From Royal Flush to High Card: Understanding the Hierarchy of Poker Hands

From Royal Flush to High Card: Understanding the Hierarchy of Poker Hands –

From Royal Flush to High Card: Understanding the Hierarchy of Poker Hands

By Denise Hughes, Editor at

Whether you are a seasoned poker player or just starting to explore the world of cards, understanding the hierarchy of poker hands is essential for success at the table. From the prestigious Royal Flush to the lowliest High Card, each hand carries its own significance and determining the strength of your hand can greatly influence your strategies and decisions. In this article, we will take a closer look at the different poker hands, their rankings, and what they mean in the game.

Poker Hand Rankings

Poker hands are ranked based on their probability of occurring. The highest-ranking hand is the Royal Flush, and the chances of getting this hand are incredibly slim. A Royal Flush consists of the Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten of the same suit. It is truly the holy grail of poker hands and is unbeatable.

Next in line is the Straight Flush, which is any five cards of the same suit in consecutive order. For example, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 of hearts. The strength of the Straight Flush is determined by the highest card in the hand. If two players have Straight Flushes, the one with the highest card wins.

The Four of a Kind comes after the Straight Flush and is composed of four cards of the same rank, such as four Kings or four Aces. If two players have Four of a Kind, the one with the highest set of four cards wins. The fifth card, known as the kicker, comes into play if both players have the same four-card rank.

In the event that no player has a Four of a Kind, the Full House takes the stage. A Full House consists of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank. For example, three Queens and two Nines. The strength of the Full House is determined by the rank of the three-card set first, followed by the rank of the pair. If two players have Full Houses with the same three-card set, the one with the higher-ranking pair wins.

Following the Full House is the Flush, which is any five cards of the same suit. The highest card in the hand determines its strength. Should two players have Flushes, the one with the highest card wins. If both players have the same highest card, the second-highest card comes into play, and so on, until a winner is determined.

A Straight is next in line, consisting of five cards in consecutive order but not necessarily of the same suit. For example, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of mixed suits. As with the Straight Flush, the highest card determines the strength of the Straight. In the case of a tie, the pot is split among all players with the same Straight.

The Three of a Kind follows the Straight and is formed by three cards of the same rank, with two additional unrelated cards. If two players have Three of a Kind, the one with the higher-ranking set of three cards wins. Again, the kickers come into play if both players have the same set.

Next up is the Two Pair, consisting of two sets of cards of the same rank, such as two Eights and two Queens. If two players have Two Pair, the highest-ranking pair wins. If both players have the same highest-ranking pair, the lower-ranking pair comes into play. In the event that both pairs are the same, the fifth card, called the kicker, breaks the tie.

The One Pair is the second weakest hand and is formed by two cards of the same rank, accompanied by three unrelated cards. When comparing One Pair hands, the highest-ranked pair wins. If players have the same pair, the highest kicker determines the winner. If the kickers are also the same, the pot is divided among all players with the same One Pair hand.

The weakest, but yet still playable hand, is the High Card. This hand has five unrelated cards, with the highest card in the hand determining its strength. Should multiple players have High Card hands, the pot is split evenly among them.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How can I remember the poker hand rankings?

A: One popular method is to use mnemonic devices. For example, “Royal Flush: Really Fancy Hand Jack Takes.” Creating your own phrases can help you memorize the order of hand rankings quickly.

Q: Can a Straight wrap around? For instance, Ace, Two, Three, Four, Five?

A: No, in most poker variations, a Straight cannot wrap around. The Ace can be used as either the highest card in a Broadway Straight (10, J, Q, K, A) or as the lowest card in a Five-high Straight (A, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Q: Are all suits equal in poker?

A: Yes, all suits carry the same value in determining hand rankings. However, suits might come into play in certain situations, such as when determining who gets the dealer button or splitting a pot if the best five-card hand consists of all community cards.

Q: Is it possible for two players to have identical hands?

A: Yes, it is not uncommon for players to have the same hand. In such cases, the pot is divided equally among them.

Q: How important is it to understand poker hand rankings?

A: Understanding hand rankings is crucial to making informed decisions and developing effective strategies in poker. It allows players to assess the strength of their own hand as well as make educated guesses about their opponents’ hands.


Mastering the hierarchy of poker hands is an essential step towards becoming a skilled poker player. Remembering the order of hand rankings, understanding their strengths, and knowing how to utilize them in different situations can significantly improve your gameplay. Take the time to familiarize yourself with these hand rankings, and you’ll be on your way to outshining your opponents and winning big at the poker table.


#PokerHands #HandRankings #PokerBasics #CasinoGames

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