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Poker Hand Rankings

Every poker game needs rules of hand rankings to determine a winner. Most games, including Texas Hold'em, use the standard high-card formula of straight flush all the way down to high card.

Every poker game needs rules of hand rankings to determine a winner. Most games, including Texas Hold’em, use the standard high-card formula of straight flush all the way down to high card.

Outlined below are the classic poker hand rankings for high-card games like Texas Hold’em, Stud, Omaha, and 5-card draw. There are also high-low variations of Omaha and Stud that use qualifying low hand rankings to determine who will split the pot, but I don’t particularly like to play any game that makes me split with the best hand.

These rankings go from high to low. Card rankings go from the high card Ace through the low card 2. For straights, an Ace can be counted as above the King or below the 2.

Also, be aware that if more than one player has the same hand ranking the higher individual cards win the hand. For example, 4 Aces beat 4 Kings, and an Ace-high flush beats a King-high flush.

This all may sound complicated, but take a look at the following chart and you’ll get the hang of it. A good way to get familiar with “what beats what” is to download online poker software and play for play money.

Note: For Texas Hold’em your two hole cards will match up with 3 out of the 5 community cards (available to everyone) to make the best 5 card hand, which is what you see below. For more details see my detailed Texas Hold’em rules page.

Poker Hand NameDescriptionExample
Straight FlushAny 5-connected cards of the same suit. As with any poker hand ranking, the higher the top card is in your hand the more it is worth. A Royal Flush is the highest possible straight flush (10-J-Q-K-A)poker-hand-rankings-straight-flush
Four of a Kind4 cards of the same value.poker-hand-rankings-four-of-a-kind
Full House3 of a kind plus another pairpoker-hand-rankings-full-house
Flush5 cards of the same suit. Flushes are ranked by their highest suited card (an Ace-high flush is the best flush, and it beats a King-high flush or any other flushes)poker-hand-rankings-flush
Straight5 connecting cards in a sequence. For example, the highest straight is 10-J-Q-K-A, and the lowest straight is A-2-3-4-5. Note that an Ace can play high or low for straights.poker-hand-rankings-straight
Three of a Kind3 cards of the same valuepoker-hand-rankings-three-of-a-kind
Two Pair2 pairs of cards with the same valuepoker-hand-rankings-two-pair
One Pair2 cards of the same valuepoker-hand-rankings-one-pair
High CardIf no player holds at least one pair the high card wins at the showdown. Holding an Ace would give you the best high-card hand.poker-hand-rankings-high-card

One of the few Royal Flushes I have ever made playing poker, circa 2007 on the fantastic old Full Tilt Poker software. Lucky me – he has a full house as well.

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