Just the Basics for Poker Newbies – Ranking of Poker Hands

Though private or home games of poker can have any rules that they wish, at a casino, the rules governing the ranking of hands is always consistent. Poker is usually played with a 52-card deck. The ranking of those individual cards from highest to lowest is ace, king, queen, jack, ten, nine, eight, and seven, and so on down to two, which is often referred to as deuce. There is no ranking amongst suits; this means that a jack of hearts is equal to a jack of diamonds.

A poker hand will be comprised of five cards. Poker hands are ranked and categorized. In this article the different hands are listed from highest to lowest, meaning a higher category will beat any hand falling in a category beneath it.

The highest hand in poker is called the royal flush. It is made up of an ace, king, queen, jack, and ten, all of the same suit. Because all suits are considered equal, all royal flushes are equal as well.

Beneath a royal flush is a straight flush. A straight flush is any five cards in a sequence that are of the same suit. If two players have straight flushes the one with the higher top card is the winner. In a straight flush an ace can be considered as a low, being placed after two, almost as if it was a one.

The next ranking hand is a four of a kind. This is used to describe four cards of the same ranking,; for example four threes. In this hand the fifth card can be anything. A four of a kind may also be referred to as a quad. If two players have a four of a kind hand, the highest set of four wins.

A full of house is the next ranked hand in poker. It is comprised of three cards of one rank and two of another rank. For example, three sixes, and two sevens would be considered a full house. If two players have a full house the one with the higher set of three cards wins.

A flush is a hand with any five cards of the same suit, not in any particular order. If two players have flushes then the highest top card wins. If the top cards are the same then you would compare the second highest card in the hand.

The next category of poker hand is a straight. This is a hand with five cards in sequence of any suit. An ace in a straight can be either high or low. When comparing two straights the one with the highest top card wins.

Next is a three of a kind. This hand contains three cards of the same rank. The other two cards can be anything. This hand is also referred to as triplets or trips. If two players have a three of a kind then the one with the heist top card wins the hand.

The next type of poker hand is two pairs. This hand consists of two sets of two cards of the same rank. For example, a hand with two eights and two jacks would describe two pairs. If more than one player has two pairs then the one with the highest pair wins.

The next ranked hand is a pair. This is simply a hand with two cards of the same ranks, and three cards that don’t match. If two players have pairs the one that is higher wins. If both pairs are the same then compare the highest-ranking card not in the pair.

If no players have ands that fall into any of these categories then the player with the highest individual card wins.


Darnell V. Denman
Poker Player

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