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Poker Hands

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This article uses material from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_rankings, and is reissued under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The Deck of Cards (Deck) is composed of 52 Cards. Each card has both (i) exactly one of the thirteen Ranks; and (ii) exactly one of the four Suits. No two cards in the Deck share both the same Rank and the same Suit.

The Ranks (acceptable abbreviation) are Ace (A), King (K), Queen (Q), Jack (J), Ten (10 or T), Nine (9), Eight (8), Seven (7), Six (6), Five (5), Four (4), Three, (3), Deuce (2).

The Suits (acceptable abbreviation) are Clubs (c or ♣), Spades (s or ♠), Hearts (h or ♥), Diamonds (d or ♦).

The following general rules apply to evaluating poker hands, whatever set of hand values are used.

Individual cards are ranked A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, A. Aces only appear low when part of an A-2-3-4-5 straight or straight flush. Individual card ranks are used to compare hands that contain no pairs or other special combinations, or to compare the kickers of otherwise equal hands. Suits have no value. The suits of the cards are mainly used in determining whether a hand fits a certain category (specifically the flush and straight flush hands). In most variants, if two players have hands that are identical except for suit, then they are tied and split the pot (so 3♠ 4♠ 5♠ 6♠ 7♠ does not beat 3♦ 4♦ 5♦ 6♦ 7♦).

By individual card ranks: even the lowest qualifying hand in a certain category defeats all hands in all lower categories. The smallest two pair hand (2♦ 2♠ 3♦ 3♣ 4♠), for example, defeats all hands with just one pair or high card. Only between two hands in the same category are card ranks used to break ties.

A Player's poker hand consists of exactly five cards. In the case of Texas Hold-Em Poker, a Player's poker hand may consist of: both of the Player's Hole Cards plus exactly three Community Cards; exactly one of the Player's Hole Cards plus exactly four Community Cards; or none of the Player's Hole Cards and all five Community Cards.

The ranking of hands, from highest to lowest, is as follows:

  • Straight Flush
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a Kind
  • Two Pair
  • Pair
  • High Card


Straight Flush

A straight flush is a poker hand such as Q♣ J♣ 10♣ 9♣ 8♣, which contains five cards in sequence, all of the same suit. As such it is both a straight and a flush. Two such hands are compared by their highest card; since suits have no relative value, two otherwise identical straight flushes tie (so 10♣ 9♣ 8♣ 7♣ 6♣ ties with 10♥ 9♥ 8♥ 7♥ 6♥). Aces can play low in straights and straight flushes: 5♦ 4♦ 3♦ 2♦ A♦ is a 5–high straight flush, also known as a "steel wheel". An ace-high straight flush such as A♠ K♠ Q♠ J♠ 10♠ is known as a royal flush, and is the highest ranking standard poker hand.

Four of a Kind

Four of a kind, also known as quads, is a poker hand such as 9♣ 9♠ 9♦ 9♥ J♥, which contains four cards of one rank, and an unmatched card of another rank. It ranks above a full house and below a straight flush. Higher ranking quads defeat lower ranking ones. In community-card games (such as Texas Hold 'em or games with wildcards) it is possible for two or more players to obtain the same quad; in this instance, the unmatched card acts as a kicker, so 7♣ 7♠ 7♦ 7♥ J♥ defeats 7♣ 7♠ 7♦ 7♥ 10♣.

Full House

A full house, also known as a full boat, is a hand such as 3♣ 3♠ 3♦ 6♣ 6♥, which contains three matching cards of one rank, and two matching cards of another rank. It ranks below a four of a kind and above a flush. Between two full houses, the one with the higher ranking set of three wins, so 7♠ 7♥ 7♦ 4♠ 4♣ defeats 4♠ 4♥ 4♦ 7♠ 7♣. If two hands have the same set of three (possible in wild card and community card games), the hand with the higher pair wins, so 5♣ 5♦ 5♠ J♠ J♦ loses to 5♥ 5♦ 5♠ Q♥ Q♣. Full houses are described as "Three full of Pair" or occasionally "Three over Pair"; Q♣ Q♦ Q♠ 9♥ 9♣ could be described as "Queens over nines", "Queens full of nines", or simply "Queens full". However, "Queens over nines" is more commonly used to describe the hand containing two pairs, one pair of queens and one pair of nines, as in Q♠ Q♥ 9♣ 9♠ J♦.

Flush

A flush is a poker hand such as Q♣ 10♣ 7♣ 6♣ 4♣, which contains five cards of the same suit, not in rank sequence. It ranks above a straight and below a full house. Two flushes are compared as if they were high card hands; the highest ranking card of each is compared to determine the winner. If both hands have the same highest card, then the second-highest ranking card is compared, and so on until a difference is found. If the two flushes contain the same five ranks of cards, they are tied – suits are not used to differentiate them. Flushes are described by their highest card, as in "queen-high flush" to describe Q♦ 9♦ 7♦ 4♦ 3♦. If the rank of the second card is important, it can also be included: K♠ 10♠ 5♠ 3♠ 2♠ is a "king-ten-high flush" or just a "king-ten flush", while K♥ Q♥ 9♥ 5♥ 4♥ is a "king-queen-high flush".

Straight

A straight is a poker hand such as Q♣ J♠ 10♠ 9♥ 8♥, which contains five cards of sequential rank but in more than one suit. It ranks above three of a kind and below a flush. Two straights are ranked by comparing the highest card of each. Two straights with the same high card are of equal value, suits are not used to separate them. Straights are described by their highest card, as in "ten-high straight" or "straight to the ten" for 10♣ 9♦ 8♥ 7♣ 6♠.

A hand such as A♣ K♣ Q♦ J♠ 10♠ is an ace-high straight, and ranks above a king-high straight such as K♥ Q♠ J♥ 10♥ 9♣. The ace may also be played as a low card in a five-high straight such as 5♠ 4♦ 3♦ 2♠ A♥, which is colloquially known as a wheel. The ace may not "wrap around", or play both high and low: 3♣ 2♦ A♥ K♠ Q♣ is not a straight, but just ace-high no pair.

Three of a Kind

Three of a kind, also called trips or set, is a poker hand such as 2♦ 2♠ 2♣ K♠ 6♥, which contains three cards of the same rank, plus two unmatched cards. It ranks above two pair and below a straight. In Texas Hold 'Em, a "set" refers specifically to a three of a kind comprised of a pocket pair and one card of matching rank on the board. Higher-valued three of a kind defeat lower-valued three of a kind, so Q♠ Q♥ Q♦ 7♠ 4♣ defeats J♠ J♣ J♦ A♦ K♣. If two hands three of a kinds of the same value, possible in games with wild cards or community cards, the kickers are compared to break the tie, so 4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 8♦ 6♣ defeats 4♦ 4♣ 4♠ 6♣ 5♦.

Two Pair

A poker hand such as J♥ J♣ 4♣ 4♠ 9♥, which contains two cards of the same rank, plus two cards of another rank (that match each other but not the first pair), plus one unmatched card, is called two pair. It ranks above one pair and below three of a kind. To rank two hands both containing two pair, the higher ranking pair of each is first compared, and the higher pair wins (so 10♠ 10♣ 8♥ 8♣ 4♠ defeats 8♥ 8♣ 4♠ 4♣ 10♠). If both hands have the same "top pair", then the second pair of each is compared, such that 10♠ 10♣ 8♥ 8♣ 4♠ defeats 10♠ 10♣ 4♠ 4♥ 8♥). Finally, if both hands have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner: 10♠ 10♣ 8♥ 8♣ 4♠ loses to 10♠ 10♣ 8♥ 8♣ A♦. Two pair are described by the higher pair first, followed by the lower pair if necessary; K♣ K♦ 9♠ 9♥ 5♥ could be described as "Kings over nines", "Kings and nines" or simply "Kings up" if the nines are not important.

Pair

One pair is a poker hand such as 4♥ 4♠ K♠ 10♦ 5♠, which contains two cards of the same rank, plus three other unmatched cards. It ranks above any high card hand, but below all other poker hands. Higher ranking pairs defeat lower ranking pairs; if two hands have the same pair, the non-paired cards (the kickers) are compared in descending order to determine the winner.

High Card

A high-card or no-pair hand is a poker hand such as K♥ J♣ 8♣ 7♦ 3♠, in which no two cards have the same rank, the five cards are not in sequence, and the five cards are not all the same suit. It is also referred to as "no pair", as well as "nothing", "garbage," and various other derogatory terms. High card ranks below all other poker hands; two such hands are ranked by comparing the highest ranking card. If those are equal, then the next highest ranking card from each hand is compared, and so on until a difference is found. High card hands are described by the one or two highest cards in the hand, such as "king high", "ace-queen high", or by as many cards as are necessary to break a tie.

The lowest possible high card is seven-high (such as 7♠ 5♣ 4♦ 3♦ 2♣), because a hand such as 6♦ 5♣ 4♠ 3♦ 2♥ would be a straight.