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Poker Hand Ranking

Aug 17, 2007
There are many different variants of poker, but nearly all of them use the same ranking system to decide which hand wins. Therefore whichever type of game you prefer, it's vitally important that you memorise the rankings of all the possible poker hands listed in this article, in order to make calculated betting decisions.

1. Royal Flush

The best hand you can possibly have. It's very rare and you generally only ever see them in TV programs or Hollywood movies. It consists of 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit.

2. Straight Flush

This is the next strongest hand and similarly consists of five cards in numerical order, all of the same suit. The only difference is that the cards are of lower value than a royal flush, eg 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack.

3. Four Of A Kind

As you can imagine, this is where you have four cards of the same number, with the higher set of four winning if two or more players both have four of a kind. For example four 6's would beat four 5's.

4. Full House

This is where you have five cards in your hand and three are of one number and two are of another number. For example Jack, Jack, Jack, 8, 8 or 7, 7, 7, 3, 3. The higher card of the set of three will prevail in the case of two or more players both having a full house.

5. Flush

This is where you hold five cards all of the same suit regardless of their number or ranking. So for example, King, Jack, 6, 4, 3, all of the same suit. The value of the highest card determines who wins in the case of two or more players also making a flush.

6. Straight

This is where you have five cards in numerical order (not of the same suit). As always, the value of the higher card will determine who wins in the case a tie. For example, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen would beat 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

7. Three Of A Kind

This is simply where you have three cards of the same number (and two random cards), with the higher card prevailing in the case of a tie.

8. Two Pair

This is where you have two sets of cards of the same numerical value. For example, 8, 8, 10, 10, King. The highest ranked pair wins in the case of two or more players having two pair.

9. One Pair

A pair is obviously where you simply have a pair of the same number (and three random cards) with the higher pair winning in the case of a tie. For example, Ace, Ace, 8, 5, 3, would beat King, King, 8, 5, 3.

10. High Card

If you don't make any kind of hand listed above, then all you're left relying on is your high card. This only generally comes into play in heads up play, and is simply determined by who has the highest card if neither has made a hand.

If you're serious about becoming a profitable poker player, then the very first thing I suggest you do is to learn these rankings off by heart. You have to know how strong your hand is, and determine how strong your opponents hands could be, and how likely they are to hold a better hand than you.

This is particularly true in online poker where you have a time limit and therefore less time to think than in offline games. In my experience, the hardest thing to remember is whether a full house beats a flush or vice versa, so make sure you've memorised the complete rankings before you go anywhere near a poker table.
About the Author
James Woolley is a regular poker player and the author of a blog containing the very latest tips and advice to help you become a better poker player, plus all the latest poker news:

http://internet-poker-guide.co.uk
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