Poker Hand Rankings – Master The Best Texas Holdem Poker Hands
One of the first things you must learn when starting is poker hand rankings since you will not be able to play without knowing what beats what in poker.
This page is dedicated to breaking down the list of poker hands in order by strength and showing you how to evaluate your Texas Holdem holdings in various situations.
Grab your poker hands PDF, and keep reading to learn how to play all of it.
Poker Hand Rankings In Order
Firstly, let’s briefly go over the list of poker hands ranked in order from strongest to weakest according to the Texas Holdem rules, and then we will break down each of these hands one by one.
These are official Texas Holdem poker hand rankings:
#1. Royal Flush. Five highest cards of the same suit, like A♦ K♦ Q♦ J♦ T♦
#2. Straight Flush: Five lover cards in a row of the same suit, such as – J ♠ T♠ 9♠ 8♠ 7♠
#3. Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, like 9♠ 9♥ 9♦ 9♣ K♥
#4. Full House: Combination with three same cards and a pair, like A♥ A♦ A♣ 3♥ 3♣
#5. Flush: Five cards of the same suit that are not in a row, like K♣ T♣ 8♣ 7♣ 5♣
#6. Straight: Five cards in a row but bot with the same suit, like T♥ 9♦ 8♣ 7♣ 6♦
#7. Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank along with two random ones, like 7♥ 7♠ 7♣ Q♦ 3♠
#8. Two Pair: Combination with two different pairs, such as J♣ J♠ 5♣ 5♠ 7♣
#9. One Pair: Two cards with the same value and three random ones, like A♦ A♥ K♣ J♦ 7♥
#10. High Card: when there is no previous mention combination, and all cards are different, like K♥ Q♠ 8♣ 7♠ 2♦
Poker Hand: Royal Flush
In the list of strongest poker hands order, Royal Flush stands tall in the first place and can never lose against any holding.
There are only four different ways to make this poker hand:
- A♦ K♦ Q♦ J♦ T♦
- A♠ K♠ Q♠ J♠ T♠
- A♥ K♥ Q♥ J♥ T♥
- A♣ K♣ Q♣ J♣ T♣
Suits do not come in to play here, so if you wonder what is the best Royal Flush poker hand, you must know that all are equal in value.
While this hand is often portraited in the best poker movies, it is very rare in real games and if you are lucky enough to hit Royal Flush, do all you can to put your money in the middle since there is no way to lose.
Poker Hands Explained: Straight Flush
Straight Flush consists of five cards in a row with the same suit, and while it is the second strongest poker hand in order, it is basically an unbeatable combination.
It is worth mentioning that there are 40 different ways you can have it since you can make ten different combinations with each of the suits. Here are just a couple of examples:
- J♣ T♣ 9♣ 8♣ 7♣
- 9♦ 8♦ 7♦ 6♦ 5v
- 6♠ 5♠ 4♠ 3♠ 2♠
- A♥ 2♥ 3♥ 4♥ 5♥
The poker hand’s suit does not affect the value, so the most important thing when determining the winner is who has the higher combination.
So if you are wondering what beats a straight flush in poker, the answer is only a higher Straight Flush or a Royal Flush.
What can a Straight Flush beat? Well, all other holdings in the poker hand ranking list starting with four of a kind and going down all the way to a high card.
Poker Hands Explained: Four of a kind
As the name suggests, this is a very straightforward hand with four cards of the same rank as KKKKx, 7777x, etc.
It is also often referred to as Quads, so you will know that the player is talking about 4 of a kind combination when you hear this name.
While it is straightforward, it stands high in official poker hand rankings.
Does 4 of a kind beat a Full House? Yes. Does four of a kind beat flush and straight? Yes again.
This hand can only be beaten by Royal Flush and Straight Flush, so you will rarely lose when you have it. If you do, that will surely be a poker cooler to remember.
Of course, the strongest four of a kind hand is AAAAx, which beats all other holdings of the same type.
Poker Hands Explained: Full House
Full House is another powerful poker hand made of three cards of the same rang and a pair along with it. A couple of examples for this hand:
The best possible Full House is AAAKK, and it beats all other full houses and every holding that is ranked below it in Texas Holdem poker hand rankings.
Many new players have a common question: does a Full House beat a Flush and a Straight and the answer is YES, it beats both of these hands.
- If both players have a Full House, you need to compare a part with three cards to decide the winner. For example, JJJ88 wins against 999AA because J is higher than 9.
- If both players have the same value trips, you have to see who has the higher pair to decide the winner. 888KK wins against 88877.
- If both players have identical hands, like 777JJ vs. 777JJ, then the pot is divided equally.
This is one of the winning poker hands that will yield you a lot of money when played correctly, so do not be afraid to put your money in the middle when you have it.
Poker Hands Explained: Flush
Flush is one of the most intriguing poker hands in Texas Holdem, and a flush draw is one of the most common draws you will be trying to hit.
This hand is made of 5 cards of the same suit that are not in consecutive order, for example:
- K ♥ J ♥ 9 ♥ 6 ♥ 5 ♥
- Q ♣ 7 ♣ 6 ♣ 3 ♣ 2 ♣
- T ♦ 9 ♦ 6 ♦ 4 ♦ 3 ♦
- 8 ♠ 6 ♠ 4 ♠ 3 ♠ 2 ♠
If two or more players have a flush, then you have to compare the highest card in the combination to determine the winner. For example, K ♥ J ♥ 9 ♥ 6 ♥ 5 ♥ wins against Q ♣ 7 ♣ 6 ♣ 3 ♣ 2 ♣ because K is higher than a Q.
If the highest card is the same, you have to compare the second highest card and so on until you decide the winner or split the pot equally in case of identical hands.
When deciding your holding’s value, suits do not play any role and do not influence the poker hand’s strength.
When you have a flush in your hand, you should pay it aggressively, but it also depends on the community cards that are in the middle.
If there see four cards to a flush and you only hold a low card of the same suit to make this poker hand, then it is not very valuable, but if you have a high card or two cards of the same suit when there are only three cards open for everyone, you have a powerful holding.
Flush does not beat a Full House, but it surely beats Straight and all lower combinations in the poker hands rankings list.
Poker Hands Explained: Straight
Straight is made of five consecutive cards and can range anywhere from the highest possible combination of AKQJT to the lowest one of A2345, which is called a wheel.
Like with flush, to determine which straight is better, you have to compare the highest card in the combination, so QJT98 will win against 98765 since Q is higher than 9.
The only exception here is A2345 straight, where A is counted as a low card, making this the weakest possible straight combination.
Straight does not beat a Flush or a Full House, but it will help you take down many pots when played correctly.
Especially when you have a board where no Flush or Full house combinations are possible, most of the time, you can be fairly certain that you have the best hand.
Poker Hands Explained: Three of a kind
As the name suggests, this poker hand is made of three cards of the same rank and two other holdings. For example, AAAQ3 or 7779K.
While you can also hear the name of Trips or Sets, which represents the different way the hand is made in correlation to community cards and your holdings, it has the same value in Texas Holdem.
This hand is actually very strong, and most of the time can be well disguised, especially if you have a pocket pair as your starting hand and find the third card of the same rank within community cards.
Since three of a kind beats the most common hands, like one and two pairs, you will rake in many pots with this hand.
- Like most other hands, to decide the winner, you need to compare your tree cards’ rank so 777Q5 will win against 555AK because 7 is higher than 5.
- If both players have an identical three of a kind, then the kicker comes into play, and the winner is decided by it.
You need to keep in mind that the tree of a kind looses to Straight and Flush, so when there is a possibility of these holdings, you need to play it a bit more carefully.
However, if the board does not offer any way to make previously mentioned poker hands, you can treat your Trips almost as nuts, which is the best possible hand at the moment.
Poker Hands Explained: Two Pair
Another straightforward holding in this poker hands order is two pair hands, and it represents exactly two pairs.
There are many ways to make this hand in Texas Holdem, but it has the same value in the end.
If both players have two pair hand, then you need to determine the higher pair to announce the winner, and if both players hold the same one, then the lower pair.
For example, AA773 will win against QQJJ8, and KK997 wins against KK66A.
If both players have the same two pair hand, then the kicker comes into play, and the winner is determined based on the value of the extra card.
The strongest two pair hand you can have is AAKKQ, and the weakest one is 33224, but even with this hand, you can win many nice pots.
Poker Hands Explained: One Pair
One pair hand is the most common made hand from all possible combinations, so you will have it a lot of the time and take down many pots.
To be more precise, you will flop a pair around 29% of the time when you start with an unpaired hand and improve to at least one pair hand by the river around 42% of the time.
As you see, this is a hand you will quite often, so you should know how to play it.
That said, this is a hand you should not play too strongly if you face a lot of aggression, but like everything in Texas Holdem, it depends on your situation, your position at the table, and your opponents.
The best possible one-pair hand is AAxxx, the weakest is 22xxx, and there is a huge difference between them.
So while one pair ranks at the bottom of the poker hands order list, you should be able to win with this hand when played correctly.
Poker Hands Explained: High Card
The last in the poker hands list is the High Card hand, which is the worst holing you can have.
This means you do not qualify for any previously mentioned combination, so you only have unrelated cards that are not all of the same suit and are not in consecutive order.
While you can find some hero calls with hands like A-high, these are actually not the ones that will be making you money, so as a rule of thumb, you should be looking to get rid of these poker hands and wait for a better spot to win the pot.
As the name suggests, to determine your hand’s exact value and who is the winner in case both players have this hand, you need to compare the highest card. For example, AQ975 is called “Ace-High” and wins against KQJ98, which is only a “King-High” in this example.
High card combination does not beat anything else in poker, but you will miss the flop and have it most when you start with an unpaired hand 66.9% of the time.
Do not overplay these hands, and do not try to win by bluffing your opponents of the pot too often as Dan Bilzerian would try. Waiting for a better spot is often a wise and more profitable approach.
What Beats What In Poker: Ties and Kicker Explained
Now you know the order in which poker hands are ranked, but sometimes players will have a similar hand, so how do you determine the winner?
For the most part, this is a situation where the kicker comes into play.
If you are not sure what is a kicker in poker, let me break it down with an example since this is one of the poker tips you should know.
If two players have identical two pair hands, you have to compare the 5th card to decide the winner, and the player holding the higher card will win.
For example, if “Player A” has K K J J 7 and “Player B” holds K K J J 3, Player A will take down the pot because his kicker is higher (7 is higher than 3) despite having the same hand according to poker hand rankings.
The kicker comes into play in all situations where players hold the same hand, but the extra card can determine the winner.
In case that card is also the same, the pot is divided equally between players holding the same poker hand.
For example, if player A have K K K A J and player B also holds K K K A J, the pot will be split into two equal parts, and both of these players will get their half.
Despite the kicker, there are also some other rules you should be aware of for deciding the winner, so let’s break it down:
- One Pair Hands: When comparing one pair hands, the one with a higher pair will always win. QQxxx wins against 99xxx.
- One Pair Hands: If both players have the same one pair hand, then the highest non-paired card is compared to decide the winner. QQJ97 wins against QQT53. If both players have the same highest non-paired card, then the second card is compared, and if that is the same as well, then the third card. If the hand is identical, then players split the pot.
- Two Pair Hands: If both players have two pair hand, then the highest pair is compared to decide the winner, and if that is the same, you have to compare the second pair. For example, QQ22x wins against JJ99x, and JJ99x wins against JJ77x.
- Three Of A Kind Hands: When both players have three of a kind, the higher rank trips wins the hand. For example, 888xx wins against 666xx, and if both have the same combination, then the kicker comes into play.
- Straight Poker Hands: When both players have a straight, the straight starting with the highest card wins. For example, QJT98 wins against 98765, and if both players have the save rank straight, the pot is split between them.
- Flush Poker Hands: Flush rules for deciding the winner are similar to straight, and the player with the highest flush card wins the pot. QJ763 flush wins against J9872 flush. If all cards are the same, then the pot is divided between the players. Suits do not determine the value of the hand.
- Full House Hands: When both players have a full house, the winner is one who holds a higher three cards combination. For example, KKK66 wins against JJJAA. If both players have an identical three-card combination, then the two-card part is compared to decide the winner, and if that is also the same, then the pot is divided equally between players.
- 4 Of A Kind Hands: In an unlikely case that both players have four of a kind hand, the one holding higher denomination cards will take down the pot. 7777x wins against 2222x, etc.
- Straight Flush Hands: A straight flush is compared in the same way as a regular flush, so the player holding the highest cards will win. For example, 98765 will win against 65432, and suits do not matter in deciding the winner.
- Royal Flush Hands: If both players have a Royal Flush, then the pot is divided between them.
It might be strange to you that both players can have the same four of a hind poker hands combination, but since Texas Holdem is a community card game, that is entirely possible and happens quite often.
Best Texas Holdem Poker Hands
You already know the official poker hand rankings and order of it, but now let’s take the next step and see the best stating Texas Holdem hands you can have.
This is the list of strongest holdings, so whenever you get one of these poker hands, make sure to play it aggressively, and you will end up winning more often than not.
#1. Pocket Aces
In the list of the best Texas Holdem hands, nothing comes even close to pocket aces (AA), and it is a huge favorite to win against any other holding your opponent might have.
If you got this winning poker hand preflop, do not be afraid to put your money in the middle since you will often win a huge pot.
Nicknames: bullets, pocket rockets, American Airlines.
#2. Pocket kings
The second name in the list of the best poker hands is pocket kings (KK). While you are still losing against pocket aces, you are in great shape against all other holdings and dominate most of it.
Whenever you get this hand, you should feel fairly comfortable putting your money in the middle preflop, and while your opponent might have some equity if they are holding Ax type of hands, they will be drawing quite slim for the most part.
#3. Pocket Queens
Another premium pair in the list is pocket queens (QQ), and this can also be a huge winning hand if played correctly. Sure, it loses to AA and KK, but those are very rare holdings, so you should be more than happy to play this hand.
That said, now you will be only a small favorite against AK, which will be your common enemy in an All-in situation, but you will have a big edge against anything else.
#4. Pocket Jacks
There are many myths about pocket jacks (JJ) being one of the worst hands and that it is hard to win with it, but it is actually 4th best poker hand on the list.
Higher pocket pairs indeed dominate it, but at the same time, it dominates all lower ones and still is a favorite to win against unpaired hands like AK, AQ, or KQ, for that matter.
#5. Ace-King suited
The first non-paired hand in this list is Ace-King suited (AKs), and while it is not as strong as the top poker hands in this list, it deals fairly well against everything apart from the premium pairs.
You will be dominating most of your opponent’s hands and flipping against all pocket pairs except AA and KK.
On top of that, having two cards of the same suit significantly increases your chances of hitting a flush, so that is another benefit of this hand. If your opponent has a high VPIP poker stat, then you should be looking to put your money in the middle in most situations.
Nickname: big slick.
#6. Pocket Tens
Another pair in the list of the best Texas Holdem hands and this is the one that carries more risk. Holding pocket tens (TT) means that you are likely to see overcards on the flop, so playing it can be a bit complicated.
That said, you still can comfortably play this hand since you are a huge favorite against lover pairs and will be flipping against top unpaired poker hands.
#7. Ace-King Offsuit
Similar to a suited version, Ace-King offsuit (AKo) deals fairly well with everything your opponent might throw at you. This is one of the top hands you can comfortably put your money in the middle before the flop and expect to win a fair share of the pot.
That said, it becomes relatively weak when you see community cards and miss it, so better think in advance what is the best way to play it.
Nickname: big slick, Ana Kurnikova
#8. Ace-Queen suited
The second suited hand in this list is Ace-Queen suited (AQs), which also has a lot of strength, both preflop and postflop alike.
Not only do you have a good starting point before community cards, but you will also hit many strong top pairs and good draws, so you should be happy to play one of the top poker hands, but do that cautiously.
Nickname: Big chick
#9. Pocket Nines
While it ranks lower in the winning poker hands list, pocket nines (99) are still a solid holding.
This might not be the hand you want to put all your money in the middle before seeing the flop no matter what, but you will be ahead of your opponent range most of the time.
All you need to do is play it smart, and you will be able to win a lot with this poker hand. If you are in doubt what approach to take with it, tools like Poker Tracker 4 can help you identify the most profitable way against specific players.
Nickname: Wayne Gretzky
#10. Ace-Jack suited
Last but not least is Ace Jack suited (AJs), and while you can debate what should take the 10th spot in the best Texas Holdem hands list, this holding gives you a lot of options.
You will be in good shape against pocket pairs and dominate some non-paired hands, so you will also be able to play it very efficiently postflop when you hit nut flush draw or pair one of the cards.
So while you should not blindly move all-in preflop, you should be looking to play this hand strongly.
Nickname: Armani Jeans
Poker Hands FAQ
If you still have some questions left about poker hand rankings or how to play poker hands in the first place, this should help you out.