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POKER HAND HIERARCHY


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The game of poker, although with a simple structure and a clear set of rules, has many intricate aspects, a fact that allows the human factor to express itself a lot during the game, making it a very attractive and exciting game and probably the reason why poker is so appreciated by millions of players around the world, playing both, online and in brick-and-mortar casinos. In this BonusBonusBonus article you will find a lot of useful information about an essential element of the game: THE CARDS. Throughout the history, gaming cards suffered a lot of changes in their appearance and in their number. But we will not bore you with a history lesson… Suffice to say that it is believed they appeared for the first time in Europe during the 14th century. In the present day, all land based casinos and online poker rooms (such as William Hill Poker) are using a single deck of 52 cards: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jacks, Queens, Kings and Aces (Aces are the only cards that can assume two values - an ace can play as the highest card or it can have the lowest value - 1).

There are four different suits in each deck of cards: Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Spades. The suit of the cards makes no difference in any poker variants (the King of Hearts has the same value as the King of Clubs etc.). Although there are many poker variations, each with different sets of rules, every poker hand is always made up from a combination of five cards and the hands are ranked in categories according to their value using a standard system that is based on the probability of a particular hand being randomly dealt. Usually, the game is won by the highest ranking card, but in some variations the lowest card wins. In both situations, the game may end in a tie if two or more players have the same hand value; if this is the case the pot is split between them (as we have mentioned earlier, the suit of the cards makes no importance in differentiating two hands of the same value). A hand’s value is not affected by the order of the cards. For example A♠ A♦ K♦ Q♥ J♣ has exactly the same value as K♦ J♣ A♦ Q♥ A♠.

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Hand categories and their probabilities

Below you will find all the poker hand categories listed from the most valuable to the lowest, along with a brief description; we have also done some calculations in order to offer you an accurate idea about the probability of being dealt such a hand in the game of Texas Hold’em:

Royal Flush

The most valuable hand in poker consists of the following sequence of cards:

Royal-Flush_216x64

The best hand of all! A Royal Flush is a sequence of five suited cards with the ace as high card. No other hand can beat a Royal Flush and even if there are 4 different possibilities - one for each suit, during a hand of Texas Hold’em there is only one player that can make this particular combination of cards. The chances of getting a Royal Flush are 0.0032% (or if you prefer odds - 30,939:1). Example: T-J-Q-K-A of spades

 

Straight Flush

The second best hand, the Straight Flush, consists of five consecutive cards of the same suit (a combination of a straight and a flush). 

Straight-Flush_216x64

A word of caution: if you are lucky enough to make a straight flush be mindful of the community cards as you can still lose (it’s not called “the second best” for nothing). For example, there is the possibility that one player can make a straight flush holding 8♣9♣ and another player with A♣K♣ will have a Royal Flush on a 10♣J♣Q♣27 board. There is a probability of 0.0279% to make a straight flush (3590:1). Example: 2-3-4-5-6 of hearts.


Four of a Kind

The name Four of a Kind is pretty self-explanatory: the hand is made of four cards of the same rank (e.g. 88♣88♠) plus the highest valued card either held by the player or from the community cards.  

Four-of-a-Kind_216x64

If two players manage to form quads in the same round of play, the one with the higher card ranking wins the pot (four of a kind 10s defeats four of a kind 5s). If two or more players have the same quad (which is entirely possible, especially when all of the four cards are community cards), the one with the higher kicker wins the pot. The chances of landing quads in a hand of Hold’em are about 0.168% (594:1 odds). Example: K-K-K-K-A


Full House

Also known as a “full boat” or just “boat”, a Full House is a hand that consists of three matching cards of one rank (e.g. QQ♣Q) and two other cards of the same rank (e.g. 10♠10). 

Full-House_216x64

The rule by which a full house is read is: “Three full of Pair” or “Three over Pair”. In our example, the full house reads as “Queens Full of Tens” or “Queens over Tens”. If more than one player has a full house, the one who has the higher ranking three cards wins (a K♠KK♦1010♠ defeats a JJ♣J♠AA♣). If two hands have the same three cards, the winner is the one who has the higher pair (the two other cards that form the full house) - QQ♣Q♠8♥8 is better than QQ♣Q♠3♥3. The probability of being dealt a full house is about 2.60% (38.5:1). Example: Q-Q-Q-T-T


Flush

A Flush is a hand that denotes five cards of the same suit but not in sequence.

Flush_216x64

A flush is named after the highest card among the five - in our example we have a “queen-high flush” and K8JQ4 is a “king-high flush”. If there are more players that made a flush, the one with the highest ranking card wins the pot. If the highest card is a community card, the second high card is compared and so on until a difference is established. There is a 3.03% probability of receiving a flush (33:1 odds). Example: 2-5-8-T-Q of clubs.


Straight

A Straight is represented by five consecutive cards, but at least two of the cards must have different suits. 

Straight_216x64

A straight is named after its highest card: in our example “Nine high straight” or “Straight to the nine”. In a straight the Ace can serve as high card, as in AK♣QJ10♠ (a hand also known as “Broadway”) or as low card (assuming the value of 1) - A♠23♠4♣5 (referred to by poker players as “The Wheel”). If more players have a straight at the same time, the one who has the highest card wins. If they have the same highest card (no matter of the suit it has), they split the spot. Hitting a straight in a hand of Hold’em has a 4.62% probability (21.6:1 odds). Example: 5-6-7-8-9 of any suit.


Three of a Kind

This is a hand that contains three cards of the same rank plus two other random cards of different ranks. 

Three-of-a-Kind_216x64

In poker slang it is also called “Trips” when is made by one card from the player’s pocket cards and two community cards or “Set” - pocket pair + a community card. When two players have “Three of a kind”, the higher valued card wins - J♣JJ6♠7 defeats 8♣88A♣Q. The kicker makes the difference when two or more players have the same “Three of a kind”. There is a 4.83% probability of making this hand (20.7:1 odds).Example: J-J-J-7-4


Two Pairs

This category includes any poker hand that contains two cards of the same rank and another two matching cards of a different rank than the first two, plus a fifth random card not of the same rank as any of the pairs.

Two-Pairs_216x64

The hand is described by the higher pair first, followed by the lower pair (sometimes this is not necessary). As in our example: “Tens over Fives”, “Tens and Fives” or simply “Tens up”. The higher top pair wins the game. If more players have the same top pair, the more valuable lower pair decides the winner. In the case both players have the same two Pairs, the higher kicker (the 5th card) makes the difference. There a 23.5% probability to make a Two Pair (4.26:1 odds). Example: T-T-5-5-2


One Pair

Under this name are represented any hands that contain two cards of the same rank and an additional three other random cards of different ranks is called One Pair. 

One-Pair_216x64

When two or more players have a pair at showdown, the higher pair wins. If they have the same pair, the other three cards in their hand (kickers) are compared in descending order to decide the winner. Having a pair at the end of the hand has a 43.8 % probability (2.28:1 odds).


High Card

This is a hand that is made of any five random cards. Basically, no hand is made since none of the requirements mentioned above are met. 

High-Card_216x64
 
These types of hands are described by the highest card - e.g. “ace high” or, in case two players have the same high card at showdown, the next cards are taken into consideration, in descending order (“ace-queen high”, “ace-ten high” and so on). Having no pair has a probability of 17.4% (5.74:1 odds).

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