Your Ultimate Guide to Poker Hands

Poker is, without a doubt, the most popular card game in the world. Movies and TV shows might often make it seem like poker is a classic game of chance, where luck plays the leading role. However, every poker player will tell you that being successful in the game requires quite a bit of knowledge and skill. 

Speaking of knowledge and skill, we must talk about poker hands, as a vital part of this evergreen game. Learning a thing or two about poker hands can make a significant impact on your overall success in poker.

For this reason, we decided to create this ultimate poker hands guide for our fellow poker lovers. The article will cover several key points when it comes to poker hands:

  • Poker hands ranking
  • Detailed explanation of each poker hand
  • Poker hands chart for beginners
  • Poker hands probability and percentage
  • Texas Hold’em starting hands
  • Poker hands you should always fold

If you’re up for giving your poker skills a boost, keep reading this guide!

Poker Hands Ranked From Highest to Lowest

Before you even start your poker adventure, it would be a good idea to learn and memorize the ranking of poker hands. Of course, if you are playing online poker, you can always have the ranking chart handy in a separate tab, but having it in your mind makes the whole process of playing much easier and enables you to act on your hand more quickly.

After all, if you’re into poker, memorizing the poker hands ranking shouldn’t be a big deal, primarily because you’re probably already familiar with most of it. By following this guide while playing a few experimental hands, you will learn them all by heart and notably improve your poker game.

Without further ado, let’s take a quick look at the chart!

Hand nameExampleDefinition
Royal FlushA♠ – K♠ – Q♠ – J♠ – 10♠Five of the highest-ranked cards of the same suit in a sequence
Straight Flush5♦ – 6♦– 7♦ –  8♦ – 9♦Five cards of the same suit in a sequence
Four of a KindQ♥ – Q♣ – Q♠ – Q♦ – X  Four cards of the same rank
Full HouseJ♣ – J♠ – J♥ – 10♠ – 10♥Three of a kind and a pair
Flush3♣ – 5♣ – 7♣ – 10♣ – A♣Any five cards of the same suit
Straight5♠ – 6♣ – 7♥ – 8♦ – 9♦Any five cards in a sequence
Three of a KindQ♣ – Q♠ – Q♥ – X – XThree cards of the same rank
Two PairK♣ – K♠ – Q♠ – Q♥ – XTwo pairs of cards of the same rank
PairA♣ – A♠ – X – X – XA pair of cards of the same rank
High CardIf no player at the table has a winning hand, the one with the highest card wins the pot.

This is a chart you can use when practicing until you become 100% sure of your knowledge. 

Now that you are aware of the poker hands order, we are going to give you a detailed explanation for each of them.

Poker Hands Explained

Poker is a game in which anything can happen. Even if you initially get promising cards, there’s no guarantee that you are going to win. What is more, some of the luckiest hands in competitive poker history started bad and turned out to be winning hands thanks to players’ right decisions. 

Before you start developing a strategy for playing poker, it would be best to gather all the information about the strongest hands in poker and the way they are put together.

Royal Flush

Although some people like to save the best for last, we’ll do the opposite and start with the most sought-after hand in poker — Royal Flush. Logically, this being the most desired hand stems from the fact that it is the hardest to come by. 

A Royal Flush is a combination of a Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of the same suit. If you get this, feel free to start celebrating as this is an unbeatable combination. Yes, it is theoretically possible for two players to get a Royal Flush, but it almost never happens. In case this does happen, the players split the pot as no particular suit can have an advantage over another.

Straight Flush

The Straight Flush is the second-best among the hands of poker. It consists of any straight of the same suit except the Royal Flush. Your starting hand leading into a Straight Flush might seem disappointing. You might get, for instance, a Six and Seven of the same suit. 

Nevertheless, experienced players know that low cards of the same suit can easily turn into a winning hand with a bit of luck down the line.

Four of a Kind

The Four of a Kind is quite self-explanatory — it simply comes down to having four cards of the same rank in your hand. This leaves the fifth card, called the Kicker. If two or more players have a Four of a Kind hand, the winner will be the one whose hand has the highest value. However, if two players have a Four of a Kind of the same rank, it’s the Kicker’s time to shine, meaning that the player with the highest Kicker wins the pot.

Full House

A combination of three cards of the same rank and one pair is known as a Full House. This combination can consist of cards of any rank, but if there’s a tie, the winner is the player that holds the highest three matching cards. If these are the same, the pairs step up to fight for the prize.


A Flush is a hand consisting of five cards of the same suit. The order of the cards is irrelevant in this case. If you and someone else both have a Flush, your highest card will stand against their highest card in order to determine the winner. 

It can also happen that both of you have the same highest card in which case your second-highest card will be in the spotlight. If it’s still a tie, you guessed it— your third-highest, fourth-highest, and ultimately, the fifth-highest card will be used to decide the winner.


If you end up having five cards of different suits in a sequence, you’ve got a Straight. With this combination, players have the freedom to decide whether the Ace will be taking the place of the highest or lowest card depending on the ranks of the remaining four cards. Naturally, if there’s a tie, the highest straight wins.

Three of a Kind

Again, a hand that’s easy to deduce from its name — you’ve got a Three of a Kind when you’re holding three cards of the same rank in your hand. As this is a hand you’ll frequently see in the game of poker, a tie should come as no surprise. In that case, better hope your Three of a Kind is of a higher value than your opponents’, as that’s the criterion that determines the winner.

Two Pair

You can probably guess the elements of a Two Pair hand as the name is pretty self-explanatory — you should have a pair of the same rank and another pair of another rank. When there’s a dead heat, whoever owns the strongest first pair will take the prize. As you can probably guess, if you’ve got the same first pair, the other pair will be taken into consideration. If the situation is still unresolved after that, the kickers step in to break the tie.

One Pair

There’s probably no need to explain this hand but let’s mention it anyway. So, when you have One Pair, it means that you have two cards of the same rank. It’s quite common that multiple players at the table have One Pair, in which case the highest pair wins the pot. Should they be of the same rank, the highest rank of the remaining three cards wins the pot.

High Card

If you find yourself hopelessly scouting through the chart we provided above and cannot spot the combination of cards you’re holding in your hands, it means that you probably only have a High Card. The only thing you can do in this situation is hope that the other players have nothing either.

Poker Hands Chart for Beginners 

If you are a complete beginner when it comes to poker, memorizing all the things we’ve talked about so far can be slightly overwhelming. Don’t worry, as we are also going to provide a tool for remembering poker hands for beginners — the starting hand chart.

The starting hand chart you can see below represents the hands you should play from specific positions according to some mathematical and statistical calculations. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should always stick to this chart to the letter.

Simply think of this chart as a basic guide you can use while playing poker for fun until you begin to see the different possibilities of how the game might develop. After some practice, you will be able to assess each situation individually and decide whether you will follow the chart or not.

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Now, to avoid any possible confusion, let’s clarify one thing first — position represents your seat at the poker table in relation to the dealer. Poker experts consider position to be crucial for a successful poker game as it determines when it is your time to act.

The later your position is, the better your chances are of making the right choice, as you will have an insight into the other players’ moves. According to the poker hands chart we have provided in this text, you can see what hands you can rely on before the flop regardless of your position, as well as the ones you should play from a middle or late position.

As you can see from the chart, there’s no mention of an early position. This is a position from which the player is the first one to act, and it’s the most difficult one to handle. When it’s your turn to play from the early position, keep playing only if you have a really strong starting hand such as are the ones marked green.

The later the position, the better your chances to experiment. You should still be careful from a middle position, while being among players who act last gives you advantage over the ones that already acted.

Don’t forget that this is only an interpretation of how poker hands should be played. Also bear in mind that there’s no way someone can give you the exact steps you should take in every situation as every round is different. Therefore, feel free to use this guide, but remember to also include your personal power of deduction based on the current situation at the table.

Poker Hands Probability and Percentage

In a game of poker, everything is about math. The game is such that you can calculate poker hands probability and know from the start if you stand a chance to win. Of course, you need to be aware of the fact that the situation at a poker table changes every time any of the players makes a move.

In other words, calculating the probability of winning in every poker situation requires a bit more math than most of us can do in such a short timespan. However, you can always calculate the winning probability based on your initial two cards. The chart below shows the poker hands percentages of winning a hand according to your starting cards.

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Thanks to this chart, you can instantly decide to either fold your hand or wait for the flop. By scanning all the percentages, we can conclude that you can feel free to bet on poker hands with odds above 70% regardless of the circumstances.

This chart can be used for many poker variations, but we decided to focus on the one which is best-known worldwide — Texas Hold’em.

Best Texas Hold’em Starting Hands

Texas Hold’em is probably the most-played poker variant the world over. At the start, each player is dealt two face-down cards no one else can see. Based on these two cards, players need to decide whether they will keep playing or fold.

This is called the pre-flop betting round, and it is the hardest but most significant moment in Texas Hold’em. Yet, you have nothing to worry about as we are going to give you straightforward guidelines regarding the best Texas Hold’em hands to start with.

  • Pocket Aces — A pair of Aces is, by far, the strongest starting hand in Texas Hold’em. Aces won’t appear in your hands that often, so if you get a pair of them as your starting hand, consider it a green light to play big. A useful fact — their winning potential is bigger when fewer players enter the pot.
  • Pocket Kings — The runner-up starting hand, also called the cowboys, consists of a pair of Kings. These guys will bring you money against any hand other than a pair of Aces. This is definitely a good hand to keep, so don’t bother thinking too much and just go with the flow.
  • Pocket Queens — Many Texas Hold’em rank books keep Pocket Queens high on the list of playable pocket cards. However, all of them advise that you play this hand strong at the beginning, but pump the brakes if the flop doesn’t go your way.
  • Ace-King Suited — From this moment on, the situation becomes difficult as the remaining combinations are always a cause for debate. The most recent data shows that the sequence of high-value pairs should be interrupted with the combination of the Ace-King suited. This starting hand will make you feel like you’ve pulled out the big guns right from the start. Although it offers the potential for a Royal Flush, it won’t take you anywhere if the community cards turn out to be off-suit.
  • Pocket Jacks — Another high-card pair that can be beaten by several stronger combinations is still a better hand than any unpaired or lower pocket hand. If you are in a late position and no player before you has decided to raise the pot, chances are you’ve got the winning hand.
  • Pocket Tens — Pocket tens are in the middle of the action and considered a good starting hand by many. Raising pre-flop is a good idea when holding this pair if you notice that other players have no intention of doing so.
  • Ace-Queen Suited — If you’ve got Ace-Queen Suited, there’s a number of possibilities for the hand to develop to your advantage. There’s only one gap, and the cards are suited, which makes it a perfect hand to keep. You can visualize a Straight or Flush, or even a Royal Flush. Ultimately, if none of it happens, there’s a High Card to count on.
  • Ace-King Offsuit — The different suits decrease this hand’s chances of winning, but it leaves Ace-King Offsuit on our top-10 list as there are still not too many hands that can beat it. This combination has an advantage of around 40% compared to any hand lower than Aces and Kings according to statistics.
  • Ace-Jack Suited — Just like other suited combinations such as Ace-King or Ace-Queen, this hand rates highly due to its potential to turn into a Royal Flush. However, always take your position into consideration before playing Ace-Jack Suited.
  • King-Queen Suited — Last but not least, there’s King-Queen Suited, which is a solid base for a winning hand but also often folded by professionals after players in early positions raise the pot. All in all, always be careful when holding this starting combination.

Poker Hands You Should Fold

Remember, the decision which starting hand to play is crucial for the way everything is going to play out in the end. No matter how good of a player you are, there are some poker hands you should never play, simply because they have very little potential to end up being the winning ones.

Just like there are great starting hands every player hopes for, almost 50% of the time, you’ll be dealt a starting hand that can lead you nowhere. Playing such hands is considered a complete waste of chips if we are to trust statistical calculations.

So, unless you have a strong pair or any of the above-mentioned favourable combinations, in order to accurately determine which poker hands not to play, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Is there a potential connection between these two cards?
  2. Are these two cards of the same suit?

If the two cards you’re holding are not consecutive and have a gap in rank of more than one card between them, the probability to get a straight is quite low. Also, if the cards don’t belong to the same suit, you have no chance to hit a flush. In other words, choosing to play with two completely random starting cards would mean that you hope for a miracle to happen.

Players often make a mistake and decide to bet on hands known as false friends. These are starting hands like K♠ – 9♦ that might look great at first sight, but have no big winning potential in the long run.

Apart from false friends, poker experts say that random combinations with low cards are hands to always fold. Doing so will save you a lot of money and nerves and get you ready to go through any of the potentially winning hands to come.

Why Is it Important to Memorize Poker Hands?

After a long and detailed examination of poker hands, we’ve come to the end of this guide. We hope you’ve understood the essentials of the poker hands rank system and got some ideas for your next poker night. 

The only thing left to do is memorize these tips we’ve shared so you can make good decisions within seconds and outsmart all the other players. We wish you luck in your future poker endeavours and don’t forget to play responsibly!