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Poker Hands: What Beats What


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Poker Hands Basics

Most standard poker games like Texas Holdem make use of five card hands that rank in terms of strength. Each hand’s strength is, in turn, determined by how rare they are. Simply put, the harder a poker hand is to come by, the higher it ranks.

There are 10 possible hands in most standard games of poker. They are as follows (arranged from strongest to weakest):

Please note the following card references:

(h) Hearts (d) Diamonds (c) Clubs (s) Spades

#1 Royal Flush

Royal Flush Poker Hand

In terms of strength and rarity, no other hand could beat a royal flush. It’s made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit starting with an ace.
Ex: Ad Kd Qd Jd 10d
Probability: 0.000154%

#2 Straight Flush

Straight Flush Poker Hand

A straight flush is very similar to a royal flush. In fact, a royal flush is a kind of straight flush. The only thing that sets the two apart is that unlike a royal flush, a straight flush uses a king or anything lower as its highest card.
Ex: Jc 10c 9c 8c 7c
Probability: 0.00139%

#3 Four of a Kind

Four of a Kind Poker Hand

As you may have probably guessed based on the name, this hand is made up of four cards of the same value. But since standard poker games use five-card hands, it includes a random fifth card to complete the set, which can then be used as a kicker card in case of a tie.
Ex: 3d 3h 3s 3c Js
Probability: 0.0240%

#4 Full House

Full House Poker Hand

There are two parts to this hand: a trip and a pair. A trip is just three cards of the same value, while a pair is two cards of the same value.

When showdown time comes, the trips get compared first, and then, if they’re tied, we move on to the pairs.
Ex: 5d 5h 5s 2s 2c
Probability: 0.1441%

#5 Flush

Flush Poker Hand

Simply put, a flush is just a set of suited cards.

Interestingly, while a standard deck of 52 cards contains a total of 5,108 different flush combinations, the hand can still be considered pretty rare considering the odds of any player getting one are no more than 508:1.
Ex: Ah Jh 9h 5h 3h
Probability: 0.1965%

#6 Straight

Straight Poker Hand

This is essentially the straight part of a straight flush. And since we know that “flush” means suited, then “straight” could only mean consecutive – and that is exactly what this hand is: five non-suited consecutive cards.

Of course, the straight with the highest high card wins whenever two or more active players end up with the hand.
Ex: 9d 8c 7s 6c 5h
Probability: 0.3925%

#7 Three of a Kind

3 of a Kind Poker Hand

This hand is pretty much the same as a four of a kind but with only three cards of the same value, as the name suggests, instead of four.

Needless to say, it uses two random cards to complete the set instead of just one.
Ex: 10h 10s 10c 9d 4s
Probability: 2.1128%

#8 Two Pair

Two Pair Poker Hand

We’ve talked about pairs earlier as part of a full house. Well, this hand just has two of them plus a random fifth card to complete the set.
Ex: Qd Qh 4d 4c 6s.
Probability: 4.7539%

#9 One Pair

One Pair Poker Hand

As the name implies, this hand only has one pair, and, consequently, three random cards to complete the set.
Ex: Ad Ah Ks 6c 4s
Probability: 42.2569%

#10 High Card

High Card Poker Hand

Finally, we have the hand that you end up with by default whenever you are unable to build any of the other hands we’ve seen so far before showdown time comes.

Now, while it is the weakest hand you could possibly get, you could still win with it with a little bit of strategy. More on this in the next section.
Ex: Jd 7c 5s 3h 2h
Probability: 50.1177%

Remember this is Five-Card Poker

Before we move on, let us first make it clear that these rankings only apply to five-card hands. Games that use three-card hands – like Three Card Poker, for example – follow slightly different rankings because the odds of getting each hand in these games are slightly different.

More than a game of hands

Of course, there’s so much more to poker than hand rankings. Aside from luck, your chances of winning also ultimately depends on how well you are able to read the table and your opponents and then come up with the appropriate strategies at all stages of the game. Bluffing (i.e, tricking your opponents into acting a certain way) is also a great skill to master because it essentially gives you the power to use an otherwise useless hand to win the pot. You can learn more about it here.

Now, how about some real money poker action online? Sign up for a account today to get started! And check back regularly for more free poker guides, tips and tricks like this one!


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