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What Beats What in Poker: Guide to the Best Hands

What Beats What in Poker: Guide to the Best Hands

Whether you’re sitting down at a table in Las Vegas or your buddy’s dining room betting small cash, it’s essential to know what beats what in poker.

Poker is a card game that transcends time, age, and gender. It can be played for fun or with millions of dollars on the table. While anyone can play it, to excel at poker requires an uncommon skill set.

As the song goes, “you’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” However, it’s not just about playing good hands and folding bad ones. 

You’ve must learn how to bluff. If you only ever bet on good hands, the table would get wise to your game and backpedal any time you placed a bet. Sometimes, you’ve got to pretend to have a good hand.

Finally, being a good poker player requires learning how to read your opponents. They can bet, fold, and call just like you can. However, if you can learn how to read other players, you’ll be able to tell when they’re bluffing and when they’re sitting on an unbeatable hand.

But how do you know if you have a good hand or not?

What Beats What in Poker?

Before you can start perfecting your bluffing and reading of other players, you’ve got to understand the basics at least. You need to know and be able to recognize the different hands in poker immediately. Otherwise, you could be leaving money on the table that should be in your pocket.

Regardless of if you’re playing Texas Hold ’em, Five-Card Draw, Seven-Card Stud, or any of the other variations of poker, the hands are universal and absolute. Take a look at what beats what in poker, starting at the highest possible hand.

Individual Card Ranking 

Learning what beats what in poker starts with individual card rankings. Here is a list of all the cards, from highest to lowest:

As Ks Qs Js 10s 9s 8s 7s 6s 5s 4s 3s 2s

In some games, the As can be used below the 2s, as well as above the Kc. However, in classic poker games, the As is always the high card.

Royal Straight Flush

The royal straight flush is the highest possible hand you can get in poker. This hand is like the unicorn of poker hands – odds are, you won’t see one in your life. There is only a 0.00015% chance of being dealt a royal straight flush.

However, should you get one, it would be a 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace all in the same suit. There are four suits – HeartsDiamondsClubsSpades. Therefore, a possible royal straight flush would be a 10dJdQdKdAd.

Straight Flush 

Next on the totem pole of what beats what in poker is the straight flush. The straight flush is still the second-ranking hand in poker; therefore, it isn’t easy to obtain. However, your odds are much better than the royal straight flush.

A straight flush can be any sequence of five cards of the same suit. For example, it could be a 7s8s9s10sJs or a 2h3h4h5h6h

However, this straight flush can be beaten by other straight flushes, based on the quality of the straight. In the two examples above, the 7s8s9s10sJs flush would win because it holds higher cards.

Four of a Kind

Another difficult hand to achieve is the four of a kind. This high hand requires getting the same card in all four suits, which is why it’s probability is still quite low. 

An example of a four of a kind would be a 10d10s10h10c. The fifth card you hold is irrelevant. If someone else were to have a four of a kind, the highest-ranking cards would take the pot.

Full House 

Next on the list of what beats what in poker is the full house. Once again, the odds are still pretty slim on this hand, but worlds easier than getting a straight flush or royal straight flush. 

The heavy-hitting full house is a five-card hand that consists of a pair of any kind with a triplet of any kind. For example, a full house could be a pair of 7s7h with three JcJhJs

As with most hands, should an opponent also possess a full house, the ranking of the cards determines the winner. Whoever has the highest triplet takes the pot.


The flush is any set of five cards with the same suit. This is a powerful poker hand, yet more on the achievable side of things. 

A flush could look like a 2h7h8h10hQh or a 6d7d8dKdAd. Should two flushes clash on the table, the flush with the highest card wins.


Next, you have the straight. The straight is a five-card hand that consists of an unbroken sequence. It’s not a straight flush so that the suit won’t be the same. 

An example of a straight could be a 4h5s6c7h8d. If two players have straights, the highest-ranking straight will win.

Three of a Kind

Learning what beats what in poker also requires knowing that a small hand is still a good hand, such as the three of a kind is a strong hand for most rounds. It consists of three of the same cards in any suit. For example, three of a kind can look like this QhQdQc

The highest-ranking three of a kind wins if two players have the hand.

Two Pair

A two pair hand isn’t a high ranking hand, but it’s not a bad one to bet on. This hand requires two separate pairs in any suit. For example a 4c4h8d8c is a typical two pair.

Should two or more players have a two-pair hand, the player with the highest single pair will win. If two players share the high pair, their secondary pair will determine the winner.

One Pair

Next, you have a single pair. This is a single pair of any two cards in any suit. For example, a 7s7c or a QdQh. If there are multiple players with pairs, the highest pair wins.

High Card

Finally, the high card hand is common played (normally through bluffing) when a player has no other hands but refuses to fold. If multiple players play high card hands, the highest car will take the pot.

Want More Help

If you enjoyed this quick guide on what beats what in poker, take a moment to check out some of our other online casino guides! Alternatively, take a look at some online casino reviews to get an idea of where you want to play.

1 Dec. 2019, by

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