One of the great things about poker is that, on its most basic level, it’s an easy game to understand. In today’s article, we’ll explain how poker hands are ranked so you can try your hand at this amazing card game.
Rules of Poker and Ranks
There are many poker variations, but one rule applies to all of them. A hand is a series of five playing hands, with each hand having a certain rank. One hand’s rank is compared to that of the other hand to decide who takes the winning pot.
In a poker variant called Razz, the lowest-ranking hand wins the game. However, most poker websites offer more popular poker variants, such as Texas Hold ’em and Omaha Hold ‘em, where the highest-ranking hand takes the winnings.
Before we delve into poker hand rankings, let’s go through card ranks. There are thirteen of them: Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King. In each rank, there are four cards, each in one of the four suits: diamonds, spades, clubs, or hearts. Ace is the highest-ranking card, followed by King, Queen, Joker, and then numbers 10 to 2.
Aces can also be the lowest ranking cards in specific variants of the game, such as ace-to-six low or ace-to-five low rules if they are a part of a straight flush or a five-high straight. In Texas Hold ’em hands, suits don’t rank, meaning that hands with various suits have an equal ranking.
A standard deck with 52 cards holds nine hand categories. The only exceptions are ace-to-five low rules, which exclude straights and flushes. A five of a kind is a hand that can show up in the game when players use wild cards. Wild cards are those that can substitute any other card in the deck. Jokers are often used as wild cards.
Poker Combinations, From Strongest to Weakest
Let us now take a look at all hand ranks and their hierarchy. As a beginner in poker, you might find it useful to keep this list handy when playing. Although it looks like a long list of possible combinations at first glance, as you play, you’ll gradually memorize it.
- Royal Flush is an ace-high straight flush. It’s the strongest hand, with five successive cards of the same suit: A – K – Q – J – 10.
- Straight Flush is a combination of any five successive cards of the same suit, except for the royal flush. In the list of poker hands, a straight flush is second only to a royal flush or another straight flush with a higher-ranked card combination. A straight flush with 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 is called a steel wheel.
- Four of a Kind, also known as quads, are four cards of the same rank in all four suits. The fifth card, with an odd rank, is called the kicker. For example, 9 – 9 – 9 – 9 – J of spades.
- Full House is a three of a kind, plus a pair, for example, 7 – 7 – 7 – Q – Q. Full houses are among the strongest winning hands in poker. If more than one player has a full house, the one with the higher-valued three of a kind wins. A full house is also known as a boat or a full boat.
- Flush is a hand with five cards of any sequence with an identical suit, for example, 2 – 3 – 6 – 9 – K of hearts. In case more than one player has a flush, the player with the highest valued card in their flush wins.
- Straight is five cards in numerical order with at least two different suits, for example, 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8. A straight hand will always contain either a 5 or a 10. An ace can be a high-ranking card above the king or a low-ranking card if it’s below 2 in poker winning hands. Every straight is measured by its highest-ranking card.
- Three of a Kind, also known as a set, are three cards of the same rank, plus two unrelated cards, for example, 8 – 8 – 8 – A – 6.
- Two Pairs consist of two cards of the same rank, followed by two cards of another rank and a fifth card known as the kicker. A two-pair hand is valued by its higher-ranking pair, followed by its lower-ranking pair, then by the kicker in the end. It belongs in the “good poker hands” category. A two-pair hand with 5 – 5 – 3 – 3 – 10 beats 5 – 5 – 2 – 2 – J.
- Pair, as the name suggests, has a pair of cards of the same rank. The rest of the hand are three kickers. Such a hand is ranked by the value of its pair, followed by the highest-ranking kicker, then the second-highest-ranking kicker, and the lowest-ranking kicker.
- High card, also called no pair or nothing in the tournament circles, is the weakest in the poker hands order. A high card is a hand with the highest-ranking card and no matching cards. The hand with the highest-ranking card wins. If more players have the same high card, then the highest kicker determines who the winner is, followed by the next highest-ranking kicker, and so on.
There is one poker hand stronger than all hands from this list. It’s called Five of a Kind, but you need to use wild cards to have this hand in the game. That is why we didn’t include it in our poker hands list. It’s made of four cards of the same rank and different suits, plus a Joker that acts as the fifth card of the same rank as the other four. Some poker apps allow the usage of wild cards, and others don’t.
1. What are the top 20 poker hands?
Also known as starting hands in no-limit Texas Hold ‘em poker, these are:
1. pocket aces
2. pocket kings
3. pocket queens
4. pocket jacks
5. ace-king suited
6. pocket tens
7. ace-king offsuit
8. ace-queen suited
9. pocket nines
10. ace-jack suited
11. king-queen suited
12. ace-ten suited
13. ace-queen offsuit
14. pocket eights
15. king-jack suited
16. king-ten suited
17. queen-jack suited
18. ace-jack offsuit
19. king-queen offsuit
20. queen-ten suited
2. What is the rarest hand in poker?
Among all poker hands, the one ranked the highest – royal flush – is the rarest. The odds of being dealt this hand are one in 649,737.
3. Does 4 of a kind beat a straight flush?
Four of a kind can’t beat a straight flush, but it can beat a straight and a flush.