Whether you’re sitting down at a table in Las Vegas or in 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 at least understand the basics. You need to know and be able to immediately recognize the different hands in poker. 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:
In some games, the can be used below the , as well as above the . However, in classic poker games, the 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 percent 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 – . Therefore, a possible royal straight flush would be a .
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 or a .
However, this straight flush can be beaten by other straight flushes, based on the quality of the straight. In the two examples above, the 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 . 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.
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 with three .
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 hand in poker, yet more on the achievable side of things.
A flush could look like a or a . 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 the suit won’t be the same.
An example of a straight could be a . 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, a three of a kind can look like this .
The highest-ranking three of a kind wins in the event that two players have the hand.
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 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.
Next, you have a single pair. This is a single pair of any two cards in any suit. For example, a or a . If there are multiple players with pairs, the highest pair wins.
Finally, the high card hand is a common hand 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.
Ari Waknine was born in Brooklyn, New York and was the founder of iGamble Group, an online gaming critique firm that helps players pick online gambling websites that fit their profile, as well as, helping them to increase their winnings. He is also the founder of NewCasinos.org, and is strictly focusing on this project making stronger and better than ever.