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)
|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|
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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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