Poker 101: Hand Ranks

poker hand ranks

A firm grip on poker hand ranks is the first thing you should master as a poker newbie.

There’s no other way to understand what players are doing and why until you find out what hands are valuable. And if you are holding some of those valuable cards too, it’s very important that you figure it out fast! So we’re going to give you a quick guide to exactly what they are.

Poker hand ranks from strongest to weakest

Royal flush

The creme de la creme of poker hand ranks is an ace-high straight flush. In other words, a card made of five consecutive cards of the same suit, with the Ace being the highest. Also known as a royal flush, these are unbeatable yet rare. Everyone remembers their first royal flush, we’re hoping yours comes around sooner rather than later!

Straight flush

Just like a royal flush, but instead of an ace topping it off, it’s also made of five consecutive cards of the same suit. The powerful hand demands attention and just might tilt the game in your favor.

Four of a kind

A quartet of matching cards, like four kings. This hand exudes strength and often leads to big wins.

Full house

Here we’ve got three cards of one rank, paired with a duo of another. Certainly a very robust hand.

Flush

Five cards of the same suit, but not in sequence. This card can drench your bankroll with earnings, if you’re lucky.

Straight

Five successive cards of any suit. This simple hand can come out of nowhere to trounce opponents.

Three of a kind

A trio of cards of the same rank. It is a solid poker hand rank, but proceed with caution if the board doesn’t look like it’s in your favor.

Two pair

Two sets of cards with the same rank. For example, two Kings and two sixes. Yes, it’s a respectable hand, but don’t let it blind you to the other possibilities.

One pair

A single pair of matching cards. This is common in poker, which is why it languishes towards the bottom of the poker hand ranks. However, don’t underestimate it in the heat of the game.

High card

Rarely a winner. this power of this hand lies in whatever the highest ranked card is in your hand.

The variants where poker hand ranks don’t stack up like this

While these poker hand ranks are the way it is for the vast majority of traditional poker games, including Texas Hold’em, there are a few notable exceptions. The main one is Six Plus Hold’em, where rankings are all shook up thanks to the fact you’re playing with a 36-card deck and not a 52-card deck.

Other common places the rules diverge from the norm are lowball style games, where the rankings are reversed. So suddenly you’re vying for a high card instead of a royal flush! We also love a bit of Omaha Hi-Lo where both the highest and lowest ranking cards will the pot.

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