Poker Hand Rankings
The highest hand in poker, the royal flush is a poker hand which contains the A,K,Q,J and 10, all of the same suit.
A straight flush is a poker hand which contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit. Two such hands are compared by their high card in the same way as are straights (the low ace rule also applies).
Four-of-a-kind, also known as quads, is a poker hand which contains four cards of one rank, and an unmatched card. It ranks above a full house and below a straight flush. Higher ranking quads defeat lower ranking ones. Between two equal sets of four of a kind (possible in wild card and community card games), the kicker determines the winner.
A full house, also known as a ‘boat‘ or a ‘full boat‘, is a poker hand which contains three matching cards of one rank, plus 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 have the same set of three (possible in wild card and community card games), the hand with the higher pair wins. Full houses are described by the three of a kind (e.g. K-K-K) and pair (e.g. 9-9), as in “kings over nines” (also used to describe a two pair), “Kings full of nines” or simply “Kings full”.
A flush is a poker hand which contains five cards 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. In other words, the highest ranking card of each is compared to determine the winner; if both have the same high card, then the second-highest ranking card is compared, and so on. The suits have no value: two flushes with the same five ranks of cards are tied. Flushes are described by the highest card in the hand, as in “king-high flush”.
A straight is a poker hand which contains five cards of sequential rank, consisting of varying suits. It ranks above three-of-a-kind and below a flush. Two straights are ranked by comparing the high card in each hand. Two straights with the same high card are of equal value, and split any winnings (straights are the most commonly tied hands in poker, especially in community card games). Straights are described by the highest card, as in “king-high straight” or “straight to the king”.
A hand such as A,K,Q,J,10 is an ace-high straight, and ranks above a king-high straight such as K,Q,J,10,9. But the ace may also be played as a 1-spot in a hand such as 5,4,3,2,A, called a wheel or five-high straight, which ranks below the six-high straight 6,5,4,3,2. The ace may not “wrap around”, or play both high and low in the same hand: 3,2,A,K,Q.
Three of a kind, also called trips, or set, 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. Higher ranking three of a kind defeat lower ranking three of a kinds. If two hands have the same rank three of a kind (possible in games with wild cards or community cards), the kickers are compared to break the tie.
A poker hand which contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank (that match each other but not the first pair), plus one unmatched card, is called two pair. It ranks above one pair and below three of a kind. Between two hands containing two pair, the higher ranking pair of each is first compared, and the higher pair wins. If both 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, as in “Kings over trey” or simply “Kings up”.
One pair is a poker hand which contains two cards of the same rank, plus three 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 rank of pair, the non-paired cards in each hand (the kickers) are compared to determine the winner.
A high-card or no-pair hand is a poker hand in which no two cards have the same rank (number or letter), the five cards are not in sequence, and the five cards are not all of the same suit. It 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; if those are equal, then the third highest ranking card, and so on. No-pair hands are described by the one or two highest cards in the hand, such as “ace high” or “ace-king high”, or by as many cards as are necessary to break a tie.