Poker Hand Rankings
When you start playing poker, one of the first things you need to learn is which poker hands are the best.
Without understanding the poker hand rankings, you won’t know whether your starting hand is strong or weak, and you may end up losing money as a result. There are ten different poker hands in total, starting with the highest-ranking Royal Flush to the single high card. Take a look at our guide to poker hand rankings and which starting hands are the strongest to get to grips with the game, or check out our poker probability cheat sheet.
Poker Hands Order (Highest to Lowest)
1. Royal Flush
A, K, Q, J, 10, all of the same suit.
2. Straight Flush
Five cards in a sequence, all of the same suit.
3. Four of a Kind
All four cards of the same rank.
4. Full House
Three of a kind with a pair.
Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a sequence.
Five cards in a sequence, but not of the same suit.
7. Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank.
8. Two Pair
Two different pairs.
9. One Pair
Two cards of the same rank.
10. High Card
When you’ve not made any of the hands above, the highest card plays.
Best Starting Hands in Poker
Knowing which poker hands are the best to start with is crucial to a strong poker strategy. Without knowing the different poker rankings, you won’t know where you stand at the start of a game, which can be detrimental considering you definitely don’t want to play every hand you’re dealt. To find out more about the basics of playing poker, visit our poker school.
These two starting hands are the best in Texas Hold’em, but it’s not often you’ll get dealt aces or kings straight away. However, it’s important to bear in mind that aces or kings don’t play well against multiple opponents – especially when playing kings – as you’ll likely lose to anyone starting with a single ace.
QQ, JJ, AK
Those with queens and jacks generally have the best starting hand in Hold’em. AK (suited or unsuited) dominates most other hands and offers great potential when it isn’t a made hand, while queens and jacks may struggle against a player holding aces or kings.
TT, AK, AQ, AJ, KQ
Starting hands like AQ and AK are very strong against weaker ace combinations. It’s recommended to raise preflop with any of these hands, although you have to be careful as their strength depends on the other players and your position in the game.
Any hand featuring a pair of aces with a card from ten to king is the best hand in Omaha, or PLO (Pot-Limit Omaha) poker. You should look to raise and reraise with these hands and go all-in before the flop if possible.
High pairs (TT-KK) with sequential cards do particularly well in heads-up. However, it’s expected that you’ll find at least one player with aces in Omaha poker, so you shouldn’t do too much before the flop with one of these hands.
Middle pairs with sequential cards are particularly strong as they pull value from coordinated draws, or made hands on the flop. You should limp in with these hands or call a raise if there are other potential callers.
These hands are strong but are easily dominated before the flop – especially by high pairs. It’s important to play these cards carefully, and consider calling a raise in late position.
Explanation of Poker Hands
The Royal Flush is the best starting hand in poker as it’s unbeatable. Also known as Five of a Kind, the Royal Flush contains five cards of one rank, placing it above a Straight Flush. Five of a Kind is only possible when using at least one wild card, as there are only four cards of each rank in the deck.
A Straight Flush ranks below Five of a Kind and above Four of a Kind. An ace can rank either high or low under high rules, but can’t rank both high and low simultaneously. Under deuce-to-seven rules, an ace always ranks high. Under ace-to-six low rules, an ace always ranks low. Every Straight Flush is ranked by its highest-ranking card.
Four of a Kind
Four of a Kind, also known as Quads, is a hand that contains four cards of one rank and one card of another (named the kicker). It ranks below a Straight Flush and above a Full House. Each Four of a Kind is ranked by the rank of its quadruplet, and then by the rank of its kicker. Four of a Kinds that differ by suit alone are of equal rank.
A Full House – otherwise known as a Full Boat, a Boat or Full Hand – is a hand that contains three cards of one rank and two cards of another. Each is ranked first by the rank of its triplet and then by the rank of its pair. A Full House ranks below Four of a Kind and above a Flush.
A Flush contains five cards of all of the same suit, but not of sequential rank. It ranks below a Full House and above a Straight. Each Flush is ranked first by its highest-ranking card, then by its second highest-ranking card, and so on. Flush hands that differ by suit alone are of equal rank.
A Straight hand contains five cards of sequential rank, but not all of the same suit. It ranks below a Flush and above Three of a Kind. Each Straight is ranked by its highest-ranking card, while straight hands that differ by suit alone are of equal rank. An ace-high Straight is known as a Broadway Straight, while a five-high Straight is called a Baby Straight.
Three of a Kind
Also known as Trips or a Set, Three of a Kind contains three cards of one rank and two other ranks (named the kickers). It ranks below a Straight and above a Two Pair. Each Three of a Kind is ranked by its triplet and then by its highest-ranking kicker.
Two Pair is a hand that contains two cards of one rank, two cards of another, and one card of a third rank (the kicker). It sits below Three of a Kind and above One Pair. Each Two Pair is ranked by its highest-ranking pair, then by its lowest-ranking pair. Two Pair hands that differ by suit alone rank equally.
One Pair, also known as a Pair, contains two cards of one rank and three cards of three other ranks (the kickers). It ranks below Two Pair and above High Card. Each One Pair is ranked by its pair first, then by its highest-ranking kicker.
Also known as No Pair, High Cards is a hand that doesn’t fall into any other category. It ranks below One Pair. Each High Card is ranked by its highest card, and under deuce-to-seven low rules, a seven-five-high hand is the best possible. Under ace-to-five low rules, Straights and Flushes are not possible, making them High Card hands instead.
What is the highest card suit in poker?
Suit values in poker are Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades, with Spades being the highest value. However, it’s worth noting that most poker games don’t rank suits and no standard ranking exists for all card games, so you’ll need to clarify the rules of your game with the dealer before playing.
What is the best poker hand?
The Royal Flush is the best hand in poker, and it consists of an ace, king, queen and jack, joined by a ten – all of which are in the same suit.
What are poker hands?
Poker hands refer to sets of five playing cards, according to the rules of the game. Each hand has a rank that is compared against the other hands to decide which wins
What is a flush in poker?
A flush is a hand that contains five cards of all the same suit, but not all of sequential rank. It ranks below a full house and above a straight.
What is the highest card in poker?
The cards are ranked from high to low: ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and ace. Ace can be high or low, but it’s usually high.
What’s the worst starting hand in Texas Hold’em?
While the best starting hand in Hold’em is two aces, the lowest hand is a Trey and Deuce of different suits. Holding 2 and 7 off-suit is generally considered the worst hand, being the lowest two cards that don’t make a straight. Even when suited or part of a pair they make a very low hand.
What makes a strong poker strategy?
One of the most important factors of a strong poker strategy is understanding your starting hand, otherwise you won’t know whether to play aggressively or play it safe. You should also play for the long term where possible – meaning, you should consider how your starting hand will evolve as the game progresses and act accordingly.
What is the objective when playing poker?
The main goal when playing poker is to win money. Bear in mind that there are no prizes for the player who wins the most wagers or those who are the most ambitious when playing – it’s winner takes all. That means that it’s crucial to understand poker hand rankings to know when to fold and when to play.
How are starting hands dealt in online poker?
Poker hands are generated using a computer algorithm, which ensures that the cards dealt are random – and are often more likely to be random than hand shuffled and dealt cards. In Texas Hold’em poker, each player is dealt two cards face down before the flop; in Omaha poker, each player is dealt four cards face down before the flop.
What does ‘dealer’s choice’ mean?
‘Dealer’s choice’ refers to a game in which the dealer designates the variant to be played and sets the stakes. This often depends on the number of players and will outline any special variants or unusual rules outside of the usual components of a poker game.