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Poker Hands - What Beats What

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The game of poker is very popular all over the world. You’ll want to learn how to play poker in the future, but for right now, here are the standard hand rankings for poker games played with a standard English deck of 52 cards (no jokers or wild cards). These five-card hands are listed from the best to the worst.

Royal Flush

A royal flush is the highest straight of cards, all in one suit: 10-J-Q-K-A. This hand is very tough to make. Being dealt this hand in five-card stud poker will happen about once in every 649,000 hands. In five card draw (or video poker), it will happen about once in every 40,000 hands.

Straight Flush

A straight flush consists of a straight, all in one suit. The lowest straight flush is A-2-3-4-5. Players usually consider the highest straight flush to be 9-10-J-Q-K, although technically, a royal flush is still a straight flush also – and is the highest.

Four of a Kind

Four of a kind is a hand that contains four of the same card, such as four sevens or four Jacks. Because twos (deuces) are rated the lowest and aces the highest in poker, four aces is the highest four of a kind. When two or more players have four of a kind, the highest four of a kind wins. So, four deuces can’t beat any other four of a kind, and four aces can’t be beaten by any other four of a kind.

Full House

A full house is a pair and three of a kind. When two or more players hold full houses it is the three of a kind that will determine the winner. So, aces-full (three aces with any pair) beats any other full house, and deuces-full can not beat any other full house.

In a community card game such as Texas Hold’em, two players may hold a hand such as three deuces, in this case, the higher pair will determine the winning hand.

Flush

A flush is any five cards of the same suit. An ace-high flush is higher (and beats) a king-high flush, regardless of the other cards in each hand. When two or more players hold a flush, the hands are compared card-to-card until one hand wins (the highest next card wins, such as when A-7-6-3-2 beats A-7-5-4-3). Two flush hands that are all the same (such as K-J-9-4-3 in hearts against K-J-9-4-3 in clubs) results in a tie. No suit trumps another suit in poker.

Straight

A straight is five cards that all connect – five cards in a row, such as 7-6-5-4-3. When two or more players hold a straight, the hand with the highest starting card wins, thus a Jack-high straight (J-10-9-8-7) beats a five-high straight (5-4-3-2-A) even though the five-high contains an ace.

Three of a Kind

Three of a kind is any hand that holds three of the same cards (except one that has three of a kind and a pair, which is a full-house), such as 2-3-7-7-7 (a set of sevens). When two or more players hold three of a kind, the highest set (aces are highest, deuces lowest) wins.

In a community card game such as Texas Hold’em, two players may hold the same three of a kind. In this case, the highest fourth card in the hand will decide the winner. If both of these cards are the same (such as A-A-A-9-5 against A-A-A-9-4), the higher fifth card will determine the winner.

Two Pair

Two pair is a hand that contains a single card and two pairs of cards, such as 2-8-8-Q-Q. When two or more players hold two-pair hands, the hand with the highest pair wins, such as 2-8-8-Q-Q beating 3-7-7-9-9. When one of the pairs is the same, such as K-K-7-7-4 against K-K-5-5-A, the deciding factor is the next pair. In this case, the sevens beat the fives.

When both the pairs match, such as 6-6-4-4-3 against 6-6-4-4-2, the single card will determine the winner. In this case the 6-6-4-4-3 hand wins because the three is higher than the deuce.

One Pair

One pair is a hand with three mixed cards and a single pair. When two or more players hold one-pair hands, the highest pair wins. When two players hold the same pair, such as A-A-7-4-3 and A-A-7-4-2, the winning hand is the one with the next highest card. In this instance, the sevens also match as do the fours, but the player with the three beats the player with the deuce.

High Card

A high card hand is one with nothing that matches, no straight, and no flush. When two or more players hold high-card hands, the highest card wins. When the highest card (or subsequent cards) match, the final highest card wins, such as when A-K-7-6-5 beats A-K-6-4-2.

These hands do not reflect wild-card games. In games with wild cards, a five of a kind beats a royal flush. If you want to give poker a try, you should consider playing some free online poker games first.

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