Poker Rules & How To Play Online Poker
You have a royal flush. The highest-ranking hand is yours in a game of online poker, and you’re sure you’ll win. But what if you don’t? What if you only have a pair of queens? Or a high card?
Knowing your poker hand rankings is crucial to win at the table. It’s the difference between making a big bet and folding, or calling a bluff and getting caught.
Why are poker hand rankings so important? In online poker, you don’t know your opponents’ cards but you have to make quick decisions based on the relative strength of your hand. The best way to win at poker is to know your hand rankings and to play your hands accordingly. This means playing your strong hands aggressively and folding your weak hands.
If you have A♥ A♧ you have a very strong hand. Bet and raise confidently.
But if you have K♦ 2♥, you’re in a much weaker position. Fold or play cautiously.
Of course, there’s more to winning at poker than just knowing your hand rankings. You also need to be able to read your opponents, bluff, and manage your bankroll. Tripsy Games is one of the best platforms to learn poker and master your skills. Play free practice games with real-time players, learn from our guides, to-do lists, tips and strategies.
Poker Hands Ranked
A captivating card game online, poker can be enjoyed among friends, families and professionals alike. To win, you must master the poker hand rankings system to dominate the table, whether playing for fun or for money.
All popular poker game variants, including Texas Hold’em and Omaha, use the same hand rankings, so it’s quite important to learn them if you want to dominate the table. Here is a handy cheat sheet to help you learn the Poker rules, master the rankings and become a champion.
Royal Flush: Strongest possible hand where A, K, Q, J, 10 are of the same suit. [A♥ K♥ Q♥ J♥ 10♥]
Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards in sequence, all of the same suit. [4♤ 5♤ 6♤ 7♤ 8♤]
Four-of-a-Kind: A ‘quad’ or four cards, all of the same rank. [J♤ J♥ J♦ J♧ 4♦]
Full House: A matching three-of-a-kind with a pair of a different value. [8♤ 8♦ 8♥ K♦ K♧]
Flush: Any five cards of the same suit, but not in a consecutive order. [3♧ 6♧ 7♧ 9♧ Q♧]
Straight: Five consecutive cards which do not belong to the same suit. [6♥ 7♤ 8♧ 9♦ 10♤]
Three-of-a-Kind: Three cards of the same rank and two other cards. [A♤ A♥ A♧ 2♤ 6♦]
Two Pair: Two different pairs, each of a different rank. [3♦ 3♤ 8♧ 8♦ 7♥]
One Pair: Two cards of the same value and three other cards. [6♥ 6♤ 9♧ 8♦ J♥]
High Card: Lowest possible hand, made up of five cards with a high-ranking card. [A♤ J♦ 10♧ 9♥ 7♦]
1. Royal Flush
Sitting at the top of the hierarchy in poker, a Royal Flush is a sequence of five most valuable cards of the same suit. For example if you have an Ace, King, Queen, Jack and a Ten of Hearts, you have a royal flush!
Among the millions of possible hands in a 52-card deck, the royal flush stands out as the rarest, with odds of just 1 in 2.6 million. This coveted hand consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit, from ten to ace.
In a 52-card deck there are only 4 possible royal flush combinations and they are all ranked equally. The four flush combinations are as follows:
A royal flush is actually a type of straight-flush, but it beats all other straight-flushes.
Fun Fact: Did you know a Five-of-a-Kind can beat a Royal Flush? A five-of-a-kind is only possible when playing with wild cards. It is five cards of the same value and it beats a royal flush.
2. Straight Flush
The second best hand in a game of poker, Straight Flush occurs when you have five consecutive cards of the same suit.
If two players have Straight Flushes, the one with the higher-ranking high card wins. So, a 10-high Straight Flush beats a 9-high Straight Flush, and so on. But beware, there is one Straight Flush that rules them all: the Royal Flush.
The best straight flush possible is called the Royal Flush and is made up of A-K-Q-J-10.
This is a 9-high straight flush in spades.
This is a king-high straight flush in clubs.
Interesting fact: There are 40 possible straight flush hand combinations in a 52-card deck. A straight flush is a very strong poker hand, second only to a royal flush.
In most poker games, the ace ranks high, but there are some exceptions. For example, in ace-to-six lowball, the ace always ranks low. This means that the lowest possible straight flush is A-2-3-4-5, which is also known as a five-high straight flush.
Four-of-a-Kind is a powerhouse poker hand, third to Royal Flush and Straight Flush. It is formed by four cards of the same rank, regardless of suit.
The best possible Four-of-a-Kind is four Aces, known as “quad aces”. This hand is virtually unbeatable, and it is a surefire way to rake in the pot. Other powerful Four-of-a-Kings include quad kings, queens, and jacks. Even if you don't have the highest-ranking quads, you're still in a very strong position to win the hand.
In a deck of 52 cards, there are 624 possibilities to get a Four-of-a-Kind card, or once in every 4,165 hands.
Here are a few examples of Four-of-a-Kind hands:
A♥A♤A♦A♧ (Quad aces)
K♥K♤K♦K♧ (Quad kings)
Q♥Q♤Q♦Q♧ (Quad queens)
J♥J♤J♦J♧ (Quad jacks)
2♥2♤2♦2♧ (Quad twos)
If two or more players get Four-of-a-Kind in a poker match, the quad cards with the highest rank will win. And in case the quad cards are similar too, the kicker card will determine the winner.
4. Full House
A Full House is a combination of a three-of-a-kind and a pair, which means that it is both strong and well-rounded. A full house can be made with any combination of cards, as long as there are three of one rank and two of another.
There are 3,744 different ways to make a full house hand, and 156 different types of full houses that can be made.
For example, a full house could be aces full of nines, kings full of queens, or even threes full of twos.
A♤ A♥ A♧ 9♦ 9♧
8♤ 8♦ 8♥ 7♦ 7♧
4♦ 4♤ 4♧ 9♦ 9♧
Between 8♤ 8♦ 8♥ 7♦ 7♧ and 4♦ 4♤ 4♧ 9♦ 9♧, the former hand will win. However, if two or more full house hand only differ by suit, such as K♧ K♤ K♦ J♧ J♤ and K♧ K♥ K♦ J♧ J♥, both hands are of equal rank.
The Full House poker hand is stronger than a Flush but weaker than a Four-of-a-Kind and a Straight Flush.
A Flush is among the powerful hands in poker, consisting of five cards of the same suit. It is ranked fifth in the poker hand rankings, below a Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four-of-a-Kind, and Full House.
In a 52-card deck, there are 5,108 possible Flush combinations, but only 1,277 distinct ranks. Each Flush is ranked by its highest card, followed by the second-highest card, and so on.
Ace-high Flush: A♤K♤Q♤J♤10♤
King-high Flush: K♥Q♥J♥10♥9♥
Queen-high Flush: Q♦J♦10♦9♦8♦
Jack-high Flush: J♧10♧9♧8♧7♧
The suit of a Flush doesn't matter, only the highest card. If two players have a Flush, the player with the higher high card wins. For example, a King-high Flush beats a Queen-high Flush, regardless of the suit.
Straights are a simple, yet powerful poker hand. Five cards in a row, any suit. The highest possible Straight is Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Ten (A-K-Q-J-10), also known as “Broadway”. The lowest possible Straight is Ace-Two-Three-Four-Five (A-2-3-4-5), also known as the “Wheel” or “Bicycle”.
There are 10,200 possible Straight combinations in a 52-card deck, but only 10 distinct ranks.
Here are some examples of Straights in Poker:
A♥2♧3♤4♦5♥ (Wheel or Bicycle)
Bonus Tip: If you’re on the draw to a Straight, be careful. It’s easy to get caught up in the chase and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Flushes rank directly above Straights in Poker, with the best Flush being Ace-high. The hand that ranks directly under a Straight is called Three-of-a-Kind. The best 3-of-a-Kind hand is three Aces also known as a set of Aces or trip Aces.
Also known as Trips or a Set, Three-of-a-Kind is a poker hand that consists of three cards of the same rank and two other cards of any rank. It’s a powerful hand that can be used to bluff and intimidate opponents, but players must not lose sight of its limitations.
In a standard 52-card deck, there are 54,912 possible 3-of-a-kind hand combinations.
Examples of 3-of-a-kind hands:
Aces and Eights or the Dead Man’s Hand: A♧ A♦ A♤ 8♧ 8♦
Three Kings: K♧ K♦ K♤
Three Queens: Q♧ Q♦ Q♤
When rating one Three-of-a-Kind hand over the next, the rank of the three cards is the most important factor. For example, a Set of Aces is the best Three of a Kind hand, while a Set of twos is the worst. In a case of similar sets, the kickers (two other cards in the hand) play a huge role in breaking ties.
8. Two Pair
Two Pair is one of the most common and powerful winning hands in Hold’em. It consists of two cards of the same rank, two cards of another rank, and a fifth card (kicker).
In a standard 52-card deck, there are 123,552 possible Two Pair hand combinations. There are 858 different combinations of ranks that two pairs can be. For example, Aces and Kings is a distinct rank of Two Pair, as is Queens and Jacks.
Jacks and Threes: J♧3♦3♥J♥2♦
Queens and Jacks: Q♧J♦3♥J♥Q♦
The higher the rank of your two pairs, the stronger your hand. For example, Aces and Kings is the best possible Two Pair hand, while Twos and Threes is the weakest.
If two players have the same two pairs, the kicker determines the winner. The higher the kicker, the stronger the hand. For example, Two Pair, Aces and Kings with a kicker of Aces beats Two Pair, Aces and Kings with a kicker of Queens.
Two Pair is a strong hand in poker, but it is not unbeatable. It can be beaten by Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Four of a Kind, and Straight Flush.
9. One Pair
One Pair is a poker hand that consists of two cards of the same rank, such as K-K, Q-Q, or 10-10. The other three cards in the hand can be any other cards. One Pair is ranked according to the rank of the pair, with higher-ranking pairs beating lower-ranking pairs.
The probability of getting a One Pair hand is 1 in 1.37, which means that it is a relatively common hand in poker. A standard 52-card deck has a staggering 1,098,240 one pair hand combinations, and 2,860 unique ranks to choose from.
One Pair with High-Ranking Kickers: A♧A♥K♥10♤6♦
One Pair with Medium-Ranking Kickers: J♤J♥9♧8♦2♧
One Pair with Low-Ranking Kickers: 8♤8♧6♦J♧3♥
Each pair’s rank is determined by its own strength, followed by the next highest card in the hand, which serves as a tiebreaker.
It is important to note that One Pair is not a very strong hand, and it is often beaten by other hands such as Two Pair, Three-of-a-Kind, and Straight.
10. High Card
Often known as the underdog of the poker world, High Card is the lowest possible hand in Texas Hold’em, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. Even if you don’t have One Pair, Two Pair, Three-of-a-Kind, or any other special hand, you can still win if you have the highest card.
Although there are 1,302,540 possible High Card hand combinations in a 52-card deck, there are only 1,277 distinct ranks of High Card hands.
Here’s an example of how to play a High Card hand:
Your hand: A♤2♤
Analysis: You have an Ace-High hand using all the cards on the board. This is the highest possible High Card hand, so you have a good chance of winning.
Strategy: You can bet or raise to try to scare away your opponents. If someone else calls your bet, be prepared to fold if they have a better hand.
High Card hands are typically the weakest hands in the game. However, it is important to remember that any hand can win in poker, and a High Card hand can still be a winning hand if you play it correctly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the highest possible hand in standard poker hand rankings?
The highest possible hand in standard poker hand rankings is a royal flush, which is five cards of the same suit in consecutive order from 10 to Ace.
How many different hand rankings are there in poker?
There are ten different hand rankings in poker, from the highest to the lowest:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Four of a Kind
- Full House
- Three of a Kind
- Two Pair
- One Pair
- High Card
In which poker variant is a flush higher in ranking than a full house?
Full house hands are stronger than flushes but weaker than royal flushes, straight flushes, and four-of-a-kinds in poker.
Within a full house hand, the higher the rank of the three cards, the stronger the hand. So, a hand of aces full of kings beats a hand of kings full of queens.
Can a poker hand contain cards from multiple suits and still be valid?
Yes, a poker hand can contain cards from multiple suits and still be valid. However, the hand must meet one of the ten hand rankings in order to be considered valid. For example, a hand consisting of two aces, two kings, and a queen is a full house, even though the cards are from different suits.
What is the significance of the “kicker” in determining the winner of a hand?
The kicker is the highest card in a poker hand that is not part of a pair, three of a kind, four of a kind, or straight flush. The kicker is used to determine the winner of a hand when two players have the same hand ranking. For example, if two players both have a pair of aces, the player with the higher kicker wins.
Are there any poker variants where the lowest hand wins instead of the highest?
Yes, there are a few poker variants where the lowest hand wins instead of the highest. One example is Razz, which is a type of seven-card stud poker. In Razz, the lowest five-card hand wins.
How is a straight flush different from a regular straight in poker?
A straight flush is a five-card straight in which all of the cards are the same suit. A regular straight is a five-card straight in which the cards are not all the same suit. For example, a hand consisting of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of hearts is a straight flush, while a hand consisting of 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 of different suits is a regular straight.
What happens when two players have the same ranked hand in a poker game?
When two players have the same ranked hand in a Poker game, the player with the higher kicker wins. If the kickers are also the same, then the pot is split between the two players.
Can you have a hand with more than five cards in poker, and if so, how is it ranked?
Yes, you can have a hand with more than five cards in poker. In some poker variants, such as seven-card stud poker, players are dealt seven cards and must use five of them to make their best hand. In these variants, the hand rankings are the same as in standard poker, but the kicker is more important because players have more cards to choose from.
What is the lowest possible hand in poker, and is it different in various poker variants?
The lowest possible hand in standard poker is a high card, which is a hand that does not contain any pairs, three of a kind, straights, flushes, or full houses. The lowest possible high card is a 2.
In some poker variants, such as Razz, the lowest possible hand is a wheel, which is a five-card straight consisting of 5, 4, 3, 2, and Ace of different suits.