Poker Hand Rankings

Knowing your Poker Hands and Poker Hand Rankings is one of the most important elements of learning to play poker. While there is a lot to learn, whether you play live or online poker, understanding where your poker hand ranks is vital.

Without understanding the poker hand rankings, you won’t know whether your starting hand is strong or weak. Not knowing the strength of your starting hands can lead to errors when playing your poker hand. These errors can, and likely will, cause you to lose your money. Being able to quickly access a mental poker cheat sheet to know how your poker hand ranks will be of immense benefit.

There are ten different poker hands, starting with the highest-ranking Royal Flush to the lowly high card. Here is our simple poker hand rankings guide to help you learn and continue to improve your game. Don’t forget to check out our poker probability cheat sheet to help you further understand the strength of your starting poker hands.

List of Poker Hands – Ranking (Highest to Lowest)

1. Royal Flush

Also known as an Ace high straight flush, the Royal Flush consists of the A, K, Q, J and 10, all of the same suit.

2. Straight Flush

Five sequential cards all of the same suit.

3. Four of a Kind

All four cards of the same rank plus 1 extra card.

4. Full House

Three-of-a-kind plus a pair.

5. Flush

Any five cards of the same suit. Rank does not matter.

6. Straight

Any five sequential cards. The suits do not matter.

7. Three of a Kind

Three cards of the same rank plus any 2 non-paired cards.

8. Two Pair

Two different pairs plus one other card.

9. One Pair

Two cards of the same rank plus any 3 non-paired cards.

10. High Card

When you’ve not made any of the hands above, the highest card plays. This is hand is at the bottom of the poker hand rankings.

Best Starting Hands in Poker

Knowing the strength of your starting hand in any game of poker is crucial to a strong poker strategy. Knowing the poker hand rankings will help you determine the strength of the cards you are dealt, whether you can hit that elusive royal flush or just another high card hand. To find out more about the basics of playing poker, visit our poker school.

 

Texas Hold'em

AA, KK

These two starting hands are the best in Texas Hold’em, but it’s not often you’ll get dealt aces or kings. While it is unlikely you will hit a straight or flush with these starting hands, know you opponents have to catch up puts you in the lead. It is important to note that aces do not play well against multiple opponents and kings tend to do even worse.

QQ, JJ, AK

When it comes to poker hand rankings, queens and jacks are amongst the best starting poker hands in Texas Hold’em. AK (suited or unsuited) dominates most other hands and offers great potential.

TT, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ

This group of starting hands is very strong. The big Aces will find you in the lead against most other hands while the pair of Tens only has to be wary of bigger pairs. With the KQ, the weakest hand in this 3rd tier, will only find itself behind against an opponent with an Ace. It is generally recommended to raise preflop with any of these poker hands as the potential to reach a high tier in the poker hand rankings is strong, but be careful as their early strength depends on the other players and your position in the game.

Omaha

AAKK, AAJ10

Any hand featuring a pair of aces with two cards from ten to king is the best hand in Omaha, or PLO (Pot-Limit Omaha) poker. You should look to raise and reraise with these hands and go all-in before the flop if possible.

KKQJ, JJQK

High pairs (TT-KK) with sequential cards do particularly well in heads-up and gives amazing opportunity to rise up the poker hand rankings. You should expect that you’ll find at least one player with aces in Omaha, so you be careful before the flop with one of these hands.

8876, 7789

Middle pairs with sequential cards are particularly strong as they pull value from coordinated draws, or made hands on the flop. Try to limp in with these hands or call a raise if there are other potential callers.

AKQJ, KQJ10

These hands are strong but are easily dominated before the flop – especially by high pairs. It’s important to play these cards carefully. Consider calling a raise in a late position.

It is important to remember that while for most poker games, the poker hand rankings don’t change, ensuring you understand the basics or how the games are played is extremely important. Regardless if you are playing Texas Hold’em or any other poker games, make sure you have that mental cheat sheet for each game you play.

Explanation of Poker Hands

Royal Flush

The Royal Flush, also known as an Ace high straight flush, is the best hand in poker. Utilizing the A-K-Q-J-T all from the same suit, a royal flush beats everything. The only time this hand will not win is if another player has a Royal Flush in a different suit.

Straight Flush

A Straight Flush beats Four of a Kind and everything below. A Straight Flush beats everything a Royal Flush would as long as the high card is of greater value then any other Straight Flush in the same hand. An ace can rank either high or low under high rules, but cannot rank both high and low simultaneously and if you have an Ace high straight flush, its now a Royal straight flush. Under deuce-to-seven rules, an ace always ranks high. Under ace-to-six low rules, an ace always ranks low. Every Straight Flush is ranked by its highest-ranking card.

Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind, also known as Quads, contains four cards of one rank and one other card (named the kicker). It ranks below a Straight Flush and above a Full House. Each Four of a Kind is ranked by the rank of its quadruplet and then by the rank of its kicker. If multiple players have a Four of a Kind the kicker will be used to determine the winner. If the kickers are of equal rank, the poker hands are tied.

Full House

A Full House – also known as a Full Boat, a Boat, Full Hand or Tight – contains three cards of one rank and two cards of a second rank. A Full House ranks below Four of a Kind and above a Flush. Each Full House is ranked first by the rank of its triplet and then by the rank of its pair.

A Full House consisting of 8-8-8-7-7 (called Eights full of Sevens, or Eights over Sevens) would rank higher than an 8-8-8-6-6 or 4-4-4-J-J Full House, but lower than Q-Q-Q-6-6 or 8-8-8-9-9 Full House. If 2 Full House’s have both the triplet and the pair the same, the poker hand is tied.

Flush

A Flush contains five cards of all of the same suit, but not of sequential rank. It ranks below a Full House and above a Straight. Each Flush is ranked first by its highest-ranking card, then by its second highest-ranking card, and so on. Flush hands that differ by suit alone are of equal rank. A flush consisting of K-Q-8-7-3 beats a flush K-Q-8-6-5 but loses to the flush A-6-5-4-2.

If 2 or more players both have a flush, the winner of the hand will be determined by the rank of the cards starting with the highest card.

Straight

A Straight hand contains five cards of sequential rank, but not all of the same suit. It ranks below a Flush and above Three of a Kind. Each Straight is ranked by its highest-ranking card, while straight hands that differ by suit alone are of equal rank. An ace-high Straight is known as a Broadway Straight, while a five-high Straight is called a Wheel or Baby Straight.

Three of a Kind

Also known as Trips or a Set, Three of a Kind contains three cards of one rank and two other non-paired cards (called kickers). It ranks below a Straight and above a Two Pair. Each Three of a Kind is ranked by its triplet, then by its highest ranked kicker and finally its lowest ranked kicker.

Two Pair

Two Pair is a hand that contains two cards of one rank, two cards of a second rank, and one card of a third rank (the kicker). It sits below Three of a Kind and above One Pair. Each Two Pair is ranked first by its highest-ranking pair, then its lowest-ranking pair and finally the kicker. Two Pair hands that differ by suit alone rank equally.

One Pair

One Pair contains two cards of one rank and three cards of three other ranks (the kickers). It ranks below Two Pair and above High Card. Each One Pair is ranked first by its pair, then by its kickers in rank order. If 2 players have the same pair and kickers the poker hands are equal.

High Card

High Card is the name for any hand that does not fit into any other category. The weakest hand you can have in poker, the High Card hand is ranked by its cards in high to low rank order. Certain games have specific rules for High Card hands. Under deuce-to-seven low rules, a seven-five-high hand is the best possible. Under ace-to-five low rules, Straights and Flushes are not possible, making them High Card hands instead.

FAQs

What is the highest card suit in poker?

Most forms of poker do not consider suit as a factor in determining the poker hands. For the games that do put a value on suits they are usually ordered Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs. If you are unsure if the suit makes a difference in your game, just ask the dealer before you start playing.

What is the best poker hand?

Playing by standard rules with a standard deck of cards, the Royal Flush is the best hand in poker, and it consists of an ace, king, queen and jack, joined by a ten – all of which are in the same suit. Of course it never hurts to ask for clarification before you start playing.

What are poker hands?

In most versions of poker a Poker Hand is a set of five playing cards, according to the rules of the game. Each poker hand has a rank that is compared against the other hands to decide who wins.

What is a flush in poker?

A flush is a hand that contains five cards of all the same suit. These cards will not be of sequential rank, if they were you would have a Straight Flush. The Flush ranks below a full house and above a straight.

What is the highest card in poker?

The cards are ranked from high to low: ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and ace. Ace, which is usually considered high, can be high or low, but almost never both in the same hand.

What’s the worst starting hand in Texas Hold’em?

The worst starting hand depends on the number of people at the table. In general, a 2-7 off suit is considered to be the worst starting poker hand. With 4 cards to a flush or straight and a low pair as the upside, this is just a bad hand.

What makes a strong poker strategy?

One of the most important factors of a strong poker strategy is understanding your starting hand. Without that basic understanding you won’t know whether to play aggressively or play it safe. You should also play for the long term where possible – meaning, you should consider how your starting hand could evolve as the hand progresses and act accordingly.

What is the objective when playing poker?

The main goal of poker is to win money. There are no prizes for the player who wins the most wagers or those who are the most ambitious when playing. Knowing this should only further impress the importance of understanding poker hand rankings and when to fold or play.

How are starting hands dealt in online poker?

Poker hands are generated using a computer algorithm, which ensures that the cards dealt are random. In Texas Hold’em poker, each player is dealt two cards face down before the flop; in Omaha poker, each player is dealt four cards face down before the flop.

What does ‘dealer’s choice’ mean?

‘Dealer’s choice’ refers to a game in which the dealer designates the variant to be played and sets the stakes. This often depends on the number of players and will outline any special variants or unusual rules outside of the usual components of a poker game.