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Texas Holdem Hand Ranks

One would be surprised to learn how many players at casinos, especially tourists, who sit down at higher stakes poker games without even knowing for sure what the hand rankings are. As an up and coming player looking to master Texas Hold'em, let's get this basic foundation of the game under our belts early. The hands below are ranked from strongest at the top on down to the weakest.

Royal Flush

A Royal Flush is an ace high straight flush. Five cards, ten, Jack, Queen, King, Ace, all of the same suit. A Royal Flush is the best hand in poker.

Straight Flush

5 Cards of the same suit in sequence. 5,6,7,8,9, all of hearts would be an example. In the very rare circumstance that two players have a straight flush in the same hand, the higher ranked card would win. A Jack high straight flush (7,8,9,10,J) would beat the nine high straight flush in the first example. Otherwise, a straight flush beats every hand except a Royal Flush.

Four-of-a-kind

Any 4 cards of the same rank and an unrelated card. Example: Q, Q, Q, Q, 8. The player has four queens while the 8 kicker is irrelevant. The higher the ranking, the better than hand. The four queens above would be beaten by a player holding four aces. Quads beats all hands except higher quads or straight and Royal flushes.

Full House

A full house is the next highest ranked hand in poker. A full house is built by having three cards of one rank and two of another rank. Example: JJJ33. The player holds three jacks and two 3's. The rank of the full house is noted and ranked according to the three cards he holds. The hand above would be called "jacks full of threes," and would beat another player's full house that held 999AA. Even though the second player's hand has two aces, his rank is determined by his three nines. In this case, his hand is "nines full of aces." "Jacks full" beats "nines full".

Flush

A flush is any five cards of the same suit and is our next strongest hand. If two players have a flush, the winner is determined by whoever has the highest ranked cards in his flush. Example: A,K,8,3,2 would beat an A,Q,J,9,8 flush. Though both their top cards are aces, the first hand holds a king as his next card, which beats the other players second ranked Queen card.

Straight

A straight is any 5 cards in sequence, not all of the same suit. Example: 8,9,10,Jack,Queen. The higher the sequence the stronger the straight. A queen high straight would beat a jack high straight. One can also form the "bicycle straight" with A,2,3,4,5.

Three-of-a-kind

Any three cards of the same rank. This is also called trips or a set. The higher the rank of the three cards, the stronger the hand. Three kings beats three jacks, for example.

Two Pair

Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank create "two pair." The higher rank determines the strength of the hand. "Aces and two's" would beat "Kings and Queens." If two players hold two of the same higher rank, then the rank of the 2nd pairs determines the winner. Example: Aces and Ten's would beat Aces and Two's. On a side note, two pair is often referred to as the higher ranking followed by "up." Aces and two's might be referred to as "Aces up."

One Pair

A pair is two cards of the same rank and three unrelated cards. The higher the rank, the stronger the hand. If two players hold the same ranked pair, then the value of the unrelated side cards will determine the winner. Example: A, A, J, 8, 2 would beat A, A, 9, 5, 4, because the first player's highest ranked side card (jack) is stronger than the 2nd player's side card (9)

No Pair - High Card

If no one has at least a pair, then the player with the highest card (or cards), wins. A player holding "ace high" would beat a player holding "king high." If two players' high cards are of the same rank then they move their next highest card in succession.




What happens if the players "tie" for top hand?

Though it is somewhat rare, if two players have hands of equal value, then they split the pot equally between them.