In order to win at poker, a player needs to know what combination of cards beats the other combinations. It is also helpful to know the difficulty, odds, and other information regarding these combinations so that a player can better react and analyze when the cards are dealt. There are nine different possible combinations or hands when playing poker. In order of highest (strongest) to lowest (weakest) ranking combinations there is the Straight flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, Pair, and High Cards are the nine possible poker hand combinations that can be found when playing poker.

Straight Flush

A straight flush is a five card combination of cards that are in sequence, the cards must be in numerical order. They also need to all be of the same suit, such as all hearts or clubs. An example of this is Q? J? 10? 9? 8?, making it a queen-high straight flush. Aces can be played as the lowest or highest cards, with it being the highest card it would be called a Royal Flush; A? K? Q? J? 10?. Straight flushes that end in a higher numerical value beat others with the lower value, such as a 9-high straight flush beats a 6-high straight flush. If there are two straight flushes with the same numerical value, the pot is either split or the suit ranking system can be used; highest to lowest being, spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds.

Four of a Kind

The second highest ranking poker hand is the four of a kind, and it is what the name implies, there is four of one kind of card; it is also referred to as quads. 5? 5? 5? 5? Q? is an example of a quad-5 with a queen kicker. There are a possible 624 poker hands that include a four of a kind, although there are only 14 possible combinations, Two through Ace. If two players have the same four of a kind, the match is settled by who has the highest kicker, the fifth card in their hand. If they both have the same kicker, the pot is split between them.

Full House

A full house is when a player has a combination of a three of a kind and a pair; 8? 8? 8? K? K? makes a full house. Poker hands that contain the higher three of a kind are the winners, however in the special case where players have the same three cards; it is then relied upon the rank of the pair. They are usually named the three of a kind “full of” the number in the pair; such as for the above mentioned full house it would be called Eights full of Kings.

Flush

gA flush is when the players hand has five cards that are the same suit, but not the same sequence. An A? 8? 6? 4? 2? is a flush since it meets the requirements. Two players that have flushes will use the highest ranking card to determine the winner. If they both have the same highest ranking card, they will proceed to use the second highest, and so on until a winner is determined.

Straight

A straight is a poker hand that contains five cards that are in sequence and have at least two different suits; if it was all one suit it would be a straight flush. A straight could be Q? J? 10? 9? 8?, however in poker a straight may not “wrap around”, such as 4? 3? 2? A? K?. The hand with the highest card is the winner, and if there are two players with the same straight, the pot is split. Straights are named after their high card, for instance the above straight would be called a queen-high straight.

Three of a Kind

Three of a kind is also referred to as Trips or a set, and a combination of three cards that are the same rank, such as 10? 10? 10? 8? 6?. For it to be a set, the remaining two cards must not be of any value to the hand. The poker hand that contains the highest ranking number is the winner, and in cases where two players have the same ranking card used in their three of a kind, the kickers will be used to determine the winner.

Two Pair

Two pair is a hand that contains two cards of the same rank, and another two cards with the same rank but different from the first two; the last card is usually some other value. 6? 6? 3? 3? Q? and Q? Q? 8? 8? 5? are both examples of a two pair hand. The winning hand is that with the first highest ranking pair; if two players have the same highest ranking pair, the second pair will be used to determine the winner, and then the kicker will be used.

One Pair

One pair is, just as the name suggests, two cards of the same rank while the remaining three are of no use, such as A? A? 7? 2? 9?. Higher ranking pairs beat out lower ranking, and if players have the same ranked pair the kickers will be used to determine the winner. There is a higher probability of being dealt a pair than any other combination.

High Card

A high card hand is where there are no combinations between the cards, whether they are equal in rank, suit or sequence; Q? 9? 6? 4? 2?. During this time the highest ranking card on the table will determine the winner. If there is more than one player with the highest ranking number, the next highest ranking number will be used and so on. These poker hands are simply referred to as the highest ranking number, such as queen-high.