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There exists a poker hand rankings system in all variations of poker. To help in understanding this system, we have created a cheat sheet with hands ordered highest to lowest:
The Texas Holdem poker hand rankings are one of the first things you should learn as a Texas Holdem poker player. After all, if you don’t know what beats what, how can you expect to win a hand? Once you know what hands are strong and what hands are weak, you’re better able to make correct strategy decisions while playing real money poker.
We’ve posted the definitive hand rankings for Texas Hold’em at the top of the page, but if you want a more in-depth explanation of how Texas Holdem poker hand rankings work, check out the rest of the article and watch the video below.
In poker, each possible hand you can make is ranked by its rarity, with the rarer hands being more valuable and therefore ranked higher than more common hands. However, it’s important to note that not all games use the same hand ranking system, as the rules between variants can differ greatly. The above poker hand rankings chart applies to the following games.
Other games, such as Short Deck, Razz, and Badugi, do not use traditional poker hand rankings and instead have their own unique ranking system.
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One of the things you’ll notice when checking out the poker hand rankings is that the higher-ranked hands are much harder to make. The probability of making these hands is very low, which is what makes them so valuable.
While it’s not necessarily important to know that you only get a royal flush one in every 650,000 times or so, it’s good to understand just how rare these hands are as it puts your opponent’s possible range into perspective. If you do want to get a better understanding of the important poker math, make sure you check out our poker odds calculator, where you can explore the equities of different hands on the flop, turn, and river.
A mistake beginners make is always assuming that their opponent has a much stronger hand than them. Even if they hold a strong hand, they convince themselves that their opponent must have a better one if they’re continuing to bet. However, being able to look at how rare these hands are should help you put into perspective how infrequently your opponent will have these hands, allowing you to play with more freedom.
If you’re a bit of a math aficionado and want to know how it’s calculated, here’s how it’s done.
We start by working out the number of possible five-card hands. This can be found with the equation 5⁵², which equals 2,598,960.
Then, we divide the possible number of hand combinations by that number. For example, there are four possible ways to make a royal flush, so the calculation is 4/2,598,960, which can be simplified to 1 in 649,739.
WINNING POKER HANDS: WHAT ARE THE BEST HANDS?
Let’s delve into the realm of winning poker hands and explore the optimal combinations that can lead to victory. In order to enhance your understanding, we’ll present you with specific examples involving both hole cards and community cards, showcasing the precise composition of your most favorable five-card hand. By offering this practical context, you’ll gain a clearer grasp of the rankings and how they materialize in real gameplay situations.
To make things easier, we’ve split the possible hand rankings into three groups – weak hands, strong hands, and the strongest poker hands. Hands that fall into the weak hands category are the most common hands you’ll make in poker, and while they may win you the pot some of the time, you’ll find that they’re regularly beaten by stronger ones.
Hands that fall into the strong hands category are a lot harder to make, and therefore will win you the pot a lot more often. However, these hands are not infallible, as there are still a number of hands that can beat them. This brings us to the strongest poker hands – these hands are incredibly hard to make, and you are almost certain to win the pot if you make one of these hands.
By offering this practical context, you’ll gain a clearer grasp of the poker hand rankings and how they materialize in real gameplay situations.
Let’s start by looking at the most common hands you’ll have at the poker table – weak hands.
A poker hand with no cards of the same rank, your highest-ranked card is the most important.
Two cards of the same rank.
Two sets of two different cards of the same rank.
You won’t make these hands very often, but when you do, you can expect to win the pot most of the time.
Three cards of the same rank.
Five consecutive cards in order but of different suits.
Any five cards of the same suit.
It’s extremely unlikely you will ever lose a pot holding one of these hands; such is their strength.
Four cards of the same rank.
Any five cards in order, all of the same suit. A Straight Flush beats all other poker hands except a Royal Flush.
The cards Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten all of the same suit. A Royal Flush beats all other poker hand combinations.
On occasion, you are going to find yourself in a situation where the best hand at the table is being shared by more than one player. In these instances, in order to break the tie and declare a winner, the extra cards that are not directly contributing to the best hand come into play.
These cards are known as ‘Kickers.’ When two or more players have the exact same hand rank, the player with the highest kicker takes the pot. Let’s look at an example:
The cards are dealt and these players hold:
Two Pair, Kings and 10s with a 9 Kicker.
Two Pair, Kings and 10s with an Ace Kicker.
In the rare case where both players have identical five cards hands and share kickers, they split the pot equally. As well as deciding who wins the pot, kickers are an important part of a poker hand that should be considered when choosing the hands you play. If you’ve played poker already, you’ll probably be familiar with this situation:
You’re in the Big Blind, and you catch top pair on the flop with a weak kicker. A player bets, and you call the flop with your top pair. The player bets both the turn and river, and you call again (even when you really don’t want to). When you turn your cards over, you find to your dismay, that your opponent has a bigger kicker and wins the pot.
You’ve just been out-kicked! This happens all the time in the poker world, and the key is to let it happen to your opponents – not you!
STARTING HANDS for TEXAS HOLD’EM
So, how do you avoid getting out-kicked and losing pots with weak hands? Well, the best way to do that is to only play strong hands. The stronger your hands are, the less likely they will be out-kicked, meaning you’ll win more pots than your opponents.
If you’re new to the game and want to know the very best starting hands available in Texas Hold’em, you’re in luck! We’ve posted the top 20 starting hands in Texas Hold’em for you to look over. Playing any of these hands will be sure to give you a great chance of winning.
Choosing the correct hands to start betting with preflop is very important and can get a beginner player winning poker hands right off the hop. We are going to break down the top 20 Texas Hold’em starting hands so that you can start playing preflop with confidence:
This is the best starting hand that a player could be dealt. It has the highest odds of winning against any other poker hand.
Commonly called Cowboys, pocket kings are second in line behind the aces as the top starting hand. Go into your preflop situation confident, but be wary if you see an ace on the flop.
At the number 3 spot comes the lovely queens. Like the two pairs before it, pocket queens are an excellent starting hand and should be played in almost all situations.
Despite some players consistently complaining about being dealt pocket jacks, this is still a very good hand. Aggressive play preflop can reap some nice rewards if done correctly.
Number 5 on our list is the first non-paired hand we have seen – ace-king suited. Despite going into preflop behind any pocket pair, this hand gives you a ton of top pair potential, flush/straight draw potential, and puts you ahead of all the other unpaired hands going into the flop.
Pocket tens comes in at number 6 due to its potential to collect a lot of value with the proper preflop raising strategy. Be careful not to go too deep in a situation where your opponents are heavily raising and 3-betting, as chances are you are going into the flop as the underdog.
While this hand lacks the flush draw potential that Ace-King suited has, it is still a very strong hand with great potential to land a top pair on the flop.
Ace-Queen suited brings a lot of possibilities and a lot of potential to hit some big pairs, a nut flush, and a straight draw. Preflop, look to play aggressively with this hand, and be sure to pay attention and evaluate your opponent’s response.
Much like pocket tens, pocket nines lack the flash that other high pairs have but should still be played aggressively preflop. This pair comes with great odds and can be deadly if you happen to catch a nine on the flop.
Ace-Jack suited shares similar qualities with Ace-Queen suited in terms of playability. This hand has a good chance of hitting some dominating pairs and gives you both a flush and a straight draw, but be cautious of the deadly Ace-King.
Poker’s original power couple, this hand is valuable because of how well it flops. It’s common to make strong flush draws, strong straight draws, and good top pairs. However, if you do flop top pair, you’re vulnerable to someone having AK or AQ, so be careful.
The lowest of the broadway Ax hands, ATs still has a decent amount of value because of its straight potential, which makes it much stronger than A9s. You can flop nut flush draws and top pair top kicker with a ten-high flop, but be wary on ace-high boards.
Slightly further down the rankings, thanks to its lack of suitedness, AQo is still a very strong hand. Whenever you flop a pair, it’s likely to be the best hand, and you can still make the broadway straight.
Pocket pairs suffer from an exponential decline the smaller they get, which holds true for pocket eights vs. pocket nines. The smaller the pair, the more likely it is that overcards will flop, and the higher chance of being caught set under set. However, 88 is still a strong hand and should be played as such.
While slightly weaker than KQs, KJs still flops a lot of strong pairs, strong draws, and strong flush draws. You would only need to be wary on king-high boards when a lot of money starts to go in, as it’s likely someone has a king with a higher kicker.
Slightly weaker still is KTs, but it remains a strong hand and a respectable 16th in the rankings. It can still make broadway and king-high straights, as well as strong flush draws. However, similarly to KJs, you should be wary if there’s a lot of action on a king-high board.
Any two cards that are suited and connected always feel strong when you play them, and that’s certainly the case for QJs. There are lots of great straight and flush draws you can pick up on the flop, but the only downside is the top pairs it makes aren’t the strongest and are often beaten by other common hands people play.
Losing its suited value really hurts AJo, as it’s just not as strong of a hand without it. While you’ll likely be in good shape on jack-high flops, it doesn’t perform as well on ace-high boards, particularly if you play this hand aggressively preflop.
Another hand that’s hurt by a lack of suited value is KQo. Not being able to flop a flush draw is a big reason why this hand is 19th, but it’s still great at flopping pairs, and there are still plenty of straight draws to give you equity.
The last hand in our rankings is QTs, a hand that’s starting to look a lot weaker than some of the hands in our top ten. While there’s the potential for broadway straights and good flush draws, its pairs are often dominated by strong hands, which can make it a tough hand to play.
While these hands are generally considered the 20 best preflop hands, there are some factors that we will discuss in the next sections that will influence both the value of these hands and the decisions you make.
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The most important aspect to consider when choosing your starting hands is the value of position. In Texas Hold’em, having position is a huge advantage, so you want to be as close to the Button as possible (the Button is the last person to act after the flop). The closer you are to the button, the more hands you can profitably play. Conversely, the further away you are from the button, the more hands you must fold preflop.
When you are in positions like the SB (Small Blind) and BB (Big Blind), your starting poker hands EV drops significantly in Texas Hold’em. This is due to the fact that you often end up betting or calling in these positions with hands that are much weaker than you would normally play.
In addition, people behind you get to see your actions, so they are in a better position to perform tricky moves or steal the pot if necessary. This is why many Texas Hold’em experts say that if you observe a game, that money tends to flow toward the direction of the Button.
This means that you want to tighten up your starting hand selection early in the game and drop questionable hands like [KT], [QT], [JT], [T9] – and possibly even [KJ] or [QJ] – in early position. These hands will lose you money in the long run in Hold’em if you play them too frequently – a mistake that many beginners make. In late position, however, you can relax your starting hand selection to include these hands. You can also begin playing pocket pairs a bit more liberally in late position, as it’s less likely someone will have a higher pocket pair.
Another concept that players should understand with regards to their poker hands, is that each hand has both; an absolute value and a relative value. Absolute value is the value of the hand on its own, whereas relative value refers to the value of a hand with respect to the community cards and your opponent’s range.
A♥ + A♠
10♣ + 9♣ + 5♥ + 6♣ + J♠
The absolute value of this pocket pair is quite high. A pair of aces is a good hand, but it’s vulnerable to a lot of other hands. Given the cards that are on the board, the relative value of Player 1’s hand is significantly lower, and an opponent could win the pot with a combination of different poker hands, such as two pair, a straight, a set, or a flush. Therefore, it’s best if Player A acts with caution on this river; otherwise, they could be at risk of losing a big pot.
Staying conscious of values and playing hands based on their relative value is a vital part of being a winning poker player.
The poker hand rankings are vital information that every player must know before starting their poker journey. It’s the perfect place to start for any beginner, as the poker hand rankings will form the foundation of the rest of your poker knowledge. From here, we’d recommend checking out our article on the rules of Texas Hold’em so you can build on the knowledge you’ve learned here today.
Jackpot! You’ve flopped a winning hand! This article has surely added some extra chips to your stack. Tune in for more valuable insights and pro-level strategies!
Looks like you’ve been dealt a bad beat. We’ll shuffle the deck and try again.
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There are ten different poker ranks, 196 different starting hands, and a total of 2,598,960 different five-card hands a player can make.
While they’re both three of a kind, there is a difference between the hand. A set is when you make three of a kind with two cards in your hand and one on the board, and trips is when you make three of a kind with one card in your hand and two on the board.
Only four poker hands can beat a flush. Those hands are a full house, four-of-a-kind, straight flush, and royal flush.
Half of the available poker hands can beat a straight. Those hands are a flush, full house, four-of-a-kind, straight flush, and royal flush.
In the majority of poker games, all suits are the same value. However, there are some games that assign value to the suits; in those games, the order from strongest to weakest is spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs.
A flush is a poker hand where all five cards are the same suit but are not in sequential order. For example, Ah9hJh3h5h is a flush.
While this is a rare occurrence, it can happen in poker! If this happens, then it works in the same way as any split pot does; any player who is left in the hand by the river gets an equal share of the pot.
The best hands to play in poker are big & middling pairs, big Ax hands, broadway hands, and suited connectors.
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