High Poker Hand Ranking
There are 10 different high hand rankings in Poker. These are detailed below with number 1 being the highest ranking hand and number 10 being the lowest ranking hand. You'll never not know the winning poker hand again!
1. Royal flush
This is the highest poker hand. It consists of ace, king, queen, jack and ten, all in the same suit. As all suits are equal, all royal flushes are equal.
2. Straight flush
Five cards of the same suit in sequence - such as J-10-9-8-7. In the event that two players both hold straight flushes, the one containing the higher top card is ranked higher.
An ace can be counted as low or high, so 5-4-3-2-A is a straight flush, but its top card is the five, not the ace, so it is the lowest type of straight flush. The cards cannot "turn the corner": eg: K-A-2-3-4 is not valid.
3. Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank - such as four queens. The fifth card can be anything. This combination is sometimes known as "quads".
In the event that two players both hold four of a kind, the one with the higher set of four cards is ranked higher.
4. Full house
This consists of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank - for example three sevens and two tens (colloquially known as "sevens full" or more specifically "sevens on tens"). When comparing full houses, the rank of the three cards determines which is higher.
For example J-J-J-5-5 beats 9-9-9-A-A. If the threes of a kind were equal, the rank of the pairs would decide.
Five cards of the same suit. When comparing two flushes, the highest card determines which is ranked higher. If the highest cards are equal then the second highest card is compared; if those are equal too, then the third highest card, and so on.
For example K-J-9-3-2 beats K-J-7-6-5 because the highest and second highest cards are the same, but with the 3rd highest card the nine beats the seven.
Five cards of mixed suits in sequence - for example Q-J-10-9-8. When comparing two straights, the one with the higher ranking top card is better.
Ace can count as high or low in a straight, with A-K-Q-J-10 being the highest possible straight and A-2-3-4-5 being the lowest possible straight. The cards cannot "turn the corner" eg: K-A-2-3-4 is not valid.
7. Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank plus two other cards. This combination is also known as Triplets or Trips or a Set. When comparing two threes of a kind the hand in which the three equal cards are of higher rank is better.
So for example 5-5-5-3-2 beats 4-4-4-K-Q. If the three of a kind are of the equal rank then you have to compare the higher of the two remaining cards in each hand, and if those are also equal then the lower card is compared.
8. Two pairs
A pair is two cards of equal rank. In a hand with two pairs, the two pairs are of different ranks (otherwise you would have four of a kind), and there is an odd card to make the hand up to five cards.
When comparing hands with two pairs, the hand with the higher highest pair wins, irrespective of the rank of the other cards - so J-J-2-2-4 beats 10-10-9-9-8 because the jacks beat the tens. If the higher pairs are equal, the lower pairs are compared, so that for example 8-8-6-6-3 beats 8-8-5-5-K.
Finally, if both pairs are the same, the odd cards are compared, so Q-Q-5-5-8 beats Q-Q-5-5-4.
A hand with two cards of equal rank and three other cards which do not match these or each other.
When comparing two such hands, the hand with the higher pair is better - so for example 6-6-4-3-2 beats 5-5-A-K-Q. If the pairs are equal, compare the highest ranking odd cards from each hand; if these are equal compare the second highest odd card, and if these are equal too compare the lowest odd cards.
So J-J-A-9-3 beats J-J-A-8-7 because the 9 beats the 8.
10. High card
Five cards which do not form any of the combinations listed above. When comparing two such hands, the one with the better highest card wins. If the highest cards are equal the second cards are compared; if they are also equal the third cards are compared, and so on. So A-J-9-5-3 beats A-10-9-6-4 because the jack beats the ten.
Study these poker hand rankings well and you will find that you get to know them off by heart as you play more and more. Whether you're a hotshot poker player or a high stakes casino player it's important that you know the underlying rules behind the game you are playing.