Introduction to Poker Hands

Poker is a game that relies on skill, strategy and anticipation. A common saying about poker is that you "play people, not cards." While it will be very helpful for you to pick up little clues and read how your opponents are playing, in the end, the cards will settle the matter. This is why it is very important to know all poker hands through and through. This will help you evaluate how good your cards are and hopefully make informed decisions. You may still be playing with people rather than cards, but at least you have all the know-how to back your game and therefore have a better chance of winning.

Poker hands

Most poker variations have the same types of poker hands, which are ranked in the same order unless otherwise noted. After you play a lot of poker, these hands and how they are ranked will become second nature to you. However, it is better to master them completely before jumping into any game. Learning through trial and error can be frustrating, expensive, and even unnecessary. After reading this quick guide, you will have a better understanding of your hands and can start playing with more confidence. These are all the hands, from lowest rank to highest:

  1. High card
  2. pair
  3. Two pairs
  4. Troika
  5. Straight
  6. Flash
  7. Full house
  8. Four types
  9. Straight flush
  10. Royal Flush

Highest card

If there are no matching cards, straights or flushes between your hole cards and the community cards, then your hand will be determined by your highest hole card. Cards are ranked from 2 to Ace, with Ace being the highest. If your highest card is of equal value to your opponent, then your second card will determine which player wins.

For example, if you have a king and your opponent has a jack, you win. If your opponent also has a King, then the winner will be determined by the next highest card. If your second card is a 7 and your opponent has a 6, you win. If you both have 7s, then the round is equal and you split the pot.

In the case of 5-card poker, the following applies:

  • Quantity: 1,302,540
  • Probability: 0.5011774

Count is the number of opportunities that can be drawn, and probability is the probability that they will be drawn.


If there are two matching cards between your 2 hole cards and 5 community cards, it is a pair. Your two hole cards could be a pair, or you simply have a pair between one of your hole cards and one of the 5 community cards. If the pair is within the community cards, then everyone at the table has made two pairs, so the round will be determined by who has the highest card.

  • Quantity: 1,098,240
  • Probability: 0.4225690

Two pairs

Two pairs beat one pair. If there are two sets of matching pairs between your hole cards and the community cards, then it counts as two pairs. If both pairs are within 5 community cards, then they are not taken into account, since all players have two pairs. The round is determined by which player has a pair other than these two, and then by who has the highest card.

  • Quantity: 123,552
  • Probability: 0.0475390

Three of a kind

Three of a kind is when there are three cards of the same value. This could be three sevens or three Ks. The best three is when you have two hole cards. If you only have one, then you will still have a three of a kind, but there is a good chance that the other player will also have a matching card. In the worst case, the community cards make up a three of a kind, since then it is shared by all participants at the table.

  • Quantity: 54,912
  • Probability: 0.0211285


A straight is a group of 5 consecutive cards. The cards do not have to be of the same suit. For example, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 make a straight. It doesn't matter whether the straight starts low or high as long as there are 5 cards in the sequence.

  • Quantity: 10,200
  • Probability: 0.0039246


This is when you have 5 cards of the same suit between the community cards and your hole cards. These can be high rank cards or low rank cards, it doesn't matter. For example, you could have 3, king, 6, jack and 8 clubs.

  • Quantity: 5,108
  • Probability: 0.0019654

Full house

A full house is one pair and one three of a kind. For example, it could be a pair of fives and three sevens.

  • Quantity: 3,744
  • Probability: 0.0014406

Four types

It's really rare, but if you have four matching cards between your hole cards and 5 community cards, you have four cards of a kind. For example, it could be 9 hearts, 9 diamonds, 9 spades and 9 clubs.

  • Quantity: 624
  • Probability: 0.0002401

Straight flush

This is a combination of a straight and a flush. Essentially, it requires 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. For example, you could have 8, 9, 10, jack and queen of all clubs.

  • Quantity: 36
  • Probability: 0.0000139

Royal Flush

The rarest and strongest hand of all is the royal flush. This is a straight flush consisting of the highest rank cards: 10, jack, queen, king and ace. Only 4 royal flushes can be formed in a round: hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs.

  • Quantity: 4
  • Probability: 0.0000015

Hand Study Practice

Probabilities and odds aside, the first thing you should pay attention to when playing is how strong your hand is. After the flop, turn and river, the dynamics of the game can change dramatically. Anticipation is everything, and when you know different hands, you have a better chance of guessing what cards your opponent has. Here are some scenarios to help you learn poker hands.

Games 1

Preflop and flop

  • Your cards: 8 of spades and 3 of spades
  • Opponent's cards: 5 diamonds and 10 clubs.
  • Community cards: 5 hearts, 9 spades and 8 diamonds.

You both have one pair. You have a pair of eights, and your opponent has a pair of fives. Your opponent leads with a high card of 8.

Turn and River

  • Turn: 5 of spades
  • River: 10 spades

After the turn, your opponent has three of fives. On the river you can make a flush with 5, 3, 5, 8 and 9 of spades. You win the round because the flush is stronger than three of a kind.

Games 2

Preflop and flop

  • Your cards: 9 of hearts and 10 of spades
  • Opponent's cards: Ace of diamonds and Jack of diamonds.
  • Community cards: 10 hearts, 9 diamonds and 2 diamonds.

You take the lead with two pairs. Your opponent doesn't have any matching cards.

Turn and River

  • Rotation: 4 diamonds
  • River: 9 clubs

After 4 diamonds are dealt, your opponent has a flush, so at this point he takes the lead. When the 9 of clubs is dealt, you have a pair of 10s and three 9s, making a full house. If a full house beats a flush, you win the round.

Game 3 (four players)

When playing online, you will rarely be playing against only 1 opponent. Here are examples where you have to play against 3 other players. They will be called Players A, B and C.

Preflop and flop

  • Your cards: 10 clubs and 10 hearts
  • Player A's cards: 5 hearts and 5 diamonds.
  • Player B's cards: Ace of diamonds and 4 clubs.
  • Player C's cards: 8 of spades and 3 of spades.
  • Common cards: 10 of spades, 9 of diamonds and 2 of spades.

You have a pair of 10s after the flop is dealt. Player A has a pair of fives, B and C don't even have a pair. You win with a pair and then with a 5 high card.

Turn and River

  • Turn: 5 of spades
  • River: 9 spades

Player A has a three after the turn is dealt. You still only have a pair, and B and C still have nothing. After the 9th of spades is dealt, Player C has a flush. The round ends and Player C wins with a flush.

Game 4 (four players)

Preflop and flop

  • Your cards: 7 of spades and 10 of spades
  • Player A's cards: Queen of Diamonds and Three of Hearts.
  • Player B's cards: 8 clubs and jack of hearts.
  • Player C's cards: 4 clubs and 7 hearts.
  • Community cards: 5 of hearts, 6 of spades and 3 of spades.

Player A has a pair of threes, B has nothing, C has a straight, and you have nothing. While C is in the lead with a straight.

Turn and River

  • Turn: Jack of Diamonds
  • River: 9 spades

After the turn is dealt, A still has a pair of threes, B has a pair of jacks, and C still has a straight. You don't even have a pair. After dealing 3 of spades, you can make a flush with 9, 3, 6, 7 and 9 of spades. You win because the flush beats the straight.


What if I can form a 6 card straight?

You can form a 6-hand straight between 5 community cards and 2 of your hole cards. However, it will not be considered a "big straight" or better than another straight. In standard poker games, you can only form hands with 5 cards.

What happens with probability if there is more than one deck?

Generally, poker is a single-deck game. If you go to a casino and there are two decks at the table, it's because the dealer switches decks at some point. Unless otherwise stated, the game will be played with one deck, so all probabilities are equal. There may be games where two decks are used, but then the probabilities will be completely different.

Are the hands (and rankings) the same in all variants of poker?

Yes, unless it's a special variant with different rules. You may find games that do not include certain cards or have special rules for certain hands. This will change the probability of each hand, so you should change your strategy accordingly. However, for the most part, hands and their ranking are the same in standard poker games.

Are there 5 card hands in Omaha poker?

In Omaha poker, you are dealt 4 hole cards instead of 2. The game still requires players to form the best 5 card hand, only they can use any 2 of the 4 cards they are dealt. You don't need to form 6 or 7 card hands.

Can I learn poker hands by playing video poker?

You can, but it's not recommended. Video poker is very different from poker because you are basically betting on what cards the dealer will draw. Most video poker games include poker hands. For example, there may be games with large payouts for a full house or a royal flush. However, it is usually better to separate video poker from classic poker.


The best way to learn poker hands by heart is to either watch the games or play them. They are not too difficult to pick up and you will soon be able to recognize them. The challenge is taking into account the different hands and probabilities in your game.

To begin with, it is always better to play free poker games or games with very low stakes. Try to stay at the same table longer so you can get to know your opponents better. You'll soon form your own strategies and then enjoy playing in big tournaments against advanced players.