The one thing that holds true, across all versions of online poker, is that the player with the best hand will win a game. However, even a simple statement like this raises another question: what is the best hand in online poker?
Thankfully, there is a simple answer to this question, and whether you’re playing in an old or a new casino, there is a consistent order of ranking that always determines which player has the best hand.
How are hands ranked in poker?
There are three different categories that are relevant when ranking hands. These include the following:
- Card values: The “number cards” are ranked in ascending numerical order from 2-10. These are outranked by the picture cards, in the following order: J, Q, K and A. The “A” or “Ace” card can also stand in as a “1” if it suits the hand – we’ll discuss this in more detail soon.
- Card suits: Ordinarily, the “suit” of a card – Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, or Spades – doesn’t affect the ranking of a hand. It only becomes important if two players have hands that are identical in every other way. If, for example, both players have a pair of Aces, the player holding the Ace of Spades will win. The “strength” order of the suits is as set out above, with Clubs the weakest through to Spades as the strongest.
- Card sequences: Some hands will win based on the fact that the player has five cards that run in order: 3,4,5,6 and 7 would be an example, as would 8,9,10, J and Q.
So, with these basics established, we can move on to identifying the hands that you’ll want to look out for. Read on to find out more, starting with the best, through to the worst, poker hands.
- Royal Flush: The best possible hand in online poker, the Royal Flush includes all the picture cards and the highest number card in the same suit, so the 10, J, Q, K, and A. In the unlikely scenario where two players have a Royal Flush, the pot will be split.
- Straight Flush: As with the Royal Flush, this hand contains five cards of the same suit in sequence. If two players have a Straight Flush, the one with the highest card wins – so, for example:
- Hand #1: 8,9,10,J and Q – Q is the highest card
- Hand #2: 7,8,9,10 and J – J is the highest card
- Hand #1 would win, as Q is higher than J.
- Four of a Kind: This hand is achieved if one player has four cards of the same value, for example, four 9s. If two players have this hand, the highest value hand wins; four 9s would beat four 3s, for example.
- Full House: If you have three cards of the same value (such as JJJ) and the other two cards are a pair (such as KK), then you have a Full House. If two players have this hand, the tie is broken in favour of the higher “three”:
- Hand #3: 88833 – the “three” is 8s
- Hand #4: 555AA – the “three” is 5s
- Hand #3 would win, as 8s are higher than 5s.
- Flush: This simply means any five cards of the same suit. They need not be of any particular sequence or value. If two people have a flush, the highest card would break the tie.
- Straight: A straight is any hand with five cards in sequence by value. For example, 2,3,4,5 and 6 – regardless of suit – is a straight. A Straight Flush is a combination of this hand (cards all in sequence) and a Flush (all of the same suit).
- It’s also worth noting that an “A” can operate as a “1”, so A,2,3,4 and 5 also counts as a Straight.
- Three of a Kind: Any three cards of the same value. If two players have this hand, the winner is the one who has the higher value “three”. For example:
- Hand #5: the three is AAA
- Hand #6: the three is QQQ
- Hand #5 wins, as AAA is higher than QQQ
- Two Pair: Better than one Pair, but not as good as Three of a Kind according to the rules of poker. The highest-value pair wins if two players are tied on Two Pair. If both players have cards of the same value in their Two Pair, then the decider is the other two cards:
- Hand #7: AAKK – the second highest pair is KK
- Hand #8: AAQQ – the second highest pair is QQ
- Hand #7 wins, as KK is higher than QQ
If two players have the same two pairs (both pull AAKK, for example), the kicker will determine the winner.
- Pair: As the name suggests, two of the same card. When two players have this hand, the highest-value Pair wins, with the same tiebreakers as above.
- High Card: If no-one has managed any of the above, the theoretical winner is the person with the highest individual card. The second highest card is declared winner.
It is worth mentioning that in games of Hold ‘Em and Omaha two players can end up with an identical “Three of a Kind”, or even “Four of a Kind” if you are playing with Jokers Wild. If this happens, the non-matching cards in a hand (also known as the Kickers) will be used as the tie-breaker: whoever has the higher-ranking Kicker will be given the win. In the case of two players with the same Three of a Kind and the same “high-ranking” Kicker, the player with the higher low-ranking Kicker will be awarded the win.
So now you’ve seen it laid out like this, you will know which hands to look out for when trying to establish how to win at poker in any room from the best online casino to the most obscure.
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