Poker Hand Ranking

One of the first things you should know when you first start playing poker is the value of the hand that you have, and how it compares to the others. The higher ranked the hand, the more likely that you will win the pot, and the following is a guide to the order of rank for the games of Texas Hold’em Poker, Omaha Poker, 7 Card Stud Poker, 5 Card Draw Poker and Caribbean Stud Poker.

Royal Flush. The top hand you can ever have is the Royal Flush. This is comprised of the top five cards (Ace – King – Queen – Jack – Ten) of the same suit, and having this hand guarantees you cannot be beaten. Do not be too upset if you do not get dealt one in your first few hands, the odds of seeing this combination (in Texas Hold´em at least) are over 4.500.000/1!

Straight Flush. The next most valuable hand to have is the straight flush. This hand is made up of any five consecutive cards of the same suit, but obviously the higher the better. If two players both had a straight flush, the players with the highest included card in their hand would win. For example, player one holds 6789T of spades, whereas player two has 89TJQ of spades – player two would be the winner.

Four of a Kind. The third ranked hand is Four of a Kind or “Quads” and it simply means that you have four cards of the same numeric value in your hand (ie four sixes). Because of the way in which some of these poker games are played with community cards, it could be possible for two or more players to have Four of a Kind, in which case the pot is decided by who has the highest fifth card (or “Kicker”). In the event that they are both the same, the pot is divided.

Full House. The next highest hand is the Full House. A Full House incorporates three cards of one number/value with two more of another number/value – for example KKK88. This would be known as “Kings over Eights”, and in the event of any tie on the top trio, the pot is determined (or split) according to what each player holds in their bottom pair.

The Flush. A Flush consists of five cards of the same suit which do not form a sequence. Superiority is determined by the highest card of the set, so Ad Qd 8d 5d 4d beats Kd 8d 6d 5d 4d (“d” stands for Diamonds) or where the highest card is shared, the value of the second highest card and so on until a winner is found.

 The Straight. The Straight is where five cards do fall in sequence, but the sequence is made up of two or more suits – for example Jh Td 9c 8c 7s (“h” stands for hearts, “d” diamonds, “c” clubs and “s” spades). Although Ace can be high or low in a Straight (ie AKQJT and A2345), it does not “wrap around”, so you could not have a Straight consisting of QKA23. 

Three of a Kind. Having Three of a Kind can also be known as having “trips” or a “set” and the higher value set beats a lower value set. If two or more players have three cards of the same value (it is possible in Hold´em and Omaha), the winner is determined by their next highest card. There is no suit superiority, for example when one of the sets is made up with a spade and the other a diamond.

Two Pairs. Two Pairs is a self explanatory term. Again, as with the Full House, if the top elements are equal (ie QQ), then the lower pair will decide who is the winner (ie QQ88 beats QQ22), and if both pairs are equal then the winner is determined by the kicker – QQ88T beats QQ882.

One Pair. If your hand contains two cards of the same value, it is known as having a Pair. If no player holds a pair or better once all the cards have been dealt, the pot is awarded to the player with the highest ranking card in their hand – ace being high.