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Beginner Guide: Which Poker Hand Is The Best?

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Does full house beat straight,or the other way around? Many play poker all year round (and especially at Christmas) for fun. You’ll probably need a brief guide with all the poker hands (showing which beats what), so you don’t come across as an amateur. In this article, we’ll walk you through all sorts of scenarios you’ll face whether playing online or sitting at a table with others.

Things to keep in mind

Before diving into the game it’s wise to read through the bullet points which will help you get the hang of the poker basic rules. 

  • Each player is given two cards 
  • Five cards will be drawn on the table 
  • The player with the hand that beats all others’ hands wins the pot 

Which poker hand wins in order

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • Four-of-a-Kind (aka ‘quads”)
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three-of-a-Kind (aka a “set” or “trips”)
  • Two Pair
  • One Pair
  • High Card

Royal flush

A♥️, K♥️, Q♥️, J♥️, 10♥️

If you get a royal flush – well done you – you beat every other poker hand at the table and win the pot. Royal flush is when you get Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of the same suit. 

It’s pretty rare to see this combo – it’s only 1 in 30,940 to get it – unless you play with James Bond. 

In case someone else has the same hand – rarely happens – the pot will be split between you two. But seeing one royal flush on the table (1 in 30,940)  is extremely rare, let alone two. Unless you sit at the same table with James Bond. 

Straight flush

10♣️, 9♣️, 8♣️, 7♣️, 6♣️

This is the second strongest hand and it’s still pretty rare to get it or even see another player get it. A 10,9,8,7 and 6 all in the same suit will do the job for you.

In case someone else also has a straight flush – which is going to be once in a blue moon – the folk with the higher straight flush wins the pot. Say 8♣️, 7♣️, 6♣️ are drawn on the table some player holds 5♣️ and 4♣️, your 10♣️ and 9♣️ is a better hand, allowing you to win the round and the pot.  

Four of a kind (quads)

J♠️,J♣️,J♥️,J♦️

Four of a kind, or quads, is self-explanatory: you need four cards of the same rank and it’s a pretty great hand to win the round, unless James Bond turns up. Obviously the higher the rank the better – a A♠️, A♣️, A♥️,A♦️ combo is better than 7♠️,7♣️,7♥️,7♦️

Before going full in, it’s wise to think about all the cards that have been drawn and the table and possible combos that might beat your hand. A quick analysis will be key to whether it’s worth risking it or playing safe.  

Full house

9♣️, 9♥️, 9♦️, 8♠️, 8♥️

That’s a great hand to have, with three of a kind and a pair. Are you gonna win the round? 

It all depends on the cards that have been drawn on the table and of course the cards you hold. In the above example it’s so much better having two  9s in your hand than the 8s pair. 

Before bidding big, It’s a good idea to weigh up your options and really mull over the chances of winning the round.

Flush 

4♣️, 2♣️, 9♣️, J♣️, 8♣️

The above is a Jack-high-hand, having five hands of the same suit. What are the cards you hold? It’s a good sign if you hold the J♣️ which is the highest rank card, allowing you to bid high, but you need to hope and pray that no one (perhaps James Bond) has the 10♣️, and  7♣️ which is straight flush.

Straight

9♣️, 8♥️, 7♣️, 6♥️, 5♦️

Is it straight a good hand to go full in? Probably not, but it’s good enough to win a round, but nowhere near making you lose count of your chips. You get a straight when you get five cards of consecutive rank, but obviously the higher the straight the better.

Before bidding heavily think about the straight you have and the odds of others having a higher straight or a better hand. It’s not the best straight if  8♥️, 7♣️ and 6♥️ are on the table and you hold 4♣️ and 5♦️ – a 9♣️ and 10♦️ or even 9♣️ and 5♦️ are better straights. 

Three of a kind

9♣️, 9♥️, 9♦️

It’s a low hand, but before you dumb it, it’s clever to weigh up your options. It might not be the best hand, but it might be good enough to win the round. As we said above, it depends on your cards and what the other players hold.

If two of the 9♣️, 9♥️ are on the table and you hold the  9♦️, it isn’t as good as if you held a pair in your hand – you would have better chances to win the round, unless James Bond is still around. 

cards-jack-queen-king

Two Pair

Q♣️, Q♦️, 8♣️, 8♠️, 

It’s time you start thinking about bluffing more seriously. The hand you’ve got means that you either hold a pair (8♣️, 8♠️) and one on the table or hold cards (Q♦️, 8♣️) that match up two on the table – the second hand is better than the first. 

If you’re thinking about bluffing, be ready to dust off your acting skills and keep a dead face – or poker face if you prefer – so the other players won’t be able to read your thoughts and find out about bluffing. 

One Pair

Q♣️, Q♦️

This isn’t the best hand to have and James Bond never gets it. What you have is just a pair of Queens and obviously the higher the rank the better. Why not think about bluffing? Just show to everyone you’re great at poker – and acting – and you can bluff all the way to win the round.

High Card Poker Hand 

A♦️

If you just get high we wish you good luck – you’ll need it. In this case the higher card (and yes A♦️ is a higher rank than K♦️). This hand beats no other and your best tactic will be good old bluffing.

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