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Poker Hand Rankings Explained

Poker Hand Rankings Explained

Winning players know that poker is a game of building big pots with big hands. The strongest hand at showdown will scoop the pot. In other words, some five card poker hands are better than others. Most poker variants have the objective of making the best five card hand.

Poker hands are ranked in order starting with the best hand and working down to the worst:

Royal Flush

The best hand in poker. It consists of five cards all the same suit from the ten to ace. (A, K, Q, J, T). Unlike other card games, the ranking of suits is not important, meaning a heart royal flush is no better than a spade royal flush so on and so forth.

Straight Flush

Is five cards in a row, with matching suits. The highest card is used to compare what flush is higher. In the event that two people have straight flushes then the player with the highest flush card scoops the pot.

Four of a Kind

Is all four of one card and the fifth card is irrelevant. The ranking of the cards matter, so Four Jacks would beat Four Fives etc.

Full House

Is a hand that consists of Three of one number and a pair of another. You would call it XXX’s full of YY’s. The Trips always come first. The three of a kind is used to compare what is a higher full house.


Is any five cards that are all the same suit. The highest card in the suit is used to compare if one flush ranks better than the other flush.


Is a poker hand consisting of five cards in a run, or in a row. If two players have a straight, the player who has the straight with the highest ranking scoops the pot. So JT on a board of 987 would beat 65 even though both players have a straight.

Three of a Kind

Also known as Trips or Set, is when you have three of one number or face card. It’s called a Set when you have a pocket pair and hit the same card on the flop.

Two Pair

Is two sets of two matching cards. The larger of the two pair is used first when comparing hands. If they are the same match the second pairs, then the highest single card.

One Pair

Is two cards the same value. If two players have the same pairs they compare high cards until one player has a winning hand.

High Card

Is the highest single card in a players hand. In the case of ties, compare hands starting with both the highest cards and working their way down till one beats the other.

For all standard 52-card card games such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud, these rules will apply. Some card games such as Three card poker has different hand rankings because the odds of making some hands are much harder.

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