The Top Poker Hand Rankings
The following page describes the ranking of poker hands. These are predominantly used in the Texas Hold'em and Omaha games, however can also be applicable to other card games such as Chinese Poker, Chicago, Poker Menteur and Paid Gow Poker.
Hold'em and Omaha Hand Ranking
In a given game of Hold'em or Omaha poker, players should use a full pack of 52 cards (including 4 suits), with jokers excluded. The ranking of individual cards follows upwards from 2. Thus, 2 would be the lowest ranking card, and Ace the highest. (Note however, that Aces can serve duo-purposes; with the Ace also providing the equivalent of 'one' in straights - i.e. A 2 3 4 5.
In both Hold'em and Omaha, each poker hand must consist of 5 cards. We can distinguish between community cards - which are 'shared' cards facing up in the middle of the table and are available for all players to use, as well as pocket cards - which are the 2 hidden cards each player is dealt individually. Most notably, the biggest difference between Hold'em and Omaha is that in Hold'em, players can use any of the 7 cards available to them to form their best five-carded hand. In Omaha however, the player must use both of his pocket cards in any 5-handed hand. Other than this, the rules of the two games are pretty much identical.
With respect to hand ranking, there are a number of simple levels of hand that will win a player a pot. Palpably, the player with the best hand (highest ranked), will win the pot and a new round of betting and cards will be dealt.
The following section provides the order and ranking of all the different hands. Also note, one of the core fundamentals in the hand ranking system is the better the hand, the rarer it is, and smaller probability of it happening.
This represents the highest and rarest hand. It consists of Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten - all in the same suit. The type of suit makes no difference.
Five cards of the same suit in consecutive sequence. For example, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, of the same suit, or A, 2, 3, 4, 5 of the same suit. Again, the type of suit makes no difference. It should also be noted that whilst the Ace can be used as the highest and lowest card, Straight Flushes, nor can regular Straights, be formed with the Ace not starting or finishing the sequence. For example - J Q K A 2 cannot be used as the Ace is not ending/starting the sequence.
Four Of A Kind
Simple as it sounds, Four of a Kind is just any 4 of the same cards in one hand - For example 4444, or JJJJ. It should also be noted to new players, that 4 of a kind does not fulfill the requirements of a five-card hand. Thus, if two or more players indeed both had 4 of a kind of the same card, 5th card or "kicker" would determine whoever wins. Obviously, the higher the kicker, the stronger the hand, thus 4, 4, 4, 4, K would beat 4, 4, 4, 4, 10.
Full House is one of the best hands that players will usually acquire in ordinary tournament or ring-table games. The hand consists of both a pair - that is two of the same card value, along with three of kind. For example 3, 3, 3, 2, 2 or J, J, J, 5, 5. In live texas holdem poker events and games, the specific type of full house is noted as 3's over 2's for the example above or J's over 5's. The emphasis on the strength of the full house when comparing to other full house hands is always on the dominating set (the ranking of the 3 identical card values). For example, in a showdown, 8, 8, 8, 4, 4 beats 7, 7, 7, A, A.
Next down the rankings is the flush. Still rare, and still of considerably high ranking (particularly in Hold'em games), the flush is 5 of any cards of the same suit. No suit trumps another i.e. all suits have equal value. The strength of suit is always decided by the highest card each player has in that suit. For example - player a, with 3, 6, 2, ,K 5, will beat player b who's holding 2, 6, 2 Q, 5. If the highest card of the suit is equal, then the deciding factor is the second highest card and so on. If both/all players in the pot have the exact same hand and strength of suit, then the pot is drawn.
Five cards of mixed suit in sequential order - such as 6, 7, ,8 ,9 , 10. The player with the highest straight, that is, sequence of five cards that overall ends in a higher card value, will win - for example A, 2, 3, 4, 5 loses to 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Remember that like a straight flush, an Ace must start or end the sequence of numbers.
Three of a Kind
Like the name suggests, Three of a Kind is when a player has 3 cards of the same face value, such as 5, 5, 5, Q, J or 9, 9, 9, A, K. A higher Three of a Kind beats a lower Three of a Kind, and in common poker terminology this hand is often known as a "set". If two or more players have the same 3 of a Kind, then the pot and winner is decided by the strength of the other two cards present in the hand.
A Two Pair is simply 2 different pairs of cards in the same hand, such as 2, 2, 5, 5, A or 8, 8, 3, 3,9. Like Full House, the winning 2 pair is decided by the highest pair a player owns. If two players have the same Two Pair, then the hand is won with the kicker (if this is also the same, the pot is split).
One of the most common hands you'll witness at the tables, a pair is a hand including 2 of the same value of card, irrelevant of the other cards in the hand or their suit - For example 3, 3, 7, 4, 9. Again, if both players have a pair, the stronger pair wins the hand. And if both players have the same pair, then the hand is decided by the player with the highest card out of the 5 in the complete hand, thus 3, 3, 7, 4, 9 beats 3, 3, 7, 4, 8.
When a player has none of the formal hands listed above, the winner of the pot in question will be the player with the highest pocket card, making the best 5-card hand. For example, A, J, 8, 5, 3 beats A, 10, 9, 6, 4 as the kicker " J" beats the lesser hand's kicker " 10".