The Basics of Poker: Ranking and Overview of Poker Hands

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Poker can be a high-pressure (and extremely complicated) game for the uninitiated, with plenty of different hands and many rules to keep in mind. Perhaps one of the beginner’s most tricky elements of the game is to recall the combinations of cards that make up winning hands, as well as how these hands rank against each other.

This is the first basic poker skill; you can immediately recall these and concentrate on strengthening certain aspects of your play in real time without interruption once you have mastered hand rankings.

The first fundamental fact to understand is that there are five cards in the poker hands. Therefore, even if you’re playing a 7-card player, only the best 5 of those cards can play–which means you should always focus on making the best 5-card hand you can.

It’s also critical to start thinking about what hands your opponents might have’ made’ using the dealer’s community cards, as this will give you an idea of your own hand’s strength.

Read on to learn in detail about the various poker hands, their rankings being broken down:

That’s right. High Card-What’s that all about?

If you haven’t made any of the hands below, it’s the top card that counts. Therefore, the owner of the largest card wins if no one at the table has made a hand. All cards must be of different ranks, not consecutive, and must contain at least two different suits (within a set of 5 cards) to be used.

Statistically, the greater the number of players left in a hand and the larger the size of the table (usually 6, 8 or 9 seats), the less likely it will be that the high card is good enough. If you’re up against a single river rival, maybe in a blind or blind case, and the hand has been tested every time, this is one of the only situations where you could bet the high card potentially. Of default–this is the worst poker hand in the ratings, but watch it carefully.

Ace High or King High on the river (the last community card to be dealt), especially if you are in position and the opponent checked, might either shut down the hand without showing your cards (denying information to the table) or perhaps get a call from a weaker high card to gain a little extra value. This is also the easiest hand for you to fold against almost any bet if the situation is reversed as your opponent might be tempted to bet / call or raise even with a weak Pair.

A Duo-What’s that and how are you doing it?

One of the most common hands in poker is the simple but effective set. That is when you have the same rank of two cards, and the higher the set, the better your ranking. How you play a pair depends on the strength of the two cards, your position on the table, and whether you held it before or after the flop (where the first three community cards are handled).

Before the flop (known as pre-flop) the odds of having what is known as a’ pocket pair’ are 0.045 percent or, to make it more comprehensible, a whopping 221-1 against any particular pair such as the best possible poker starting hand–Ace+ Ace (known as bullets). Yet for any of the pairs you can make, it falls to 16-1. Betting pairs, especially high-value ones, can be extremely important before the next cards are dealt as the chances of a player hitting either pair on the flop itself drop to 32.43 percent or about 3-1.

When you simply call the blinds pre-flop with say, a 10’s pair, without increasing, you risk letting the low, big blind and late table places like the button see the free / small money group cards and thus increase the chance that a hand they might have folded to a bet (such as Ace-Six) would catch a higher card to match their hole cards and win your current pair with one of them.

You’re going to be far more likely out of place to just call someone else’s boost or throw away a soft pair like nine or below without ever making a bet at all. One of the most common mistakes beginner players make when betting a pocket pair through the flop, turn and river (the three’ streets’ of Texas Holdem’s poker). The more community cards available, and the more players in the action, the greater the chance that their hand will be better than yours.

Two Pairs-Who Wins Having Two Pairs When 2 Players?

The Two Pair is sitting in the rankings just behind Three-of – a-Kind: this is when your hand contains two separate pairs of different ranks, for example 10-10-9-9-X or J-J-9-9-X. The hand with the highest pair wins in the case of two players having two pairs. This would be the hand with the Jacks Pair in the example above, because Jacks rank higher than Tens. This is a relatively easy hand to win in most forms of poker. It’s also a hand that takes players into deep water in Holdem, the most popular form of poker.

Next, if you keep a Pocket Pair and there’s another Pair on the flop, you need to consider seriously the risk that your opponent might have hit’ Three-of – a-Kind’ if he’s still playing, or worse, a’ Full House.’ Third, and this happens all the time, someone else has a much better Two Pair than you do, mainly because the adversary did not start a hand of bad cards.

Starting the game with solid pairs or quality connected hands like Ace-King helps you avoid running into that situation later in your hand. On a board with the obvious possibility of a straight or draw, you will have to be very sure that your’ read’ on your opponent’s hand will be worse to bet strongly on Two Pair.

Three-of – a-kind–Why is it twin-pairing?

Sometimes, as it is affectionately known, you are lucky enough to have your Pair turned into a Three-of – a-Class, a’ Set’ or’ Trips.’ It is when you have three cards of the same rank (e.g. 7-7 in your hand and another 7 on the table, with two unrelated cards), and it is a relatively strong hand based on the game. When starting out, most players assume that because this is a hand where the interest is given by 3x cards–against the 4x cards in Two.

Pair, it’s ranked lower. Creating Trips in a hand is statistically more difficult and as a result it ranks higher than Two Set.

If you start with a Pocket Pair and make your trips or’ Ready’ on the flop, the most relaxed way to play Trips is. If there is no clear straight or draw, you should feel comfortable to bet or call with this stick. However, the better the deck, and the less likely it seems that somebody has beaten you or a draw to win you from the public cards, the more inclined you are to talk of gambling marginally to gain value from the hand or let someone gamble and then call or re-raise.

Straight–Does the same suit have to be?

A Straight is where you get five cards in sequence (e.g. Q-J-10-9-8) but from a mix of suits. Often it is a very powerful hand, but it is worth less than a flush. You’re going to make a Straight on the flop is extremely unlikely. When you do, more advanced techniques such as slow play or inducing become extremely important to maximize the money you earn from what is most likely to be the winning hand to gain maximum value.

Where the Straight will cause problems for players, as with many games, depends on what pre-flop cards they hold. If the neighborhood cards are 8,9,10 in front of you and you keep Queen + Jack, you will be very sure that an opponent will not’ draw’ you out. When you played really loose on the other hand and made the Straight with 6,7 –players with over cards may well remain in the betting to try to make their hand on the turn or river.

If you have a draw on the flop (1 missed card out of the necessary 5) otherwise your table position, number of opponents in play and their provocation all factor into your decisions. Although a strong hand, the Straight, like’ Three-of – a-Kind,’ can be hard to play to maximum effect until you know the game’s fundamentals.

When doing the Straight–always be mindful of any Flush draws on the board and try betting opponents off the side and taking the entire pot if they come back violently to you. If you’ve got the right starting deck, this is one of the best poker hands to play with minimal skills.

Fun Fact: The Straight is the only game in which the Ace is both the lowest card and the highest in a hand. Ten-Jack-Queen-King-Ace is referred to as’ Broadway ‘ whileAce-2-3-4 and 5 are referred to as’ The Wheel.’

Flush–What happens when there’s one for both players?

You need five cards of the same suit to make a Flush, even though they don’t have to be in consecutive order, such as Q-10-7-3-2 (All one suit, like Clubs). When you hit a Flush when holding one on your own, the winner will be the player with the highest card. For example, if you had SpadesK-9-7-4-2 and your opponent had Q-J-7-4-2, you’d win the hand because the King would be the highest card.

It’s difficult for two players to keep a Flush with a different suit due to the five cards in a hand and the team chips. With that in mind, a flush is not just a good hand, but it’s usually easy to know if you’re in front of an opponent or not.

Often keeping the Ace High Flush in any suit is called the’ Nuts’ or the’ Nut Flush.’ If the deck is not matched–there are no cards of equal value–so generally you won’t be afraid of anyone with this hand unless there’s a straight flush on the table that’s very clear. Even in those cases, the opponent’s chances of actually having the cards to defeat you are slim.

Nonetheless, danger can occur if you keep a Flush with less than the Ace, particularly if there are four group cards with the same suit instead of three. In this case, the opponent only needs to hold one suit card higher than yours, even if you have two of the same suit in your hand (as the optimal count of 5 cards).

This is yet another instance where playing low-value cards before the flop will cause you problems, even if they are appropriate and linked. One of the best poker hands might be a draw, but it’s not unbeatable.

Full House –How are you going to rate full houses?

A Full House is when the deck is made up of three cards of the same rank, plus a pair of cards of another rank–6-6-6-4-4 or 10-10-2-2 for example. The’ Pack’ part of the Full House is essential here, but the highest ranked pair wins instead when two players have an evenly ranked’ Three-of – a-Kind.’

As with the Straight and Flush, the Full House allows you to read the neighborhood cards right for possible problems while being a giant of a deck. You’ll need one of three possibilities for you to reach a full house;

You carry a pair and the screen shows an array. Let’s presume you’re 77 and 3-3-9-3-10 is the table. (This would be referred to as’ 7’s over 3’s)

You keep two different cards, Pair on the board and Pair on the board as well. You now hold 7-10 (the famous hand of Daniel Negreanu) and the board is 3-3-7-7-10.

You hit the board with a pair and another pair and a card matching the current set. You are holding 77 again this time, and the board’s community cards are 3-3-9-7-10.

The first type is an issue because there is an obvious four-of – a-kind opportunity for your opponents as well as a blatant full house for anyone who went into the hand with a pair–low pairs in your hand will make you very nervous now.

While Four-of – a-Kind is much less likely with the second format, and if you hold the 10-7 you’ll feel pretty comfortable–only a 10-player will have a bigger full house. It will ruin the gambling stone dead if your rival is bad in either case and you won’t get much payout despite winning the game.

The third choice is the one where the biggest payouts usually take place. Hitting a low set (the 3-3 plus a 3 in your hand) will seem highly unlikely to your opponent as that would be a very loose starting hand needed to hit it. It’s also a spot where you can pick loose players who are going over betting hands likeA-3 with which they shouldn’t have been in the pot and are now going to cause them problems as they have made trips and think they’re strong.

Four-Of – A-Class –Is that the rank or suit?

A Four-of – a-Kind is made up of four cards, all of the same rank (e.g. 4-4-4-4-X) NOT in the same suit. If there are two players with Four-of-a-Kinds of equal ranking, the player with the highest ‘kicker’ (i.e. the ‘spare’ or ‘side’ card) wins.

For example, if one player has 6-6-6-6-3 and another has 4-4-4-4-3, then the player with the Sixes wins, because six is the higher. The player with the higher’ kicker’ (i.e. the’ spare’ or’ hand’ card) wins in the case of two equal ranking Four-of-a-Kinds players.

Even though it’s ultra-rare for two separate Four-of – a-Kind hands to arise, if it does, you’ll probably go all in and ruin everything if you’re on the wrong side.

Realistically, when you carry Four-of – a-Kind, you generally don’t care about the strength of your hand, it produces so clear boards for competitors that the challenge is to get someone to gamble on you.

With a pair in your pocket and the same pair on the table, it’s your best chance, as it gives your adversary three extra neighborhood cards to hit a strong hand worth raising with–ideally a full house that they’re unlikely to throw away, helping you to grab their whole deck.

It’s straightforward with a set on the board and a matching card in your hand–your opponent either has or makes a separate pair for a full house and bets it hard or they don’t do anything until the river. You bet, and in that last instance they probably fold.

Be cautious about bet sizing here, a small’ value bet’ can provoke a gamble from your adversary or a call from someone carrying Ace as a kicker to the group card package, which is extra chips for you when you play.

It can be difficult when there are four equivalent cards on the table, as only the highest’ other’ card can support you against the opponent, which people can manipulate because they believe you’re worse than an Ace, essentially when this happens it’s a giant chicken game.

Straight Flush–Is it the same suit?

In the poker hand rankings list, the Straight Flush ranks second, beaten only by a Royal Flush. The Straight Flush differs from the Royal Flush because, however, the cards are not all the royal or’ broadway’ type, they are still in order. Therefore, a straight flush is five cards in the right order, all in the same suit–10-9-8-7-6 (All Hearts, for example). In principle, this is a very strong hand, but one of the best overall poker hands, it’s not perfect by any means.

The Straight Flush is influenced by exactly the same problem as the harder simple Line. When you get a Straight Flush’s bottom end, say 3-4 Hearts in your pocket and 5-6-7 Hearts on the table–what if your opponent is holding 8-9? (Answer–they’re going to win big).

Therefore, as with the clear Flush, if there are four public cards that could make up a Straight Flush, there is an increased likelihood that your adversary with one card at the end will come over you.

Players are agonizing over such cases. Do not allow it to phase you as a beginner–you hardly ever fold this hand, and the likelihood of these scenarios where you are beaten is small. Work on staying calm and wanting to let the enemy gamble as much as possible before bidding, driving him all in if he doesn’t show up and raking in the chips already.

Royal Flush–Is it possible to beat?

No – The Royal Flush is the best poker hand imaginable and is unsurpassed. Each hand is made up of royal / broadway cards; Ace, King, Queen and Jack, together with a 10, all of which must be the same suit. When it occurs with odds of nearly 650,000–1 against, it is a statistical anomaly. It’s a hand I’ve never brought myself into a real money match in more than a million poker hands as a player.

While the Royal Flush is unbeatable, often it’s also very hard to get paid off because the enemies get the board very frightening. If the team cards hold a 10-Jack-Queen of Hearts and you bet heavily pre-flop, other players will be afraid that the Ace-King of Hearts is in your hand.

If you’re playing late-position semi-connectorslike A-Q or K-J, the hand can come as a surprise to an unwanted opponent and you’re going to make money. Hopefully, the other player(s) will make Full Houses or a Straight Flush below your Royal Flush and will be tempted to risk everything. We might also assume that if you bet in a way that reflects this hand, you’re bluffing.

The advice is to slow down playing this hand for everything it’s worth and also test the rules in your casino with the dealer at the end of the hand if you play live rather than online. Many casinos are offering a progressive or flat poker jackpot reward that pays off when a player hits a Royal Flush–that’s rare!


You should have a decent understanding of the different hand lists, best poker hands and some beginner advice on the circumstances in which you may find yourself with them after reading through this post.

There is no replacement for training to learn this as an automatic process of learning. Thankfully, many of the best poker sites have freeroll and low entry fee tournaments (as low as 1c) that will allow you to play with real players in real time and hone one piece at a time with little risk.

Combine the highest hand of cards and win poker match by joining a live casino. You can also choose and play a variety of games like online slot games and even online sports betting at the best casino in Thailand.

Sherry Crawford

The author Sherry Crawford