Poker Hand Rankings
In the majority of the various forms of poker games available to play, a player's hand is composed of five cards. This is certainly true in the most popular poker games of Texas Holdem, Seven Card Stud Poker and video poker to name but a few. The various poker hand rankings are listed below in order with the first - Royal Flush - being the best.
A royal flush is the best hand in the most popular poker games such as Texas Holdem and Seven Card Stud, and comprises an ace-high flush (cards of the same suit; see Flush), i.e. Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten.
Acquiring a royal flush is extremely rare, and will almost certainly be a winning hand if you are luck enough to have one.
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A straight flush is five cards of the same suit in sequence, such as Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven of hearts. It can also be Nine, Ten, Jack, Queen and King, which can only be bettered by a royal flush (which is Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit).
A straight flush is also a rare hand to have in poker, and will often be the winner.
Four of a Kind
Four of a kind describes four cards of the same value, i.e. four Twos or four Jacks. The higher the value, the better the hand, so four Jacks would beat four Twos. It is also sometimes referred to as quads.
A full house comprises three cards of one value and two of another (basically three of a kind and a pair). In the case of two or more players being lucky enough to have a full house, the better hand is the one in which the value of the three cards is the highest, irrespective of the pair. For example, a player who had three Queens and a pair of Twos would win the pot against a player who had three Sevens and a pair of Kings.
When talking about a full house, it is referred to as the three cards 'full of' the pair. So a player who had three Sevens and two Kings would have a hand that was "Sevens full of Kings".
A flush is five cards which are of the same suit but are not in sequence (if they were it would be a straight flush, which is a much stronger poker hand). If two players have a flush, the winner is determined by the one with the highest card of the flush. For example, a player who had the King, Ten, Eight, Three and Two of the same suit would beat a player with a Ten, Nine, Five, Four and Two.
Sometimes two players may have a flush with the same value high card. In this instance, the player with the higher value second card in the flush would take the pot. If the second happened to be the same, it would then move to the third and so on. If the players have the same flush, e.g. the exact same suited flush in Texas Hold 'Em or a flush of a different suit where all five cards were the same in value as the other palyer's, the pot would be split (shared).
A straight is comprised of five cards which are in sequence but are not of the same suit (if they were it would be a straight flush, which is a much stronger poker hand). In the event of two or more players having a straight, the one with the highest card wins. For example, a player with a straight comprised of Jack, Ten, Nine, Eight and Seven would beat a player holding a straight of Nine, Eight, Seven, Six and Five.
Whilst in a flush if both players have the same high card the second and then if necessary third card and so on are used to determine the winner, in a straight this is not possible because... think about it... if both players have the same high card they will obviously have the same straight, even if it is of differing suits. In this case, the pot is split (shared) between them.
Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same value (e.g. three Sevens). Three of a kind is also referred to as trips or a set e.g trips seven or a set of sevens. If two or more players have three of a kind, the person with the highest value three of a kind wins, for example three of a kind Nines beats three of a kind Sevens. If players have the same three of a kind, the one holding the highest unpaired card will win, e.g. a player holding three of a kind Sevens who also had a King would beat a player who showed three of a kind Sevens but whose next highest card was a Ten. In the event that two players have the same three of a kind and the same high card, their second highest card is then compared.
Two pair is two cards of one value and two of another, e.g. two Kings and two Threes. If two or more players have two pair, the value of the highest pair wins, for example a player with two Kings and two Threes would win against a player with two sevens and two Aces. If more than one player holds the same highest pair, the one with the highest second pair wins. If both players hold the same two pairs, then the one with the highest fifth card that makes up their hand will win. If they both have the same two pairs and the same value fifth card, they split (share) the pot.
Two cards of the same rank, e.g. two Sixes. If two players hold the same pair, i.e. both are showing a pair of Sixes, then the one with the highest third card wins. In the event of this being the same, then the one with the highest fourth card wins. If this is the same, then the one with the highest fifth card wins. If, after all this, both players have an identical hand, then they split (share) the pot.
When none of the other hands can be made, a player's highest card is the best they can show. It is extremely unlikely that this will win the pot and if you have reached the showdown by only holding a high card you probably should have folded a while back! Either that or your bluff that you were trying did not work.
Texas Holdem Articles
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