Learning how to play poker is made up of many steps, but one of the first you’ll need to take, before you play your first hand, is to understand how to rank poker hands. Knowing the poker hand order puts you in the game mentally and allows you to understand what you need to beat, or what you need to make before the flop, turn, or river hits. Our guide today will rank poker hands from best to worst and also highlight how to rank poker hands in different variants like Omaha, Stud, Razz, and more.
1. How to Determine a Winning Poker Hand
(The following hand ranking applies to )
We mentioned it above, but we’ll say it again, learning how to rank poker hands is paramount because it dictates if your pile of chips goes to one player or another. When there are more than two players at a table involved in a pot, the best five-card hand determines who wins the entire thing. A tie will be decided by which player has the best secondary three-card hand (kicker). We rank poker hands using the following scale:
- Royal flush
- Straight flush
- Full house
- Three of a kind
- Two pair
- One pair
- High card
Looking for an easy way to remember it? Just listen to Grateful Dead’s ”Ripple” while you study. “For lifeless heads and dead eyes” = high cards, “and the everyday plights” = suit doesn’t matter = high card can defeat lower high card. “Troubles and trials” = a boost when you can add the number of suits in poker (two) + (troubles and trials) = weakest hand possible (straight) to your high card and beat it. “Dreams absolutely untrue” = they can’t hurt you once you know how to rank poker hands = can’t be beaten by a higher dream (higher card). “It will shine up you so” = a shiny new poker bankroll = hearing that Grateful Dead album really helped your form and you just hit a big beat…riiiiiipple.”
2. Why Knowing How to Rank Poker Hands Saves You Money
You can waste a lot of money in poker if you don’t know how to rank hands properly. For example, a pair of aces is a very strong starting hand but if someone has a higher pair in their hand, you will lose to them unless either three of a kind fall on the board or you have an ace, any eight and those cards aren’t used to make a straight.casinos in miami fl
Knowing this saves you money because you won’t get sucked into a betting war based on the false belief that you have the best hand. Another common mistake among novices is overplaying triplets. While it’s true that three of a kind is somewhere between a moderate and strong hand, depending on whether it’s the stone cold nuts (no other set/trips/quads/etc on the board) or not, it’s still behind a royal flush, straight flush, or quads – all of which start off as just hole card(s).
3. How to Read Poker Hand Rankings
In most forms of poker, all five of your cards must be from the same hand (provided you’re playing ‘low’ variations like Razz or Rumble of the Bronx where that isn’t the case) but sometimes, under certain circumstances, you can use ‘combined’ cards from the board to complete your hand.
This is most commonly seen in ‘draw’ games like California Lowball and Texas Hold’em Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Eight or Better, but it can happen in Showdown Poker variants under specific rules situations like dropped cards, misunderstood all-in bets and, rarely, in real world games, a gaffed deal. The official rule is that whichever hand was in front when the last bet was made is the winning hand.
As far as naming them is concerned, the person with the highest spade flush would state ‘Quads’ followed by ‘The spade flip’ (if that specific hand represented the deciding factor in the pot.) The next highest spade flush would say ‘Quads’ followed by ‘The heart flip.’ Etc, etc.
The lowest hand possible in standard poker hand rankings would be a high card with no value related to suits and that would be named simply as ‘High Card.’ The next lowest hand would be a pair with the caller stating ‘One Pair’ followed by a card (any card) from that pair. If if there are connected hands, like two pairs, the higher of the pairs is stated first with the lower pair added as a suffix. So ‘Two Pairs – Aces and Tens’ would be read as ‘Aces and Tens, tens only.’
A full house is simple enough to explain and explain itself as it’s pretty much what you’d think. Just state the triplet first and the pair second. So ‘Threes Full of Queens’ meaning three threes and two queens with one queen used for the pair and one queen part of three of a kind.
4. How to Rank Poker Hands in No-Limit Texas Hold’em
Texas Hold’em is the most popular poker variant played both live and online, so understanding how to rank hands in Texas Hold’em is essential.
Single-Hand Poker Games
In single-hand poker games like Triple Draw or Razz, you’re only using the cards in front of you to make the best five-card hand. In the example below, player 1 has the best poker hand with a pair of kings, even though player 2 has two aces. This is because without the community cards in play, player 1’s hand looks like pocket threes and player two’s hand reads as two independent aces.
Community Card Poker Games Like Texas Hold'em & Omaha
Things change ever so slightly when you throw in shared community cards as this allows you to use both of your hole cards, along with three community cards to make your best five-card hand. This is where a fool and his money become "very close friends" because these are the types of poker games you see amateurs run way way outlay chasing the impossible.
The hand above looks like player 2 has the winner with a turn straight of Ace-9, but player 1 has something even better -- a turn flush. As their highest cards match, the flush prevails over the straight, every time.gambling poker sites
In Omaha you must use two holes cards in your hand to comprise your five card hand. For example, in the picture above Player 1 actually has a royal flush despite having only one of the required clubs in his hand. He used the  and the [Q] from the board to fill in the gaps. In order for Players 2, 3, or 4 to beat him, they would need to have a better flush, a straight or better, or one of them could have four-of-a-kind on board since the board showing 22yy. The highest hand possible here would be a royal flush in the other color, like spades, which hasn’t been played.
Drop Cards (DROP)
There is a rare rule in home games called "drop three cards" (DROP), which requires players to immediately replace the card/s they received on the flop. Generally, only the turn and river are betting rounds so replacing one of the three flopped cards alters the strategy dramatically; especially if it’s one of your hole cards.
If you replace your card without signaling or letting the other players know what you're doing then the new card becomes part of your hand. However, if you inform everyone of your intentions before replacing the card, the new card is considered a 'drop card' and any player may use it in making their hand.
Let’s look at an example of each scenario.
No Word, New Card is Yours Alone
In the hand above player 1 replaces his hole card with the . Since he did not signal which card he was replacing, or the new card, it is safely assumed that the board card he replaced it with is not in his hand.
Because the other players have no knowledge of which card belonged to player one they cannot use the replacement card for their own hands. For example, player 2 can’t use the  to make a straight because that  technically came from player one’s hand.
In this situation player 1 has a pair of fives and no other player can make a straight so he has the best hand. If player two were to make a flush neither player one or two have a ten so the highest flush is player twos. If player 3 checks away, player two has the winning hand.
Word, New Card is Up for Grabs
Using the same layout as above, the only difference is player 1 announces which card he is replacing and which card he is taking. In this case the other players are now able to use that card as if it were a regular community card.
In this situation player 1 has a pair of fives and no other player can make a straight so he has the best hand. Because the card he took was the , which allowed player 2 to make a straight, the straighter hand takes the pot.
The only card player one can use from his hand is the  as that was the only card he touched during that deal. Since neither player one or two has a ten, the highest flush is player twos. If player three checked, player two has the winning hand.
No Drop Rule or Player Violates Drop Rule
At some casinos they offer a drop rule, but do not offer thegrab rule. What this means is that all players are able to replace one hole card after the flop, but there are no grabbed cards. This means that whatever card they replace their own is not in play and cannot be used by any player.
In this scenario, if all players replaced a card lower than the , there would be no straight and player 1 would win with his pair of fives. But, if player 3 replaced their , then player 2 wins with their straight. The card that started the round in player three’s hand is the only ten on the board, so player twos straight is composed of the  →  → player three’s original [J] → the [Q] from the flop → the [K] from player one’s hand.
Another thing to remember about the no-grab rule is that players are technically replacing a card from the flop, so whichever card s/he chose is the only one that is not in play. Let’s say they all replaced the [Q], there would be no lady alive and player 1’s pair of fives would win.
Anytime a player touches their cards, or a card from the flop, during the betting round they are in violation of this rule and all the way in Texas Hold’em etiquette. This is an instant confess, meaning the infraction was noticed by another player. It’s possible the strangle heard the player break the rule, or saw the player’s tell, but for whatever reason didn’t speak up before the final betting round.
When a player accidentally breaks a rule, and that breaking is noticed by another player, the infracting player must show his or her card at any point during the hand. It’s possible the offending player’s card asserts dominance and they win the pot anyway, but their motivation for speaking up have been met.
In this scenario, let’s say the [Q] is the highest card flopped, and all the other cards are relatively low. Assuming none of the cards are suited, there would be no current alive and the best two hands would be a pair of fives and a pair of nines. Let’s say player three strangled, meaning they needed to see one card from each player before the final betting round began.
Player one showed the [\S], player two folded showing the , player three showed the [\C], player four folded showing the  and the [S] was the winning hand. Since player two was violated, they were allowed to see their hand and since they had the second best hand, they win the pot. Player three, the dealer, lost the straddle and gets nothing. Player one takes the pot without having to show his or her hand.
In this example, assuming no grab or straddle rule, and no straddle, player one would win with the pair of sevens. Player two would have a low pair with no kicker and can only hide from a seven with the  so the highest the pro would go is a pair of nines. Since there are no other nines, player one’s seven-high flush takes the pot.
5. How to Rank Poker Hands in Three-Card Poker
Three Card Poke, or Three Card Poker, is a popular casino game often found in dedicated pits, on cruise ships, and at some online poker rooms. Ranking hands works the same as in other forms of poker but since you only have three cards, things can get tricky when trying to mathematically figure out which hand beat which.
To help you visualize the relationship between hands we created the chart below. Start by finding the winning hand on the left hand side and follow its corresponding line to find the losing hand at the top. For example, if you want to know what beats a straight, find the straight on the left (second from the top) and follow the line up to see that a straight is defeated by a flush, a straight flush or three of a kind.
6. How to Rank Poker Hands in Seven-Card Stud Poker
(See above for example image)
While Seven Card Stud is not as popular as it once was it’s still a staple in many poker rooms around the world and online, and as such knowing how to rank hands in this game is important for anyone looking to improve their poker skills. It’s worth noting that in Seven Card Stud there are times when a player can use more than one hand to give them the best five-card poker hand ranking.
Let’s look at an example:
In the hand above Player 1 has the best poker hand with a pair of Kings, even though Player 2 also has a pair of Kings. This is because Player 1’s highest up-card is an Ace compared to Player 2’s Queen. Even though Player 2 has the second pair, the second highest pair at that, they have no real kicker besides the Queen.
Poker hands from this point on are ranked the same way they always are with one caveat: each player attempts to make the best five-card hand using only their two hole cards. In the example above no player has a made hand stronger than a pair of Kings, but Player 1 could have a straight (8-J-AS-KS-Q or AS-KS-Q-7H-6C) whereas Player 2’s only possibility for a made hand is the pair of Kings (KS-KQ-QT-JD-8C).
7. How to Rank Poker Hands in Razz Poker
(See above for example image)
Lowball poker games are becoming increasingly more popular both in live games, online and in circuit events and lowball mix games. Lowball variants are played as single-hand games (like Five Card Draw) and as shootout and tournament-style games. Lowball poker rules differ slightly from No-Limit Hold’em in that low is good, and straights and flushes don’t exist.
In Lowball variants you want the lowest, or fastest, hand possible. The fastest hand possible is a wheel:
Ideally you want a hand with a wheel and a baby, or two babys (an Ace and a 2). In games where you have to use all of your cards, like Kaluki, you want the lowest possible hand. The lowest possible hand in Kaluki is the 2-3-4-5-7, known as a "Dead Man's Hand."
Since you're using all five cards, unlike Razz where you use your best two cards, the 2-3-4-5-7 is the actual hand. It’s important to note that straight and flushes do not exist in Lowball poker and actually play against you. In fact, in most forms of Lowball a straight actually wraps around. Meaning a "straight" goes A-2-3-4-5, with the Ace being both the lowest and highest card in the straight.
Ace-King is a cop, Ace-10 is a fish, Ace-9 is a truck, Ace-8 is a bus, etc. There are websites online with charts detailing slang poker terms for ranks, but needless to say having any of those rank towards the bottom of a live player’s range. In the example above Player 1 has the lowest Razz hand with a pair of deuces. Unlike standard poker hand rankings a pair is actually a strong hand in Razz, as it's unlikely anyone can beat it with only two cards showing.
The second strongest hand belongs to Player 3 with a king-high. Despite having a baby (2), Player 2's hand is blocked by Player 1, and with his second card being a four, has a middle connecter (5) as his best hope at a Razz hand shorter than a king. Player 2 does not have a baby to pair the two-club with, nor can they use the ten to make a wheel. They also can’t use the four to make a wheel because a wheel in Razz is an Ace-based wheel and the highest card here is a king.
8. How to Rank Poker Hands in Badugi
Badugi is one of the more complex lowball games to score a hand in because you’re not only concerned with having the lowest hand possible but also dealing with the fact that your hand is composed of four separate cards, devoid of flushes, straights, wraps or pairs. To make matters worse a hand in Badugi is composed entirely of non-related cards. Meaning you don’t “complete” a hand until you start using lower and lower individual cards to lower your overall score.
For example, in the hand above Player 1 has the worst Badugi hand with a four of each suite. Although Player 2 only holds a singular four, Player 1’s hand is blocked by themself. The best two cards in Player 1’s hand are the two’s meaning their second best Badugi hand is a six-high. Player two, on the other hand, can use four of each suite to achieve the lowest possible Badugi hand.
Although Player two is blocked from using the 3,5 of hearts, they can use the three and five of the other suits to achieve a high card badugi hand of five-high but composed entirely of singletons. Player three is blocked from using the four and nine of hearts and cannot use the six to complete a badugi hand so their best chance at winning this pot is a eight-high badugi hand consisting of three singletons and a pair.
The biggest thing to remember in Badugi is suites matter, then At the end of the day, though, suites matter more than face and street values. A singular ace is no better than a singular two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten.
9. How to Rank Poker Hands in Pineapple Poker
Pineapple Poker is a fun variation of Texas Hold’em that’s gaining popularity among recreational players due to its fast action and increased skill factor. During the pre-flop betting round in Pineapple Poker all of the rules and hand rankings are exactly the same as No-Limit Texas Hold’em. Where it differs is after the flop has run and all players remaining in the hand have bet on the flop.best virginia online casinos
In standard Texas Hold’em each player ends up making the best five-card hand using any combination of their two hole cards and the five shared cards on the board. After the flop players discard one hole card and the best poker hand is determined.
In the example above all players are using the [Q], the , and the shared ,  and  for their best five-card hand. The only difference between Hold’em and Pineapple is that when they discarded, in Pineapple they discard two hole cards instead of one. This means the best five-card hand is still determined by using any TWO of the three cards in a player's hand at the start of the round, and the five shared cards on the board.
So, in the hand above Player 1 has the best Pineapple hand with a pair of Queens. Although Player 2 also has a pair of queens, Player one’s highest community card is the [J] compared to Player 2's . This means Player one’s best five-card hand is the [J]-[Q]-[Q]--  whereas Player two’s is the -[Q]-[Q]--. Player three has a pair of nines, blocked by Player one’s queen, and cannot use the turned pair of fives to make a better hand than two pair.
10. How to Rank Poker Hands in 2-7 Triple Draw
Unlike most poker variants, flushes and straights are not good in 2-7 and wrapping straights are possible. Aces are both the highest and lowest card in the deck with 7 being right in the middle. Your goal in 2-7 is to end with, or as close to, a 7-5-4-3-2 hand as possible. Having a 2-3-4-5-7 will cost you two points for every player at the table. Having an 8-9-J-Q-K will cost you four points for every player at the table.
Aces are both the highest and lowest card in the deck with 7 being right in the middle. Your goal in 2-7 is to end with, or as close to, a 7-5-4-3-2 hand as possible. Having a 2-3-4-5-7 will cost you two points for every player at the table. Having an 8-9-J-Q-K will cost you four points for every player at the table.
Suited hands are blocked by unsuited hands. Let’s assume you hold the 4 and 5 of clubs. On the draw you pick up the Jack of clubs and on the second draw you pick up the 2 of clubs. That means your hand is composed of a 2-4-5-J-7 (12 total count including the points for the flushed middle suits). Had your hand been composed of a 2-4-5-J-spades, etc., you would have had a much preferred 2-point hand of 9 total counting points.
Getting a 2-7 hand actually profits you points. If a proclaimed 2-7 hand has a flush, it actually costs them two points per player at the table. Getting a straight in 2-7 is disastrous as a wrapped straight in this game wraps around from an Ace to a 7, or a 7 to an Ace. An A-2-3-4-5 or a 7-6-5-4-3 will cost you six points per player at the table.
In the hand above all players went for the kill on third street. Sometimes all players at the table will fold their hands on the first round of draws allowing others to go get cards in an attempt to win. Since 2-7 is a lowball game and each player only uses their best 5 cards, players are willing to take extreme risks in an attempt to win the hand without a fight on the second or third draw.
Obviously Player 1 is going for a 3-count hand with their first two cards. The  on the draw helps with that, although they still need a 2 or a 5 to win. Player 2 also needs a 5 or a 2 to win, although they have the added benefit of picking up field cards should they miss completely. Field cards are wild cards drawn from the deck and used to help any player at the table not just yourself.
Field cards work differently depending on the game. In Kaluki, for example, field cards can only be used by the player who requested the draw. In 2-7 Triple Draw any player can use field cards in their hand provided it helps them obtain the closest possible hand to 7-5-4-3-2.
With that said Player 2 could ask for a 5 or a 2, and if they missed everything and were forced to tap the ground for a field card, they could use that 2 or 5 to complete their hand rather than having to give it to another player who may need it more. In this example Player 2 picked up a 6 on the second draw, which is blocked by both the 5 and the 2 they’re searching for.
Player 2 could ask for a 5 or a 2, and if they missed everything and were forced to tap the ground for a field card, they could use that 2 or 5 to complete their hand rather than having to give it to another player who may need it more. In this example Player 2 picked up a 6 on the second draw, which is blocked by both the 5 and the 2 they’re searching for.
Player three asked for a 4 and got it, putting them ahead of both players, although still searching for that coveted 7-5 hand. According to our chart above, Player 3 has a 7-6-4-3-A (-4) count, Player 2 has a 7-6-4-3-2 (0) count and Player 1 is still sitting at 7-5-4-3-A (+2).
Since all players folded on 3rd street Player 1 gets to reopen the hand and request upto three new cards. In traditional 2-7 Triple Draw a player can only exchange 1 or 2 cards during the draw rounds, never all 3 at once. By peeking at their hand and getting no help they are now allowed to try and get the exact hand they need to win. Since a 3 count hand is too many points to pass up, they ask for a 2 and a 5.
Although Player 2 also needs a 2 or a 5 for their hand to win, they are guaranteed to have the lowest hand between the two thanks to their  and . Player three, on the other hand, still holds the lead assuming they also hit one of their requests. Out of the two, however, Player 2 is guaranteed to finish with a lower count than Player 1 assuming they both hit one of their cards.
In this situation the only way Player 1 can profit off this hand is if they miraculously pick up both a 2 and a 5. This has a slim chance considering they only have one gap card (the 5), but it’s their only option if they want to win. Player 2’s only concern is hoping that they pick up a 2, as picking up a fifth card guarantees them a push at best. Player three, who currently has the best hand, needs to worry about nothing and can enjoy the fact they’re going to force their opponents to pay them points.
11. How to Rank Poker Hands in Kansas City Lowball
Aces are both high and low in this version of Lowball so a Royal Flush in Kansas City Lowball goes A-2-3-4-5 or 7-6-5-4-A. Wrapped Straights are possible and a high card in KCL is a 6. Suited hands are desirable but not to the extent of other Lowball games like Razz or Badugi.
Getting a pair is something players are looking forward to because it blocks other players from using any individual cards they may be holding. In the example above Player 1 has the worst Kansas City Lowball hand with a six-high composed entirely of unconnected cards. Since they have a pair of sixes, Players two and three are blocked from using the  for their best five-card hand.
Player two has the second worst hand with a five-high composed of three unique suits. Although they cannot use the turned pair of fives, they can and will use the  and  to possibly make a better hand. Their second best five-card hand (or kicker) is probably a three-high composed of the , , and [K] of hearts and the two babys.
Player three has the best KCL hand with a five-high composed entirely of singletons. Not only do Player two and Player four (not shown) be blocked from using the  for their best five-card hand, Player three can use any two of their individual cards as their kicker. Player three’s second best five-card hand is probably a four-high composed of the , , and [J] of spades and the [K] of clubs.best slots in vegas 2023
12. How to Rank Poker Hands in Poker Staw
Staw poker is similar to other forms of Lowball poker in that Aces are both high and low, straights wrap around and a high card is a 6. Where it differs is the fact there is no flop, turn or river. Each player starts with two hole cards and moves all-in immediately. Players, clockwise from the button, either call, raise or fold. Once everyone has acted, the hands are exposed starting with the small blind. Every player who called or raised pays off to the player with the best hand.
Since everyone only shows one card, the hand above would be called The Deuce (aka “Deucies”) and resolved accordingly. Player 1 shows the , Player 2 folds, Player 3 shows the [J] and is blocked by both Player 4 ([Ace]) and Player 5 (). Player 4 shows the , Player 5 matches with their  and , [J], and [Q] of hearts. Both players reveal their second cards, Player 4 has a 3-count 6-4-2-Ace off-suit, whereas Player 5 has a 7-count 8-6-2-3 of hearts. Since both players used their best two cards, the "runoff" (comparing the third, fourth, and fifth cards) is irrelevant and Player 5, who put in the extra call, loses two big blinds to Player 4.
13. How to Rank Poker Hands in Short Deck Hold’em
Short Deck Hold’em is rising in popularity due to its intense action and adjustments to standard No-Limit Hold’em strategy. Short deck refers to games played on tables without the 52-card deck. Instead, all games are played on a 36-card deck because the 5’s, 4’s and 3’s have been removed.
Since suits don’t matter in poker and flushes are no longer possible, the highest possible hand remains a Royal Flush. The only difference now is that wrapped straights are not possible because the shortened deck starts with the 6 and ends with the Ace.
Despite the missing numbers, all of the standard poker hand rankings remain intact. In the example above Player 1 has the best Short Deck Hold’em hand with a straight from 8 to J. Although Player two also has a straight, it is blocked by the stripped deck and only goes from 9 to K, making it the second-best six-card hand. Player three has a pair of jacks, blocked by both straights, and Player 4 has an unused pair of Aces.
Without the lower cards, it’s much more difficult to make a wrapped straight. Where a normal 52-card deck has 10 ways to make a straight (A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10, 2-K, 2-Q, 2-J, 2-10, 3-K, 3-Q), a 36-card deck only has five ways to make a straight (A-K, A-Q, A-J, 2-K, 2-J, 3-K, 3-Q, 3-J, 3-10 are all gone).
14. How to Rank Poker Hands in Irish Poker
Like Kansas City Lowball, Aces are both high and low in this poker variation so a Royal Flush in Irish Poker goes A-2-3-4-5 or 7-6-5-4-A. Wrapped straights are possible and a high card in Irish Poker is a 6. Irish poker is unique because it plays strictly like No-Limit Hold’em in regards to hands.
That means Player 1 in the example above is holding the nut flush with [AH]-[AD] and the three of clubs on the board. Player two has a middle two pair with [8X]-[8X]-[2X]-[2X]-[6X]. Player three has the second best two pair with [KS]-[KS]-[4X]-[4X]-[5X] and Player four has the worst two pair with [JS]-[JS]-[3X]-[[3X]-[7X] is also blocked by the  from the board).
Irish Poker is typically played as a 2-7 style game meaning each player only uses their best two cards, and any two cards can win the pot. In this hand, despite Player Four having the highest-ranked hand in standard poker hand rankings, they finish last because they are playing a game that only sees the best two cards and the board is painting multiple flushes and bigger two pairs. Player one wins with the nut flush, Player two finishes second with the middle two pair and Player three comes in third place with the second best two pair.
15. How to Rank Poker Hands in Crazy Pineapple
Crazy Pineapple follows the same rules as standard Texas Hold’em except each player is dealt three hole cards instead of two. Immediately after being dealt every player throws one card face down known as the "borrowed card" or "pineapple". This card cannot be looked at for the rest of the hand. After the borrowed card round players must discard one additional card so that they are playing the game with only two cards, just like Hold’em.
In Crazy Pineapple your goal is to win the pot with the best five-card hand using any combination of your two hole cards and the shared cards on the board. At the showdown only the best five poker hands are available. Pairs and high cards are valuable in this version of poker.
In the example above Player 1 has the worst Crazy Pineapple hand with a pair of fives. Although they cannot win with this hand they cannot lose either because all players are already done dealing and moving into the betting rounds. Player two also has a pair, this time with the coveted ace, giving them a weak top pair. Player three has the best Crazy Pineapple hand with trips to the max composed entirely of connected cards. Should this hand go to showdown Player three would have the nut straight with