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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):
(h) Hearts (d) Diamonds (c) Clubs (s) Spades
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
Texas Holdem is a popular poker game played between two or more people. Two cards are dealt face down to each player, with up to five community cards dealt face up in the middle of each hand. Those community cards are then shared by all players.
Players can play either, both or none of their two hole cards and the highest-ranking five-card hand wins the pot. The thing is that because Holdem involves shared community cards, pots can often be split as hands are outranked by other hands.
In Texas Holdem, the best poker hand is a royal flush, followed by a straight flush and then on down.
In other variants the best hand differs. When you play Razz, for example, A-2-3-4-5 is the best hand, while in three-card brag 3-3-3 beats even A-A-A.
As Texas Holdem is the most popular variant played online and in casinos, well concentrate on those hand rankings:
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A royal flush is 10-J-Q-K-A of the same suit: 10h Jh Qh Kh Ah.
Five consecutive cards (non-royal) of the same suit: 2d 3d 4d 5d 6d.
Four of a Kind
Also known as quads, these are four identical value cards plus a kicker: 10d 6d 6h 6c 6s.
A full house is made up of a three-of-a-kind plus one pair: Kd Kc Ks 3d 3c.
A flush is five non-consecutive cards of the same suit: 3c 5c 10c Jc Ac.
A straight is made up of five non-suited cards in order: 3d 4c 5h 6c 7d.
Three Of a Kind
Three of a kind is made up of three matching cards plus two kickers: Ad Ac Ah 3d 8c.
Two-pair is made up of one pair of cards and another pair, plus a kicker: Jd Jc 3d 3c 7d.
This hand is made up of one equal pair and three unconnected cards: 10d 10c 3c 4h 5s.
Five unconnected cards make up this hand. The highest card plays in a showdown: Kh 10d 7c 6d 3h.
Most of the hands above contain kickers . These are the extra cards in a hand that can decide pots if two or more players have the same hand.
Heres an example:
Player 1 has A-A-K-K-3
Player 2 has A-A-K-K-7
The higher kicker, in this case the 7, would win the pot for Player 2.
Split pots can happen a lot in Texas Holdem because it s a community game.
Heres another example:
Player 1 has 10-J-Q-K-A
Player 2 has 6-7-8-9-A
The board reads 2-2-2-2-3
Despite Player 1 having a straight, the best hand available from each players hand and the board is 2-2-2-2-A (quad twos with each players ace acting as a kicker).
In this scenario, the pot would be split between the two players.
Knowing the rankings of starting hands is important. Its also good to know how often you are going to hit the starting hands you will be dealt in Holdem.
More importantly, you need to know how often you are going to win with them.
A pair is dealt every 220 hands or so (and if youre lucky, more often than that), so theyre pretty rare.
Even among pairs, high pairs are better than medium pairs and medium pairs better than small pairs.
A pair of aces, wins nearly 85% of the time, with a pair of kings beating out other hands 82% of the time. Queens drops further, to just under 80%.
Jacks, tens, nines, eights and sevens (medium pairs) range from 77 down to 65% in terms of win rate. A pair of 2s (deuces), finally, wins 49% of hands.
A rough ranking of starting hands in terms of their winning chances goes as follows. Remember, the starting hands which are worth playing always depends on the other players, the stage of the tournament and how much is at stake!):
Knowing what beats what in poker or Texas Holdem is an important early step in learning the game. To help you out, I have provided for you an attractive printable or downloadable cheat sheet for both 5 card hand rankings as well as top 24 pre-flop starting hands.
Poker hands ranked from best to worst:
To make things easier on you, I have included some handy charts that can be used to reference during play or even printed out.
Never forget what beats what again. Feel free to save this to your phone/tablet/computer or print the chart out.
Click below to download a high-quality PDF that includes a printable copy of both the showdown and pre-flop hand rankings.
To help you out, I have also included the top 24 no-limit holdem starting hands to give you a further idea of what beats what in poker. I based this list on both raw equities as well as post-flop playability.
I have used over 10 years of experience in both tournaments and cash games to compile this info. You get to benefit from my hard work!
I took a look at a few of the pre-flop hand ranking charts out there and, while most appeared to get it right for the most part, there seemed to be something off.
The thing is, everyone always does pretty well on the top 5 or 6 hands. However, after that things get a bit murkier .
So, what really matters when it comes to weighing hand strength? I decided to take a close look at the problem. Using the knowledge Ive gained over the past few years, I tried to come up with a better way of codifying hand rankings.
I decided to go about it from a logical standpoint. When deciding whether to play a hand or not, what are the factors a strong player considers before acting ?
So, I decided that there are basically two main factors to consider in determining the strength of a particular pre-flop hand. And, since equity is the tool we use to rank the value of hands I just had to figure out what type of equities matter most and then apply it to each factor .
Once I was able to define which equities to consider, it just took a bit of math.
The first equity I decided to factor in is a hands raw pre-flop equity. I mean, sometimes you need to get all-in before the flop, right?
Of course, some hands will get all-in more frequently than others but for the sake of simplicity, raw equity against a strong range will give us a decent enough metric to come up with a comparative ranking.
Secondly, we need to factor in how a hand does post-flop. There s no doubt, that certain hands play much better after the flop than others.
To calculate how well a hand does after the flop I looked at what post-flop hands tend to get all-in most of the time in a post-flop scenario. This includes the strongest made hands, including top pair and better, as well as strong draws.
Once I was able to figure out what hands are likely to get all-in, I just had to figure out the equity of every hand versus that range on a random flop.
Doing these kinds of calculations by hand would be extremely difficult and time-consuming. Luckily, there is a software program called Cardrunner s EV that does the math for me.
After I figured out both the raw pre-flop equity and the likely flop equity of each hand, I just used excel to average them. That data was used to compile the rankings.
Here are the final equity percentages:
Knowing which hands to open raise is important to your success. Dont worry, Ive got you covered.
I have built charts that provide you profitable opening ranges from every position. As a bonus, the charts also include what to do at every decision point possible for playing a 20 to 40 big blind stack .
Just provide the following info, subscribe to my spam-free newsletter, and I will email you the charts along with the comprehensive 10-page strategy guide for free!
For poker players, especially ones that just started, the poker hand ranking can be confusing. They often ask does my flush beats the straight or is the straight better? Or I had three pairs, why did I lose ? They don t know which hand is stronger than the other and so we decided to put out an article to help you with that question. No more arguments with friends on what beats what.
Our Poker Hand Chart starts with the strongest hand Royal Flush and ends with the weakest hand High Card.
The Royal Flush is the strongest possible hand and is made of ten, jack, queen, king, ace in the same suit (colour).
The probability of hitting a royal flush till the river is around 650.000 : 1
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