand is a straight 9TJQK

Example 5
Player 1 4c 2c
Player 2 5c 3c
Board is Ac Tc 7c Qc Jc

Both players best 5 card hand is a straight 9TJQK


The winning hand is the best 5 card poker hand. Kickers apply to hands which dont use all 5 cards, 1 pair, 2 pair, 3 of kind and 4 of kind. (straights, flushes and fullhouses do use all 5 cards so kickers are not relevant). So when a hand appears to be equal, for example 2 players have a pair of aces, this is only using up 2 cards. The other 3 cards can be used in the hand, these are the kickers. If players both have 4 of kind then only 1 kicker is used.

Example 1
Player 1 Ah 8d
Player 2 Ad 5d
Board is Ac Tc 7c Qh 2s

Player 1 wins with AAQT8
Player 2 loses with AAQT7

Example 2
Player 1 Js 9d
Player 2 Jc Kd
Board is Tc Th Td Ts Qs

Player 2 wins with TTTTK
Player 2 loses with TTTTJ

Split Decisions with flushes

Generally these are easy to see who wins. One slightly different scenerio is when 2 players have a flush lower than the high card on the board.
Example 1
Player 1 Js 9s
Player 2 8s Ts
Board is As Ks 2h 5c 2s
Both players have an ace high flush if using the ace board card. However you then see who has the next high card, player 1 has As, Ks, Js, 9s, 2s so you can see player 1 wins because he has the Js as his third highest card beating player 2 who has As, Ks, Ts, 8s, 2s whos 3rd highest card is a T.

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