What Beats What in Poker

The most important thing to know before you begin to play poker for money is about the hand rankings. These rankings determine the position of your hand in comparison to the hands of the other players when choose the winning hand. Hand rankings remain the same in all variants of poker.

In Texas Holdem, each player at the table must try to make the best possible five-card hand using their two hole cards and the community cards or just the community cards. The player with the best hand ranking is the one to win the pot. Here we will see how hands are ranked, working our way from the top ranking hand to the lowest hand ranking.

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Poker Hands Ranked from Highest to Lowest

The highest hand ranking is that of the Straight Flush. It comprises of a sequence of five cards of the same suit. Although, a straight flush could be a set of any five consecutive numbers of the same suit, such as 7-6-5-4-3, it is the sequence 10-J-Q-K-A, which is considered the highest possible hand. This Ace high straight flush is also known as the Royal Flush. All lower sequences would only be a straight flush. The Ace can also combine with the lowest number sequence to form the lowest straight flush 5-4-3-2-A.

The next highest hand ranking is Four Of A Kind. Also known as quads, four of a kind is a set of four cards of the same value. This will obviously be the same card from each of the suits, for example 4-4-4-4. The fifth card can be any card. However, if two players have four of a kind, which is very rare, it is the fifth card that will decide the winner. For example, 4-4-4-4-7 and 4-4-4-4-J where the second hand is higher than the first because the Jack is greater in value than 7 and therefore a winner.

Full House

Full House is the next to follow and comprises of three cards of the same value or three of a kind and two cards of another value making up a pair, for example, 9-9-5-5-5. If two players have a full house, the highest three of a kind will decide the winner, for example 6-6-6-9-9 and Q-Q-Q-10-10, where the latter is the winning hand. If the players have the same three of a kind, such as Q-Q-Q-5-5 AND Q-Q-Q-3-3, the pair will decide the winner, in this case, the former.


Flush comes next and is a five card hand of the same suit. The cards need not be in a sequence like in a straight flush. They can be any cards, but must come from the same suit. Four or less cards of the same suit do not constitute a flush. If two players happen to have a flush, then the player with the highest flush wins. For example, 3-5-7-9-Q and 6-8-J-K-A, where the latter is an Ace high and therefore a winning hand.

Then we have the Straight, which is a hand comprising of a sequence of cards from the same suit, such as 8-7-6-5-4 of hearts. The Ace constitutes both high and low hands, such as 10-J-Q-K-A, where it plays high and A-2-3-4-5 where it forms a low hand.

Three Of A Kind

Three of a kind features three cards of the same value along with two random number cards. The two unmatched cards are also called ‘Trips’. The highest three of a kind is the winner. In case of a tie, it is the two kicker cards that will decide the winner.

Next is Two Pair, which consists of two pairs and a kicker card completing the hand. The higher pair is the winner, but if two players happen to have a two pair of the same value, the fifth card or kicker card will decide the winner.

One Pair

One pair is next in line and completes a hand with a pair and three random cards also called kicker cards. The highest pair is two Aces or A-A, while the lowest pair is 2-2. The hand with the highest pair wins, but if there is a tie, the kicker cards decide the winning hand.

Last but not the least, is the High Card. This is a hand that fails to meet any of the above hand combinations. In fact it has nothing in the hand but just five different cards. In case of a high card, the hand with the highest value card will win the hand. If two players have the same high card, then the next highest card decides the winner.

So these are the hand rankings that you must get yourself familiar with if you want to play online holdem games. Understanding of this hand ranking is essential before you proceed to the table or else you won’t know which hands to play and which to discard.