Winning Hands in Poker | Texas Holdem Hand Rankings

So what are the winning hands in poker?

In most poker varieties, the players use some of the cards they hold and combine them with some of the community cards to form the best possible five-card hand. In Texas Hold’em, for example, each player holds two cards, and there are five community cards when all cards are dealt. Each player can use one, two, or even none of his hole cards in combination with the community cards to form the best possible hand. If two or more players hold hands of equal values, they split the pot and share whatever amount is in it.

For example, let’s say that there are three players holding

  • Player A: Q♣Q♠
  • Player B: A♠10♦
  • Player C: 7♦6♦

And the board is : A♣Q♦J♦9♣8♠

  • For player A, his best possible hand (using both of his hole cards) is three of a kind Q♣Q♠Q♦A♣J♦
  • For player B, his best possible hand (using only one of his hole cards) is a straight Q♦J♦10♦9♣8♠
  • For player C, his best possible hand (using none one of his hole cards) is ace high A♣Q♦J♦9♣8♠

The value of the hands somehow reflects how difficult or rare it is to form them. In the example above, the straight is the highest ranked hand (also the rarest), so player B wins. Let’s take a look at all the hand rankings.

Hand Rankings (ordered by increasing value)

Hand Example Explanation
10. High card Unrelated and unpaired cards
9. One pair Two cards of the same rank
8. Two pair Two different pairs
7. Three of a kind (or set) Three cards of the same rank
6. Straight Five consecutive cards
5. Flush All cards of the same suit
4. Full house Three of a kind with a pair
3. Four of a kind (or quads)  Four cards of the same rank
2. Straight flush Five consecutive cards, all of the same suit
1. Royal flush Ace-High Straight Flush

High card

This holding is the lowest possible. It means that you have not paired your cards, and your cards are unrelated, so no straight or flush either. When two or more players have “high cards,” the one holding the highest cards wins, ace being the highest and deuce the lowest. So, if someone holds has an ace (called ace-high), he wins an opponent having king-high. If the highest card of both players is the same, then the second-highest card counts, and so on.

One Pair

Having one pair is the second in value and wins only x-high hands. Between players holding one pair, the one with the highest pair wins. If two players have the same pair, the one holding the highest side card, also called a kicker, wins.

Two Pair

Two pair is better than one pair. Between players holding two pair, the one holding the highest pair wins. If two players hold the same high pair, then the second pair counts and then the kicker (the fifth card).

Three of a Kind

Holding three of a kind (three cards of the same rank) is wins over two-pair. Once again, the highest three of a kind wins, and if there is a tie, the kickers count (the remaining two cards of the five-card holding).

Straight

On top of three of a kind comes the straight. It consists of five consecutive cards. Between players holding a straight, the one with the highest cards wins.

Flush

A flush wins a straight. To make a flush, all of the five cards have to be of the same suit. If more than one players have a flush, the one with the highest cards wins. The type of suit (♥♦♠♣) does not play a role in the ranking.

Full House

A full house beats a flush. It consists of three of a kind and a pair. Between players having full houses, the one that has the highest three of a kind wins. In a tie, the pair becomes decisive.

Four of a Kind

Four of a kind wins a full house. Between players having four of a kind, the one that has the highest four of a kind wins. In a tie, the player with the highest kicker wins the hand.

Straight Flush

A straight flush is both a straight (five consecutive cards) and a flush (cards of the same suit). Between players holding straight flushes, the one with the highest cards wins. The type of suit (♥♦♠♣) does not matter for the ranking.

Royal Flush

A royal flush is the best possible hand! It is a straight flush with the highest card being an ace. If you hold a royal flush you have nothing to fear 🙂

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16 thoughts on “Winning Hands in Poker | Texas Holdem Hand Rankings

  1. I used to play poker in my youth, I was never an expert but I often won even against more experienced people. Unfortunately, as it’s been many years, I forgot how to play. But after coming across your website and reading some of your articles, I realized the rules are still there, I haven’t forgotten them. 

    I remember I once had a royal flush and I was ecstatic! It was the only time I got that hand, so I’m not very lucky lol. But I did get a straight flush and a full house several times, and that was also cool. Thanks for helping me remember the secrets of this great game!

    1. Hey, thanks for your comment and for sharing your thoughts and experience! Yes, the feeling of making a royal flush is unbeatable! Best regards

  2. Oh, this is very good. I have become a little rusty with playing poker but I wanted to learn more about it during this time of lockdown that I am not working or doing anything. Your explanation on winning hands in poker brings back some very good memories that j have of the game. I need to go through your other articles to learn more.

  3. Hello there, when playing poker, sometimes I confuse which hand outranks which. It is very frustrating when you are sitting on the table to have doubts. The presentation in this post is very clear, in an easy to read layout that is also suitable for printing. So that will be very helpful for me.

  4. Poker is an interesting game, its a pity am really good at it, though am learning, thanks to your posting am becoming master at it, i remembered the last time i played poker i lost 4 times, but i will surely apply all the tips and guidelines from this site when next am playing… it is really nice knowing this, thanks alot

  5. Hi

    I have played poker for  while for fun and am well aware of Texas Hold’em, but I got to admit it is not one of my favourite. I prefer it when  no cards are visible and you have to play what is in your hand. I personally think it is more fun but each player ti it’s own. I also think it is more fun when 4 or more players take part,  as this creates a great at atmosphere.  I really app you ranking of each hand as you can easily forget what beats what. The lowest hand possible is 7 high but I have never had it. How much of poker is luck and how much is skill?

    Thanks

    Antonio 

    1. Hello Antonio! Poker is both skill and luck, but in the long run luck evens out so skill will determine if you are a winning player! You can read some poker strategy articles. 

      Concerning different poker variations, I agree with you that there are some very exciting forms of poker. Short deck poker is gaining popularity – you play with fewer cards, excluding the 2,3,4,5 so you make more easily full houses or quads! It actually resembles the poker we play in Greece called Poka. I plan to write an article soon so you can keep an eye if you are interested.

       Best regards

  6. Hi, Elef.
    Thanks for sharing the information on winning hands in Poker. Being in total locked down due to COVID-19 I am hooked to the internet and often see popping ads of Poker Games. Your article gave a very clear picture of insight of game and the precautions to be taken. After the complete article, I feel that I am a little spoilt and will dive deep into the game. Looking forward to more information Buddy.
    Warm Regards,
    Gaurav Gaur

    1. Hello Gaur, thank you for your reply and comments. Take care in this difficult time and, if it interests you, profit from the confinement to read more about poker strategy! Best regards 

  7. Hi, this is a great post. It is very detailed and well explained with clear pictures to illustrate the different hand rankings. Also, for everyone desiring to learn how the game is played and also winning strategies it is a unique opportunity. Your website has very rich content and very insightful advice. Great job. Cheers

  8. Hello,

    My comment is mainly a note of thanks. I am so appreciative of the work done by you in order to get us to know about pocker. I am not a fan of this that much but after reading the article, I have found it amazing and understandable.

    I have found some of the paragraphs a bit complicated to me but, let me bookmark the page, I will be revising it because I have really fallen in love with this!

    Thanks very much!

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