Poker Hand Rankings
Poker hand rankings are one of the most important poker rules that every poker player should learn. Whether you are playing poker in any land-based casino or playing it at any online poker site, you need to learn everything about poker hands, ranking from best to worst.
In this article, we will include everything you need to know about poker hand rankings. Whether you are new to poker, or a professional poker player that wants to have a refresher, we provide you with the most comprehensive poker hand ranking guide.
The Hierarchy of Poker Hands — Poker Hand Rankings from the Best to the Worst
Poker hands are ranked based on the likelihood that a hand will be made. The higher a hand ranks, the rarer the poker hands probability is — the higher, the better. The following is the list of poker hands from best to worst:
1. Royal Flush
The royal flush is the best possible poker hand in most poker variants and it is the highest-ranking poker hand. It consists of an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten of the same suit. As royal flush ranked the highest in the poker hierarchy, nothing can beat it.
2. Straight Flush
A straight flush consists of five cards of the same suit which are in a sequence. It is the second-highest poker hand in the ranking system. It is also a very rare hand and it can only be defeated by a royal flush.
3. Four of a Kind
Four of a kind is any four numerically matching cards along with another card known as a side card. It ranks third in the poker hands ranking and can only be defeated by the royal flush and straight flush.
4. Full House
A full house consists of three of a kind with another pair. It is the fourth-ranking hand and can only be defeated by the royal flush, straight flush, and four-of-a-kind.
A flush is a hand that has all cards of the same suit, in any other. It is ranked fifth in the hierarchy of poker and can be defeated by the royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, and full house.
A straight has 5 cards in sequential order that are not of the same suit. It is ranked sixth in the poker hand rankings and can be defeated by the royal flush, straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house, and a flush.
7. Three of a Kind
Three of a kind is the seventh-ranking hand in poker. It consists of three cards of the same rank and two side cards with different values. Three of a kind is ranked seventh and can only defeat two pair, one pair, and a high card hand.
8. Two Pair
Two cards of equal value with two more cards of equal value, and one additional card make up a two pair. Two pair is the eighth-ranking hand and can only defeat one pair and a high card hand.
9. One Pair
One pair ranked ninth in the poker hands ranking, it consists of two cards of the same value, and three extra cards with different values. One pair is considered a low-level hand and it can only defeat a high-card hand.
The high card is the tenth and final ranking hand in poker. It consists of five different cards that do not interact with each other or form any of the above-mentioned poker hands. It is determined by the highest value of the cards in your hand.
What happens if there is more than one player holding the same rank of poker hand during the final betting round or showdown? How do we decide on the winner? Can we have a draw in poker?
When two or more players have the same hand strength at the end of a hand, the winner will then be decided with “the kicker”. A kicker is a key card that decides the winner if two or more players are tied with the same hand rank, and it is the highest card in a poker hand that’s not part of a made hand.
For instance, in the game of Texas Holdem, a player with AK can outkick another player’s AQ on an AJ945. Both players have a pair but AK has the better 5-card hand of AAKJ9 vs AAQJ9 where the K/Q, J, and 9 count as kickers.
What if the players have the same kicker?
Well, if there are two or more players holding the same strength and the same kicker of a poker hand. The next highest card will then be the kicker. If after all of the following kickers are still the same and can’t decide on the winner, the pot is split between the players.
However, you need to know that the kicker is not counted in every poker hand. Here’s a list of when kickers do and don’t count in poker:
- Ace high ✔️ Yes
- One pair ✔️ Yes
- Two pair ✔️ Yes
- Three of a Kind ✔️ Yes
- Straight ❌ No
- Flush ❌ No
- Full House ❌ No
- Four of a kind ✔️ Yes
- Straight Flush ❌ No
- Royal Flush ❌ No
Poker Hands Probability
Are you interested in knowing more about how likely you are to get the poker hand you want? What is the probability that you can get a royal flush? How often you can form a straight flush? Have you ever wondered about the poker hands probability?
In a standard poker game, the standard deck of 52 cards is used and it can form 2,598,960 possible combinations. Hence, from there we can calculate the probability of poker hands. Simply divide the number of possible ways to combine certain poker hands by the total number of poker hands and you will find the probability of each hand.
For example, we can find the odds of a royal flush like this:
4/2,598,960 = 0.000,001,539
As you can see, the odds of getting a royal flush are extremely low compared to One Pair with the odds of 0,422.569.03.
Here’s a complete list of the probability of poker hands:
- Royal Flush — 0.000,001,539
- Straight Flush — 0.000,015,39
- Four-of-a-Kind — 0.000,240,1
- Full House — 0.001,440,58
- Flush — 0.001,965,4
- Straight — 0.003,924,65
- Three-of-a-Kind — 0.021,128,45
- Two Pairs — 0,047,539,02
- One Pair — 0,422.569.03
Absolute Value and Relative Value of Poker Hands
In most poker games, there are many situations where a good hand can become less valuable and a poor hand becomes more valuable. In other words, this means that there is a difference between the absolute and relative value of poker hands. absolute value means the value reflected in the list of poker hands ranking; relative value means the value situated in the actual game.
For example, if you have two pair in a game of Texas Holdem, it would appear that you are holding a good hand. However, if you notice that your opponent keeps raising the bet and challenging you, there is a possibility that he is holding a greater poker hand than yours. He could be holding a flush or straight, making your two pair less valuable.
However, if your opponent keeps checking instead of calling or raising the bet, you might be holding the strongest poker hand and you should be bold with your hand. Hence, your hand’s “relative” value can be quite high even though its “absolute” value might not be.
It is also worth noting that the general poker hand rankings are not applicable in some poker variations like Razza, deuce-to-seven triple draw, Badugi, and others. These hand rankings apply to “high-card” or regular games only; “lowball” games have other hand rankings.
Low Poker Hand Rankings
As mentioned, there are some “lowball” poker variations where they will be using a different hand ranking structures. They are ranked in accordance with the low-hand winning in lowball, high-low, and other poker games. The highest-ranking card in a low hand without a combination is used to identify it. A hand with the values 10-6-5-3-2, for instance, is referred to as “10-down” or “10-low.”
Ace to Five
This is the most common system for ranking low hands. Straights and flushes don’t count, and aces are always low cards. The best hand in Ace-to-Five is 5-4-3-2-A. As in traditional poker, the high card is used to compare hands. Therefore, 6-4-3-2-A defeats both 7-4-3-2-A and 6-5-3-2-A. This is because 4 < 5 and 6 < 7.
The best hand with a pair is A-A-4-3-2, also known as California Lowball. A condition known as “eight or better” is frequently used in high-low poker games to qualify players to win a portion of the pot. To be taken into account, their hand must have an 8 or lower. The worst possible hand in this scenario is 8-7-6-5-4.
Deuce to Seven
The hands’ rankings in this system are very similar to those in traditional poker. Straights and flushes are included; the lowest hand wins. However, aces are always regarded as high cards in this system (A-2-3-4-5 is not a straight.) The best hand in this system is 7-5-4-3-2 (in mixed suits), which is a nod to the system’s name. The highest card is usually compared first. The worst hand with high cards in deuce-to-seven is A-K-Q-J-9, yet the greatest hand with a pair is 2-2-5-4-3. It’s also known as “Kansas City Lowball” in some circles.
Ace to Six
Straights and flushes count, while aces are low cards under this system, which is frequently employed in home poker games. 5-4-3-2-A is a poor hand under Ace-to-Six because it is straight. 6-4-3-2-A is the finest low hand. A-K-Q-J-10 is not straight because aces are low, hence it is referred to as king-down (or king-low). K-Q-J-10-A is lower than K-Q-J-10-2 because the ace is a low card. Additionally, two aces triumph over two twos.
Players can opt not to use their highest-value cards in games with more than five cards in order to create the lowest hand possible.
Hand Ranking with Wild Cards
Any card a player could require to construct a specific hand can be replaced by a wild card. Jokers are frequently added to the deck and utilized as wild cards (making the game played with 54 as opposed to 52 cards). 1+ cards may be chosen at the beginning as wild cards if players opt to continue with a normal deck. For instance, the “one-eyed jacks” or all the twos in the deck (deuces wild) (the jacks of hearts and spades). In general, wild cards can be used to replace any card not in a player’s hand or make a special hand — five of a kind.
Five of a Kind
With wild cards, the best hand of all is a Five of a Kind, which defeats a Royal Flush. The higher value of five cards wins when comparing five of a kind. The highest card is an ace.
Some poker games, most notably in five card draw, are played with the bug. The bug is an added joker which functions as a limited wild card. It may only be used as an ace or a card needed to complete a straight or a flush. Under this system, the highest hand is a five-of-a-kind of aces, but no other five-of-a-kind is legal. On a hand, with any other four of a kind, the joker counts as an ace kicker.
Wild Cards – Low Poker
A “fitter,” or card used to finish a hand that has the lowest value according to the low hand rating system in use, is the wild card in a low poker game. 6-5-3-2-joker would be regarded as 6-6-5-3-2 in traditional poker. The wild card in ace-to-five would be an ace, whereas in deuce-to-seven it would be a 7.
Lowest Card Wild
The player’s lowest card, or the lowest concealed card, may be used as a wild card in home poker games. During the showdown, this is applicable to the card with the lowest value. Under this variation, two are seen as low and aces as high.
Double Ace Flush
In this variation, the wild card may be ANY card, including one that a player already has in their possession. This makes it possible to get a double ace flush.
Natural Hand v. Wild Hand
According to a house rule, a “natural hand” triumphs over a hand that is equal to it but contains wild cards. More “wild” hands might be regarded as being better than less “wild” hands with fewer wild cards. This condition must be established prior to the transaction.
Different variations of poker use different sets of poker hand rankings and therefore different strategies of poker are required to play different kinds of poker games. Hence, poker hand ranking is one of the most crucial aspects that you should learn when playing poker. Identifying which hands are stronger and weakest can put you in a better position to win the game.