Poker School

Poker Hand Rankings

The power of poker hands is decided based on how rare or common it is to occur or to get dealt in a game, with a progression of value from most common hand to the rarest hand of all. The following are the list of all poker hands, in escalating order of rarity.

  1. High card
  2. One pair
  3. Two pair
  4. Three of a kind(also known as "trips" or "a set")
  5. Straight
  6. Flush
  7. Full house
  8. Four of a kind( also known as "quads")
  9. Straight flush

High Card

If you are not having any of the hands like one pair, straight, flush, full house etc. the highest card you are holding will be taken into consideration. In the above mentioned 5 card hand, there is no combination of any hands and Ace is the best card. Hence the best hand here is an "ace high".

In case of absence of an Ace, the second highest card King involves in the hand to create "king high", if not next powerful card queen makes "Queen high", and it goes on.

Sometimes, the high card of two players becomes the same. Here, the second highest card will be considered. If the players are sharing their second highest cards the third highest card becomes decisive. These cards come into action only when the players share the same high cards. Such cards are known as kicker cards or simply the kicker.

High card ace, king kicker:

The board:10♠5♥2♠J♦4♣

Player X:AK

Player Y:AQ

Here, both the players X and Y are having Ace high. Player X wins the pot since he has king as his second powerful hand (the kicker).


One Pair

If you made a hand containing two cards of the same value, you are holding a pair. There is a "pair of aces" with a king kicker In the 5 card hand displayed above. A pair of aces beats any other hand which contains only a pair (Ace is the highest card in poker). The king kicker would be taken into consideration only if your opponent is also holding a pair of aces.


Two Pair

If you made two different pairs in your five card hand, you are said to be holding a "two pair". In the hand mentioned above, there is two pair, Aces and Jacks.

While ranking two pair, the highest pair of the two will be taken into consideration. For example, two pair, aces and twos, beats two pair, Kings and Queens.(AA♦2♠2♣5♣ is more powerful than QQKK♦3♠)

If two players are sharing the same highest pair, the smaller pair becomes decisive. For example, two pair, Aces and Threes, beats two pair, Aces and Twos.(AA♥3♦3♠9♣ is more powerful than AA♣2♥2♠5♠)

In case if two players are having the same two pairs, then the power of the fifth card in the hand will be considered.(8♣8♦9♠9♥J♣ beats 8♠8♥9♣9♦10♠)


Three of a Kind

When three cards of the same rank appears in a hand, you made a "three of a kind". Also known by the names "trips" or "a set", usually dependent on the exact way in which the hand was formed.

You are said to be having a set when your hole cards consists of a pair and one of the community cards on the board is of the same rank. For example, you are holding JJ♠ and the board came as 10♥6♠JAQ♦, here you have a set with JJJ♣.If the board already has a pair and one of the hole card is of the same rank, you have trips. For example, your hole cards are JQ♦, and the board is 10♠JJ♥7♣5♠.

A set is preferred over trips, as trips increases the chances of your opponent having the same three of a kind, with a better kicker or even a full house.



A straight is made when you are having five consecutive cards of different suits. The hand shown above is a "queen high straight" as the highest card is a queen. In a showdown were two players are having straights, the player with higher straight wins the pot. "Ace high straight" is the most powerful straight.



A flush is made up of five non-consecutive cards which are of the same suit. A flush can be made with any of the four suits in the game, the rank of the highest card in your flush matters when you are up against an opponent with flush.

A "nut flush" is the name used to mention the highest possible flush, which is "Ace high flush". For example, if you are holding KA♣ and the flop shows 4♣5♣8♣, you said to have flopped a nut flush.

As mentioned earlier, if two players are having a flush, the player with the highest card wins. If both of the players share the same high card, the second-highest card will be considered, and so on.

For example,

The Board: AQ♥5♣K♥2♥

Player X: 5♥7♥

Player Y: 8♠ J

Here, both of the players X and Y are having "Ace high flush". Player Y wins the pot since he is holding the fourth highest card (J♥).


FUll House

When a three of kind is combined with a pair, a full house is made. The hand displayed above is called as "kings full of queens" as the player has three kings and two queens. A full house is also called as a "boat".

The rank of three of a kind in the full house is considered while two players are having a full house. For example, KKKQQ♠ beats QQQKK♣.


Four of a kind

Four of a kind is a five card hand consisting of four cards of the same rank and one card of a different rank, it is also known as "quads". In rare situations were two players have four of a kind, the player having the four of a kind with the highest card rank wins.

If two players are having the same four of a kind, then the kicker card will be considered to decide the winner.

For example,

The board: AAAA♠2♥

Player X: KQ

Player Y: JQ

Here, both of the players X and Y are having four of a kind. Player X wins the pot since he is holding the highest kicker card King.


Straight Flush

A straight flush is a five card hand consisting of five consecutive cards which are of the same suit. In a showdown were two players are having straight flush, the player holding the highest card wins.

The highest possible straight flush or the most powerful hand in poker is an Ace-high straight flush, also known by the name "royal flush".


Royal Flush

A royal flush is made out of a straight with five cards of the same suit from ten to ace. Royal flush is one of the rarest hands in poker hence it is not usually found.

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