Hand ranking

The hands rank from best to worst

In poker, a pot is won by the best hand. This is decided by a hand ranking which included ten different classifications.

Royal straight flush

royal flushA ten to ace in the same color, which has the same value regardless of colors.

Straight flush

straight flushFive connected cards in one color. If more than one player has a straight flush in the same hand, the straight with the highest card wins.

Four of a kind

four of a kindFour cards of the same value. If more than one player has four of a kind, the hand with the highest cards win.

Full house

full houseThree cards of one value and two cards of another value. If more than has player have a full house, the hand with the highest trips win.

Flush

flushFive cards in the same color. If more than one player has a flush, the one with the highest top card wins.

Straight

straightFive connected cards of different suits. If many players have straights, the highest straight is winning.

Three of a kind

three of a kindThree cards of the same value. If many players have the same trips, the kicker will decide the winner.

Two pairs

two pairsTwo pairs of different values. If many players have two pairs the hand with the highest pair will win.

Pair

PairTwo cards of the same value. If many players have the same pair, the highest kicker will decide the winner.

High card

High cardA hand without combinations. If no one has a pair or better, the highest card will win.

Hand categories

All hand categories explained.

Royal straight flush

This is the best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is only 1 in 649,741. There are only four possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

In Texas Hold’em, the probabilities increase since a hand is made upon seven cards (two hole cards and seven community cars). Thus, the probabilities increase even more in Omaha in which nine cards can be combined.

A royal straight flush consists of an ace, a king, a queen, a knight and a ten in the same color. The suit doesn’t matter, in other words a royal straight flush in spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds are of the same value (if the rule for a specific game don’t dictate otherwise).
Royal straight flush can also be named only Royal flush.

Straight flush

This is the second best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 72,193. There are 36 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A straight flush is almost the same thing as a royal straight flush. The difference is that a royal flush includes the ten-ace straight whereas a straight flush includes the rest of the combinations. A straight flush, therefore, range from A-5 to 9-K.

A straight flush is made of five cards in the same suit and in order. It can be seen as a combined flush and straight.  

Four of a kind

A four of a kind (a.k.a. squads) is the third best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 4166. There are 624 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A four of a kind is made by four cards of the same value, for example four aces or four duces. If two four of a kind is contesting, the hand is won by the highest four of a kind. Thus, be possible best four a kind-hand is four aces (and a king as kicker). The suit doesn’t matter.

Full house

A full house is the fourth best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 693. There are 3744 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A full house includes a three of the kind and a pair. For example, A-A-A-K-K.

It is important to know that the value of a full house is primarily decided by the three cards. Hence, A-A-A-K-K win over K-K-K-A-A.

Flush

A flush is the fifth best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 509. There are 5108 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A flush hand includes five cards in the same suit, or flush.

When two flush hands are contesting for the pot, the hand with the highest cards win. For example, A♣-8♣-6♣-5♣-3♣- beat K♠-Q♠-T♠-7♠-6♠.

Straight

A flush is the sixth hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 255. There are 10,200 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A straight is made by five cards in sequence, for example 3-4-5-6-7.

When to straight compete, the straight with the highest card win.

Three of the kind

A three of a kind (a.k.a. trips or set) is the seventh best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 47. There are 54,912 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A three of a kind consist of three cards of the same value, for example A-A-A-x-x. If two players or more have three of a kind, the three of a kind with the highest cards win. Thus, be possible best three a kind-hand is three aces (and a king, queen as side cards).

Two pair

A two pair (not who pairs) is the eighth best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is 1 in 21. There are 123,552 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

A two pair hand is made by two pair in different values, for example 6-6-4-4-x.
If two players or more have two pairs, the players with the highest pair win. Thus, A-A-2-2-x beat K-K-Q-Q-x.

One pair

A pair is the ninth best hand in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is little more than 1 in 2. There are 1,098,240 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

One pair is made by two cards of the same value. If two pairs compete, the highest pair wins. If two pair with the same value compete, the hand with the best kicker win. For example, A-A-K-x-x beat A-A-7-x-x.

High card

A high card is the hand with the lowest value in poker and the probability to de dealt this hand from a card deck in five cards is less than 1 in 2, which makes it the most plausible hand to be dealt. There are 1,302,540 possible combinations from a 52-card deck.

If none of the players hold a hand with a pair or better, the hand with the highest card win.

The reason behind the ranking

The grouping of hands is made upon their probabilities. A hand with low frequency is ranked higher than a hand with higher frequency.

There is a huge difference in frequency between the highest ranked hand, royal straight flush, and the second most common hand, one pair.

But regardless the hand the winnings are not affected. You cannot win more than the pot, therefore, a straight flush doesn’t necessary win a bigger pot than a high card. In reality, a very strong hand such as a full house can win big pots because an opponent with another strong hand such as a flush will be willing to invest a lot in the pot.

Playing examples

Here are some examples that shows which hand win depending on the hand rank.

Four of a kind vs. full house – the four of a kind wins
Flush vs. straight – flush wins
Two pair vs. three of a kind – three of a kind wins
Full house vs. straight flush – straight flush wins
Three of a kind vs. straight – straight wins
Full house vs. flush – full house wins

Final notice

This ranking refers to most common poker games including Texas hold'em, Omaha, Draw and Stud. In split poker variations such as Omaha High/Low and High/Low Stud, the ranking differs.