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What are Poker Hands?

Poker Hands: Elevate by Learning What Beats What

Whether you are playing in a land-based or Online Casino, it’s not only about the rules for Poker. Learning the basics will help you to start your journey in poker games. However, if you want to advance in your gameplay and become a genuinely skilled Poker player, you’ll need to dive deeper than the surface. It takes months, if not years, to truly absorb all there is to learn.

Playing Poker or Online Poker requires attention to detail and a resilient attention span compared to other card games. You need to constantly observe the behaviour of Poker players, get a feeling of how to react to each move, and know what Poker hand rankings are and the value of each card dealt hand after hand. Only when these actions become second nature will you feel confident to consider challenging the Pros in tournaments.

Let’s dive into poker hands, shall we?

Learning all about Poker Hands

The 10 Poker Hand Rankings

To win a game in Poker, you need to create the best possible five-card Poker Hand. Check out the list below, starting from highest to lowest winning poker hands.

  1. Royal Flush: The best possible poker hand in Texas Hold’em is the combination of Ace (A), King (K), Queen (Q), Jack (J), and Ten (10), all of the same suit.
  2. Straight Flush: Five cards in a sequence, all the same suit
    E.g. 5-6-7-8-9
  3. Four of a Kind: Combination of three of a kind and a pair in the same hand
    E.g. 3-3-3-3-K
  4. Full House: Three of a kind with a pair.
    E.g. J-J-J-K-K
  5. Flush: Any five cards of the same suit, in any order
    E.g. 2-4-5-9-K
  6. Straight: Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit
    E.g. A-2-3-4-5
  7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank
    E.g. 7-7-7-4-5
  8. Two Pair: Two different pairs
    E.g. 9-9-K-K-4
  9. One Pair: Two cards of the same rank
    E.g. 10-10-3-Q-K
  10. High Card: Five unmatched cards; the highest-value card plays
    The highest-ranked card in your hand, with an ace being the highest and two being the lowest
    E.g. A-24-8-Q

When starting as an online poker player, always having a poker cheat sheet by your side is beneficial. Having all possible Poker Hand Rankings nearby lets you build your skills at your own pace and prevents anxiety or even panic.

Excellent Poker Hand to Start with – The top 10

Each player gets two hole cards at the start of each betting round. These initial hole cards are commonly pocket cards or the starting hand. Understanding what is considered a good or bad starting hand will help you decide whether you already want to fold before seeing the flop during the pre-flop.

If you are not familiar with the basic rules of poker yet, read up on our Texas Hold’em guide.

Let’s walk you through some promising two-card combinations you can hope for in your games.

Pocket Aces (A-A)

An Ace is the most valuable single card from the deck of cards. Having two of these is the most substantial starting hand in poker. Players should always play this hand initially and then reassess the situation based on the flop and the other player’s attitudes and actions.

This hand has a probability of once every 221 hands on average. However, it’s worth remembering that their likelihood of winning goes down as more players enter the pot, so the fewer opponents you’re up against, the better.

Poker is a game with great history, is spread all over the world and it doesn’t seem like its progress will stop any time soon. These factors have also contributed to the existence of slang within Poker.

Take these 10 great starting poker hands as an example. Pocket Aces are also known as Pocket Rockets, Bullets, American Airlines, Snake Eyes, Batteries, Needles, and Two Pips.

Pocket Kings (K-K)

Two Kings build a solid poker hand. However, Kings will only win against a hand with one Ace just over two-thirds of the time. That means you should probably try to get the table to fold pre-flop.

Pocket Kings are also known as Cowboys, King Kong, Kevin Keegan, Krispy Kreme, Ace Magnets, and Elvis Presley.

Pocket Queens (Q-Q)

Should your starting hand involve Pocket Queens, you are safe in the knowledge that only eight overcards are left in the deck, or even fewer if your opponent has an Ace, a King, or Ace-King. You should go in strong at the pre-flop stage, raising or re-raising from any position almost all of the time.

Pocket Queens is also known as Ladies.

Suited Ace-King (A-K)

This hand looks excellent but won’t win as much as you think. Half of the time, except for Pocket Aces and Pocket Kings, this combination will win against all Pocket Pairs. However, remember, unless you create a winning combination with the flop, you’re left with just ace-high.

Suited Ace-King is also known as Big Slick, Santa Barbara, Anna Kournikova, Big Ugly, King Arthur, Korean Airlines, Mike Haven, and Walking Back To Houston.

Pocket Jacks (J-J)

This poker starting hand is a 50/50 favourite against any unpaired hand. It will also beat all lower pairs. If the pot is unraised, it’s an excellent hand to go in with.

Pocket Jacks are also known as Fishhooks, Brothers, Jaybirds, Kid Dy-No-Mite, The Two Jakes, and Suckers.

Pocket Tens (10-10)

Another reasonably solid starting hand is Pocket Tens, as you could be lucky to hit a third ten on the flop. However, only if you’re fortunate enough to make your move late and your opponents have raised and bet. Therefore, you’re probably better off folding this hand.

Pocket Tens are also known as Dimes, TNT, Dynamite, and Tension.

Suited Ace-Queen (A-Q)

Even though this starting hand isn’t nearly as solid as ace-king suited, it is still a decent hand. If the flop goes well, you have a chance at creating a straight or a flush, helping you rise in the ranks.

Suited Ace-Queen is also known as Big Chick, Little Slick, Mrs Click, Antony & Cleopatra, Mrs Slick, and Rocket Queen.

Ace-King of different suits (A-K)

An offsuit Ace-King will win at least 40% of the time against any hand other than Pocket Aces or Pocket Kings. You should consider calling this position pre-flop because there’s a chance of forming a high pair.

Ace-King of different suits is also known as Big Slick, Santa Barbara, Anna Kournikova, Big Ugly, King Arthur, Korean Airlines, Mike Haven, and Walking Back To Houston.

Suited Ace-Jack (A-J)

Like a suited Ace-King or Ace-Queen, this starting hand can lead to a Royal Flush. However, remember, any Ace-King or Ace-Queen combination will have you beat.

Suited Ace-Jack is also known as Ajax, Armani Jeans, Hijack, Jackass, Apple Jacks, and Blackjack.

Suited King-Queen (K-Q)

Last but not least, getting dealt a suited King-Queen is a reasonably strong hand to go into the flop with. If other players are going in strong and betting high, it’s probably better to fold.

Suited King-Queen is also known as Marriage.

What is the best winning five-card Poker Hand?

If you want to develop a keen sense of what a strong poker hand looks like, it’s essential also to know what a weak possible holding looks like. And since we are talking about Poker, even a weak hand could win you the pot. The likelihood, though, is decreasingly low.

Weak Poker Hands

Recognizing weak hands is as important as knowing strong ones to develop a strong poker strategy. Even a weak hand can win, but the chances are significantly lower.

1. High Card

  • Definition: This hand relies solely on the highest card in your five-card set.
  • Example:
    • Your Hand: Queen of Hearts, 10 of Spades
    • Board Cards: 7 of Clubs, 6 of Clubs, 2 of Hearts, 9 of Diamonds, 5 of Clubs
    • Best Hand: Queen of Hearts
  • Note: The weakest poker hand lacks any combination or pattern.

2. One Pair

  • Definition: A hand with two cards of the same value.
  • Key Consideration: A higher-valued pair (e.g., Pair of Aces) is stronger than a lower-valued pair (e.g., Pair of Fives).
  • Example:
    • Strong Pair: Pair of Aces
    • Weak Pair: Pair of Fives
  • Note: Common and can win many pots, but assess the pair’s value realistically.

3. Two Pair

  • Definition: A hand with two different pairs.
  • Similarity to One Pair: Evaluate the value of both pairs.
  • Example:
    • Strong Two Pair: Pair of Aces and Pair of Kings
    • Weak Two Pair: Lower valued pairs
  • Note: Can lead to wins but is easily beaten by stronger hands.

Good Poker Hands

Now that you know what to watch out for in the community cards, let’s look at the good poker hands.

  1. You’ll need to score at least a Three of a Kind to beat the last one of the less strong hands. You are much more likely to win the pot than any previously mentioned combinations, especially if you have a higher valued hand or the highest suit.
  2. Only a Straight beats it if you want to go about this combination. A Straight is another excellent example of a good winning hand and consists of five consecutive cards where at least one of them has a different suit.

You should consider the following two Straights when looking at this combination.

  • Wheel: a Straight that runs from Ace to Five
  • Broadway Straight: a Straight that runs from 10 to Ace (the strongest straight)
  1. If you create five cards of the same suit, you’ll have a Flush independently of their sequence. A Flush beats a Straight and therefore represents a good hand. Only a Full House beats a Flush.
  2. When it comes to Full Houses, it’s essential to focus on a high Three of a Kind, as it will determine which hand wins. So, for example, a Kings Full House would beat a Fives Full House.

Solid Poker Hands

Now, let’s dive into the rare possible holdings in Poker. If you manage to hold them, you can be almost sure you’ll be holding the winning poker hand of the round.

  1. As mentioned before, Full Houses are a pretty reliable way to win. Only a Four of a Kind (also Quads) is the minimum requirement to beat a Full House.
  2. & 3. Holding four cards of the same rank is hard to beat. However, to up your odds of winning the round is having either a Straight Flush or a Royal Flush.

Same Suit Straight Flush

The regular Straight Flush is on top of the list of Poker hand rankings and consists of five consecutive cards, all the same suit.

Straight Flush Example: 9-8-7-6-5 of Spades

On that note, it’s essential to know that the ranking of a Straight Flush is determined by the highest straight card, not the suit. Should more than one player hold a Straight Flush, the winner will be the player with the highest straight. For example, a 10-high Straight Flush beats a 9-high Straight Flush, independently of the four suits.

It’s easy to say the Straight Flush is the best possible combination in poker. However, a variant of the Straight Flush is called the Royal Flush.

Same Suit Royal Flush

The ultimate winning hand in Poker is the Royal Flush. It’s a variant of the Straight Flush and consists of an Ace-high Straight Flush (same suit), which can’t be beaten.

There are four ways to construct a Royal Flush

  • A-K-Q-J-10 of Spades
  • A-K-Q-J-10 of Hearts
  • A-K-Q-J-10 of Clubs
  • A-K-Q-J-10 of Diamonds

Again, the suits aren’t relevant here. The hand rank determines the winner, should more than one player hold this scarce combination. In Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker games, more than one player can’t have a Royal Flush simultaneously. Therefore, this hand ranking can never split the pot.

What’s Next?

After analysing all possible Poker Hand Rankings, we should now look into the probabilities of making them. The key to learning how to play Poker is that basic rules and hands are essential to evaluate your odds. Therefore, look at our guide on Poker Odds.

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