Poker Hand Rankings — Order of Poker Hands

What follows are the hand rankings that are followed in casinos and online, where wild cards are not allowed. Poker rules are generally consistent between online card rooms and live card rooms.

In home games, of course, wild cards are generally employed. When using wild cards, it is possible to make five of a kind, which is the highest hand possible. Five deuces beats a royal flush! Five aces is king, the absolute highest hand possible.

Here, in order of highest to lowest, are the poker hand rankings used by online poker sites and casinos:

1) Royal Flush: The Ace, King, Queen, Jack and Ten, all of one suit.

2) Straight Flush: Five sequential cards, all of one suit. Eg., the T,9,8,7,6 of spades is a straight flush. Technically, royal flushes are straight flushes, the highest straight flush possible. They are always referred to as royal flushes though.

3) Four of a Kind: Eg., AAAA3 or 2222K.

4) Full House: A hand that contains three of a kind plus two of a kind. Eg. AAAKK or 22288.  Full houses are ranked by the rank of the three of a kind they contain. Thus 33344 beats 222AA.

5) Flush: Five cards of the same suit.  J9632 of spades is a flush.  As is AQT54 of hearts.  When ranking flushes against each other, the suit is irrelevant. What counts is the highest card in the hand, or if those are both the same, the next highest, and so on.  In this example, the heart flush beats the spade flush because Ace is higher than Jack.  If the heart flush were J8752, it would lose to the spade flush, because its second card, the eight, is lower than the nine in the spade flush hand.  In the rare event that two flushes contain exactly the same cards, they split the pot.

6) Straight: Five sequential cards, not all of the same suit, like 65432.  Aces go both high and low when making straights.  You can use it high to make a “Broadway” straight: AKQJT. Or you can use it low to make a “Wheel” straight: 5432A.  Like flushes, when two straights go head to head, they are ranked by their highest cards. When two players have identical straights, the pot is split.

7) Three of a Kind: Eg., 222K8 or AAA52.

8 ) Two Pair: Eg., AA228 or KKQQ7.  If two players have two pair, the hands are ranked by the highest pair.  Thus in this example AA22 beats KKQQ.  If both players have the identical two pair, their side cards are compared.  Thus  KKQQ9 beats KKQQ8.

9) One Pair: Eg., AA743 or 55972.  If two players have the same pair, the side cards are compared.

10) No Pair, High Card: Eg, AJ874 or 96432.  Two no pair hands are ranked by their highest card, and if those are the same, then their second highest, and so on.  If you play Texas Hold’em, you will wind up with a no pair hand very frequently.  Thus Ace high or even King high are frequently good enough to call with. Knowing how to play unpaired hands is a large part of what makes great poker players.

Low Hand Rankings (Lowball Poker Rules)

In Lowball Poker, hands are ranked from low to high.  Thus you are looking for hands containing no pairs, and all low cards.  Pairs are terrible and unplayable, as are all higher hands.  Flushes and straights do not count, however.  The only thing that matters is the rank of the cards. Another wrinkle is that Aces are played low, and are the lowest card.  Thus 5432A is the lowest hand possible, and is referred to as a “Wheel.”  When ranking lowball hands, you first look at the highest card in both hands.  Thus 87654 beats 9432A.  If the highest cards are the same, then you compare the next highest.  Thus 86532 beats 87432.  And so on. 6543A beats 65432.  And if you ever find yourself on the losing end of that one, that qualifies as a “bad beat”!

A  very popular variation of Lowball Poker is “Kansas City Lowball” or “Deuce to Seven.”  In this variation, Aces play high, and straights and flushes count against you.  Thus the best hand possible is 75432 offsuit.



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