Poker Hands

In a Poker game there are generally predetermined rules that are set out to the variants of the poker game being played. Each player then has to according to the rules construct hands of five cards. These hands are then compared and the player with the highest ranking hand wins that deal.

The strength of each hand is increased by having multiple cards of either the same rank, being from the same suit, or having all the cards with consecutive values. The position of the various possible hands is based on the probability of being randomly dealt such a hand.

Straight Flush

A straight flush is a poker hand such as Q,J,10,9,8, all of the same suite, which contains five cards in sequence. Two such hands are compared by their highest card. Suits have no relative value, however two identical straight flushes tie. Aces can play low in straights and straight flushes. 5,4,3,2,A of any one suit is a 5–high straight flush, also known as a "steel wheel". An ace-high straight flush such as A,K,Q,J,10 of any suit is known as a royal flush, and is the highest ranking standard poker hand.

Four of a kind

Four of a kind, also known as quads, is a poker hand such as 9 of Spades, 9 Hearts, 9 of Diamonds, 9 of Clubs and any other card of any other suit. It ranks above a full house and below a straight flush. Higher ranking quads defeat lower ranking ones. In community-card games,such as Texas Hold 'em, or games with wildcards it is possible for two or more players to obtain the same quad.

Full house

A full house, also known as a full boat, is a hand which contains three matching cards of one rank, and two matching cards of another rank. It ranks below a four of a kind and above a flush. Between two full houses, the one with the higher ranking set of three wins. If two hands have the same set of three (possible in wild card and community card games), the hand with the higher pair wins.


A flush is a poker hand such as Q,10,7,6,4 of the same suit, not in rank sequence. It ranks above a straight and below a full house. Two flushes are compared as if they were high card hands where the highest ranking card of each determines the winner. If both hands have the same highest card, then the second-highest ranking card is compared, and so on until a difference is found. If the two flushes contain the same five ranks of cards, they are tied – suits are not used to differentiate them. Flushes are described by their highest card, as in "queen-high flush" ,"king-ten-high flush" and so on.


A straight is a poker hand consisting Q,J,10,9,8 which contains five cards of sequential rank but in more than one suit. It ranks above three of a kind and below a flush. Two straights are ranked by comparing the highest card of each, suits are not used to separate them. Straights are described by their highest card, as in "Queen-high straight" or "straight to the Queen".

Three of a kind

Three of a kind, also called trips, set or a prile - the latter from its use in three card poker, is a poker hand which contains three cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards. It ranks above two pair and below a straight. In Texas hold 'em and other flop games, a "set" refers specifically to a three of a kind comprised of a pocket pair and one card of matching rank on the board (as opposed to two matching cards on the board and a third in the player's hand). Higher-valued three of a kind defeat lower-valued three of a kind. If two hands contain threes of a kind of the same value, possible in games with wild cards or community cards, the kickers are compared to break the tie.

Two pair

A poker hand of two pairs contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank, plus one unmatched card, is called two pair. It ranks above one pair and below three of a kind. To rank two hands both containing two pair, the higher ranking pair of each is first compared, and the higher pair wins. If both hands have the same "top pair", then the second pair of each is compared. Finally, if both hands have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner. Two pair are described by the higher pair first, followed by the lower pair if necessary.

One pair

One pair is a poker hand which contains two cards of the same rank, plus three other unmatched cards. It ranks above any high card hand, but below all other poker hands. Higher ranking pairs defeat lower ranking pairs. If two hands have the same pair, the non-paired cards (the kickers) are compared in descending order to determine the winner.

High card

A high-card or no-pair hand is a poker hand in which no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not in sequence, and the five cards are not all the same suit. It is also referred to as "no pair", as well as "nothing", "garbage," and various other derogatory terms. High card ranks below all other poker hands. Two such hands are ranked by comparing the highest ranking card. If those are equal, then the next highest ranking card from each hand is compared, and so on until a difference is found. High card hands are described by the one or two highest cards in the hand, such as "king high", "ace-queen high", or by as many cards as are necessary to break a tie.

Variation 1 - Decks using a bug

The use of a joker as a bug creates a slight variation to the game play - when a joker is introduced it most commonly functions as a fifth ace, unless it can be used to complete a flush or straight. Normally casino draw poker variants use a joker, and thus the best possible hand is five of a kind Aces. In casino lowball, the joker plays as the the lowest card not already in the hand.

Variation 2 - Lowball

Some games called lowball or low poker are played with the hand rankings the same but the objective reversed. Players strive not for the highest ranking of the above hands but for the lowest ranking hand. There are three methods of ranking low hands, called ace-to-five low, deuce-to-seven low, and ace-to-six low, of which the ace-to-five method is most common. A variant within this category is high-low poker, in which the highest and lowest hands split the pot, with the highest hand taking any odd chips if the pot does not divide equally.