While poker is one of the easiest card games to comprehend, there is also a number of poker hands which you should become familiar with to better your chances of winning. Each set offers different poker hand rankings which are necessary to understand to better grasp who has won and which hand beats yours. This also helps you determine which poker combinations are best to bet on, impacting your decision of either folding, calling or raising.
Below you will begin to immediately extend your knowledge and greatly improve your chances of winning, simply by reading this comprehensive list of must-know poker hands. If you want to play like a pro poker star, you need to do yourself this one small favour and change the dynamics of every game played hereafter.
Must-Know High Poker Hand Rankings
Ranked from highest to lowest, these hands apply to all poker variants, so make sure to really study and memorise them.
- Royal Flush: This is the best possible hand in poker. It includes a 10, J, Q, K, and ACE, all of the same suit. So, for example, all of the cards will be diamonds, hearts, spades or clubs.
- Straight Flush: The second most powerful hand is that of a straight flush. This is basically the same as the Royal Flush, with the only exception being that it can be any sequence of numbers, such as 7, 8, 9, 10, and J.
- Four of a Kind: Also known as “Quads”, includes 4 cards of the same rank. So you would, for example, have four Jacks or four twos. They of course, wouldn’t be of the same suit.
- Full House: This is three of a kind and one pair. These poker hands look something like this; 10, 10, 10 and 7, 7.
- Flush: This is the case when you have 5 cards of the same suit but they aren’t running in sequence.
- Straight: You will have 5 cards running in sequence but not of the same suit.
- Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank; 10, 10 and 10.
- Two Pair: Two pairs out of the 5 cards.
- Pair: One pair of the same number.
- High Card: When you have the highest card and no other player has any of the above mentioned poker hand rankings.
The 10 Top Starting Poker Hands
While the above mentioned are the most traditional of poker hands, there are also some very prominent starting hands, the best cards dealt before playing and cards you certainly wouldn’t under any circumstances fold with. If you want to further your skill set even more, you will immediately act upon learning the following as this may be the determining factor to how you choose to wager. Here is the defining moment you have been waiting for, they are ranked according to their importance.
Anyone who is into poker will tell you this poker combination is one of the strongest for a starting hand. What is referred to as the pre-flop, the round just before the community cards are dealt in a sequence of three, will determine whether or not you will have a good chance to take the pot thanks to a great dealing of hands.
This is a more likely hand in smaller groups of players as there is a better chance you or another player will be dealt with 2 Aces. You should play your Pocket Aces , for sure.
Ranking next to pocket Aces would be two Kings, often referred to as ‘Cowboys’, which will beat a hand with only 1 Ace. This is an incredibly coveted hand and should always be played.
Every King needs his Queen, and the third most significant hand is a pair of pocket queens. When you become a little more familiar with the game you begin to realise, for each hand you are dealt, there is a limited amount left in the deck which will either be dealt to other players, be in the community cards or be the river. When you are dealt with a pair of pocket Queen you immediately know there are only 8 over cards left, the highest valued cards, that is.
Although famed for being a good looking poker hand, the Ace-King suited pair isn’t as appealing as they might appear. It is however a good deal as you still win against all pocket pairs 50% of the time, however this will not warrant a win against pocket Aces and pocket Kings. Both cards are of the same suit.
Although this too may seem like a visually appealing hand, not all instances would agree. There is a 50/50 chance you stand to win against any other unpaired hand. Yet, this hand remains amongst the favourites to be dealt with before the pre-flop.
It’s no brainer that poker hand rankings would work their way down to pocket tens, after the pocket Jacks. What does come as a surprise is how impressive the pre-flop hand is. You needn’t land another ten for three of a kind to continue as it’s only the pre-flop round. This round is also more predictable in terms of being able to fold depending where you are seated.
Being seated mid to last position allows you the advantage of being able to determine how good of a hand other players have according to how they bet, fold, raise and check. What isn’t easy to determine however, is whether or not they are bluffing.
Ironically this hand is ranked higher than the Ace-King suited poker hands. You needn’t concern yourself if you don’t land a pair as you can match either the Queen or the Ace to a number of other potential winning hands. The Ace and the Queen are of the same suit.
The opposite yet not entirely different card selection to the Ace-King suited poker hand is where the Ace and the King are from two entirely different suits. This pre-flop hand stands to win at about 40% of the occasions against any other hand omitting Aces and Kings as they are sensationally hard to beat.
This hand is called when you are dealt with an Ace and a Jack of the same suit. What makes this one of the stronger poker hands is the potential to create a royal flush when the flop is being played. It is an age old knowledge that a hand like this should be played cautiously, especially if a player has raised confidently. There are still cards in the deck to kill this hand as any Ace-King or Ace-Queen poker combinations will trump your high hand.
As beautiful as this pair looks, there is some caution when taking on the pair as a pre-flop hand. Yes, there is potential here for a royal flush as well as a straight flush, but other players may still have a stronger hand, for example – any of the above mentioned, which you should be able to gauge by the opposition’s strong calls and raises. But then again they could just be bluffing. One way to define their actions is to watch how they play and put your best poker face on while doing so.
Poker Combinations and Identifying Tips
If you feel slightly overwhelmed as a novice player and are only beginning to understand how poker works, you may want to keep a few simplified guidelines to help you better identify the best winning combinations. Here are a few tips to get you through the teething pains.
- Aces are amongst the higher valued cards holding the most potential for landing a worthy win.
- A flush beats a straight.
- Three of a kind beats a two pair.
- The best 5 cards win and any other cards are null and void to the best of these 5 cards you currently hold.
- Watch your opponents as their calls on the game will give you the advantage of predicting how strong their hands are in terms of the pre-flop.
- Stay alert and try count how many high cards are in play judging by what you have seen dealt with and what other players are betting on.
- Fold if you must. Never play a hand where you feel you are wasting your time, even if it is smack bang in the middle of a round. Reserve your energy and bankroll to play stronger hands, especially as a novice player.
Depending how strong your knowledge is of each hand, the better your judgement becomes of who might have what and when you should fold, call or raise. However, having just a smidgen more knowledge than most or even knowing your poker hands immediately puts you in the front of the race and turns the odds in your favour. Use this poker hands guide to determine the outcome of your next game.