Ultimate Guide to Poker Hand Ranking – Poker hands from highest to lowest
Poker players often argue whether poker is a game of skill or a game of luck. If you are a complete novice who is only familiar with the basic rules, you will think that luck is necessary to win in this game.
However, professional poker players swear that developing certain skills, for example poker hand ranking, can help you much more than any talisman.
I agree with poker pros about the skill factor in real money poker, which is why you are reading this guide right now.
For all of you who are still making baby steps in poker, this in-depth guide is there to help you learn the necessary things to accelerate your journey. You will get the information on:
Once you go through the text, you will find the list of frequently asked questions with the straight-to-the-point answers. Therefore, if you are ready to learn all about poker hand ranking and get launched to the stars of the poker world, let’s begin.
What Makes Poker a Game of Skill?
It is a common belief that poker is a game of luck and not a game of skill. At the end of the day, poker is available in every casino, be it a land-based or an online one, among all other games for which winning is purely based on luck.
Yet, the issue was reconsidered many times, until a federal judge from Brooklyn, Jack B. Weinstein, described the one who wins at poker as “the player who could guess his opponents’ intentions and disguise his own, make calculated decisions on when to hold and fold, and quickly decide how much to wager.”
Undoubtedly, poker differs from other games like slots, roulette, bingo and various lotteries in this aspect, as well as many others that I mentioned below.
You Play Against Humans, Not Machines
Whenever experts analyze an outcome of a specific situation, the final thoughts always lead to the human factor. Regardless of the area of expertise, if poker players are in charge of a particular action, they carry the greatest responsibility.
You might wonder how this can be applied to poker, but you are about to find out that the explanation is, indeed, pretty simple. When you play slots, your opponent is a machine. Machines are easy to program and do not have the ability to think on their own.
They use programs like the Random Number Generator (RNG) to determine who is going home with pockets full of money. That’s why slots are completely based on luck and, unless the day you visit a casino is your lucky day, there’s no chance you will win any cash by playing slots.
On the other hand, when you play poker, your opponents are other humans. There’s no machine that is programmed to sabotage your game and pre-determine the winner.
Also, poker is one of the rare games where the house doesn’t have much influence. The house does collect the money from cash game pots and buy-ins, but it does not compete against players.
Therefore, you are facing flesh-and-blood competitors like yourself who are prone to making mistakes. After all, the trial-and-error system has been used for years in order to come up with some of the greatest inventions in history.
In other words, your opponents are humans who use their own head or luck to win at this game, which you can do as well. This is why you should go through this guide and learn some poker tips and tricks that will give you a significant advantage over most of the novice players you will come across.
Good Math Skills Make You Good at Poker
Math and casino games have more in common than you think. What is more, casinos often hire brilliant math graduates to carefully examine the establishment’s operation and help the house get more than a fair share of profit.
Likewise, if you are good at math, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to use these skills to win some money in poker.
There’s no need to be a genius, as even simple math rules will help if used correctly. You make decisions based on the hand you’ve got and the cards you see on the table. Since you cannot see other players’s cards, you need to calculate the odds of your hand and play accordingly.
Let’s assume that you are familiar with the pack of cards and the poker hand ranking system. You hold two cards and have five more on the table. Once you decide what is the best combination out of all the cards you can use, you can move on to calculating the odds.
Obviously, no one else can have the cards you’ve got, and this is where you start from when shaping possible outcomes of the round. Sometimes it is easy to determine if your hand is the strongest one, while some hands might be tricky.
When you have a strong hand, rely on math and don’t hesitate to invest more. If your hand is not that great, do not put a lot of money on the table. Don’t forget that you can always fold if you evaluate that your chances to win are close to zero.
Also, surprises might occur at any point while you are focused on the great cards you’ve been dealt. It is possible that, sometimes, you have a strong hand mathematically, but you still lose in the end. Don’t get disappointed and keep using your strategy because it will pay off in the long run.
Bluffing and Body Language
One more thing you should always have in mind when you play poker is that players have the ability to control their body language and facial expressions. In real life, this is called acting, but in poker, we call it a bluff.
Even regular poker players who are already familiar with bluffing can be deceived from time to time. Bluff can help you win even if your chances are statistically pretty low based on your hand. However, in order to successfully bluff, you need to practice a lot and be absolutely aware of your moves and expressions.
There are many things that can reveal a bluff. One of them is a body language that needs to be perfectly controlled in order for a bluff to work. When a player decides to bluff for the first time, there will be some signs that can reveal their intentions to others. The most usual ones are heavy sweating and frequent movements with little eye contact.
The time a player takes to make a decision can also tell you that they are bluffing. When a player invests a lot after thinking too much but still doesn’t go all-in, it can mean that they are just trying to scare you off.
The time of placing a bet is also connected to the size of a bet. If a player doesn’t want to fold or go all in, then the quality of cards that the player is holding is probably average because you don’t need to think a lot if they hold extremely good or bad cards.
All in all, apart from concentrating on the cards you hold and the ones on the table, you need to take into consideration all the other aspects of the game, including other players and their behaviour.
Poker Hands Ranked from Highest to Lowest
In a game of poker, impossible can happen. You can have a strong pair but ultimately lose from someone who initially got a badly-dealt hand. Before you start developing a strategy for playing poker, you need to memorize poker hand rankings by heart.
Royal Flush represents the best possible outcome in poker, and is, consequently, the hardest one to hit. If you get the combination of a 10, J , Q , K and A of the same suit, consider yourself extremely lucky, as this combination is unbeatable.
It is highly unlikely for two players to get the Royal Flush, but if they do, no specific suit has an advantage, and the winners split the pot.
The runner-up hand is the Straight Flush. It consists of any straight of the same suit lower than the Royal Flush.
This is one of those hands that might seem useless at the beginning when, for example, you get a 5and 6 of the same suit. However, you can end up winning that round if the cards on the table are a 7 , 8 and 9 of the suit you already have in your hands.
Four of a Kind
The next hand in line is called “Four of a Kind”, where the name is self-explanatory. You have four cards of the same value for example A, A , A and A , plus one more card known as the kicker for example, 9 .
Logically, when two or more players have this hand, the one with the highest value wins. The kicker is used in situations when two players have Four of a Kind of the same rank. In that case, the player with the higher kicker takes all the money.
Full House is a hand where you’ve got a combination of three cards of the same rank for example Q, Q , Q and one pair of a different rank for example J and J .
It can be comprised of cards of any rank, but in the event of a tie, the highest three matching cards are the winning hand.
To get a Flush, it is necessary to have five cards of the same suit. They don’t need to be in consecutive order or to include the highest cards for example A, J , 9 , 6 and 3 .
Yet, it is possible that someone else might have a flush as well, in which case the suit won’t matter at all. What will matter is your highest card and, if it’s still a tie, the second-highest, third-highest, fourth-highest, and fifth-highest card.
Straight stands right behind the Flush and features any five cards in consecutive order, regardless of the suit for example 5, 6 , 7 , 8 and 9 .
A player can decide whether an Ace will be perceived as a high or a low card, depending on the combination of other cards. The highest possible straight is victorious in the case of a tie.
Three of a Kind
When you’ve got three cards of the same rank, you have three of a kind for example 2, 2 and 2 . Although this is not the most desirable hand one could get, it can bring you some money in rounds where no one seems to be lucky enough and get better cards.
The best Three-of-a-Kind is the one with Aces, and it becomes less powerful as the rank goes down.
Two Pair hand does not require further explanation, but to be on the safe side, I will still give you one. This is a hand in which you have a pair of cards belonging to the same rank, as well as another pair of cards of another rank for example A, A , K and K .
When someone else playing at your table also has this hand, whoever has the strongest first pair will win. If, by any chance, you’ve got the same pair, then the other pair jumps in to assist you. If you have a higher second pair, you win. However, if you are one the same page, then the fifth card determines the winner.
One Pair is, simply put, a pair of cards of the same rank for example Aand A . The highest pair wins in a situation where another person also has one pair.
If the rank of the pairs is the same, the highest side card brings money home. When the first kicker is the same as well, the second one, and even the third one might become the one.
Whatever you’ve got and cannot find on the list provided above falls under the category known as a High Card for example, you get a 5, 6 , J , Q and A .
Many would say that this hand basically means you have nothing to bet on, but if other players are as unlucky as you are, good high cards can be beneficial.
Poker Hand Ranking Calculator
This guide is probably unnecessary to all the poker pros who are in need of some more advanced tips and tricks. Yet for all of you who still struggle to decide whether you have a chance to win a round, there’s a surprise.
The first thing I would like to mention is that practice makes perfect. The more you play, the better you will get as time goes by. However, your bank account would agree that it would be much better to practice without investing real money, at least it the beginning.
Nowadays, many online casinos offer demo versions of the majority of their games, including poker. This allows you to play a game for some time until you are confident enough to play against real players and put some money in the picture.
Another great option that you can use to master poker hand rankings is a poker hand ranking calculator. Plenty of them can be found online, and they are very simple to use. You can type in all the information you have regarding your cards and, if you are playing amateur poker at home, the cards of your opponents. The calculator will check all the combinations and let you know if your decision was the right one.
Playing poker just for fun is great, but if you are interested in some real money, you need to put in some effort. Learning poker hand ranking is not as hard as it might seem at the beginning, and with little practice, it can take you a long way.
Once you go through all the poker hands, you will see that poker really is a game of skill. I hope that you found this article useful and easy to comprehend. In case you have any further questions, you can proceed to the FAQ section, or write it down in the comment section below. If not, I wish you lots of luck in your future poker games.