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Poker Hand Ranking: The Essentials Of The Game

Written by Jason Frakk. Last updated on

A poker hand is the set of random cards that are dealt to you by the card dealer.

You do not have the power to control what fate deals you but you do need to know how much of a chance you have of winning when you are given the cards to take on others.

The fact that other players are also given cards, which you do not know about makes knowing the quality of your hand extremely important in poker, though the probability of other players bluffing in poker does exist, you need to know how much of a chance you have of winning a game.

There are certain hands which are sure shots to victory and we will help you out with the following set of hands which have been ranked for your convenience.

You need to remember though that apart from a few hands in this list which will guarantee you wins, the element of luck is always there and other players can be dealt stronger hands when you have a hand which is lower in rank, so always be sure of your action when you are provided a poker hand.

We will start with the traditional poker hand rankings:

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Royal Flush

royal flush

Possibly the best hand available in the game of poker, a royal flush contains at least four cards which are of the same suit and have an ace, king, queen, jack and 10.

This is an unbeatable hand and is a sure shot to give you the win in the game.

Straight Flush

straight poker

This set of cards would contain five cards of the same suit in a consecutive order, for example a 10, 9 8, 7 and 6 of diamonds.

If two people have a straight flush, the one which has a higher set of cards would be declared the winner.

Four of a kind

four of a kind

The next best set of cards which you can be dealt are four cards of the same rank.

So a person having four 8’s in his hand and the fifth card can be of another rank, this is an example of four of a kind.

If two players have a four of a kind, then we look at the ranks of the cards and if they are found to be the same then we look at the rank of the kicker card (fifth card).

Full House

full house

A full house contains three cards of the same rank and then two cards which are of a different but matching rank.

For example a player having three queens and two 8’s is said to have a full house.

Again the above rule of checking ranks applies, first to the set of three cards and then to the set of two cards to decide a winner if the more than one player has a full house.


flush poker

This hand consists of five cards which are of the same rank but in no particular sequence.

If two players hold flushes then we look at the strength of the hand before deciding who the winner is.

For example a player holding the 5, 7, 8, 10 and Jack of hearts has a flush.


straight poker

In the event of not having any of the above hand, the next best hand is called a straight and it consists of five cards of any suit in sequence.

In the event that two players hold straights then the hand which has the highest ranked card wins.

Three of a kind

three of a kind poker

As the name suggest this consists of three cards which are of the same rank.

The other two cards can be of any other rank or colour.

Again in case there are two players who hold a three of a kind, the player with the higher ranked card wins.

Two pair

two pair

If a person holds two cards of the same rank and the other cards are of a different rank then it is said to be a two pair.

The same rule of determining the winner when two players hold two pairs is that the one with the higher ranked two pair cards wins.

If not then we look at the rank of the other cards in the hand.

One pair

one pair

If a player holds a pair of cards of the same rank then it is said to hold a one pair.

If two players hold a one pair then we look at the strength of the pair of cards and then if that is the same we look at the other cards in the hand to determine a winner.

High card

high card

Any hand that does not qualify from the above list, this might be a rarity in the game of poker but we would look at the highest rank of the cards that you have to decide who the winner is.

These ranks should help you out when you play the game of poker and should help you decide who the winner of each hand will be.

Of course the other forms of the game have a different ranking system which needs to be known.

You do need to know which game you are playing before you set the rules out.

The many variations of poker might interest you in finding out about the ranks in other games.

There are lo-hi games as well which has a different ranking system.

So try out the other games and have some fun!

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