Does a Flush Beat a Straight In Poker & Why?
If you decided to start playing poker, the first thing you need to learn is hand rankings. For example, you need to know does a flush beat a straight in poker and why does a flush beat a straight.
Most beginning players memorize the hand ranking charts without thinking about why some hand combinations rank better than others.
If you’re just looking for a quick answer, then it is – yes: a flush beats a straight in poker every time!
However, in this article we will not only answer the question does a straight beat a flush, but we will also give you the reasons for the rankings of each of these hands.
Does a Flush Beat a Straight in Poker?
Just in case you are here only for the straightforward answer, yes, a flush beats a straight in poker.
However, if you want to know why a flush beats a strait in Texas Hold’em, we will be explaining that below.
If you have been involved in poker in any capacity, you probably already know that there is a lot of math involved.
This is also true when it comes to the game’s rules as math was used to determine the strength of each hand in Texas Hod’em.
Hence the hands that occur more often are less valuable than hands that occur less often.
In the table below, you can see all of the hands in poker ranked as well as some of the math behind each of the combinations.
|Four of a Kind||624||0.02401%||4,164-to-1|
|Three of a Kind||54,912||2.1128%||46-to-1|
The odds for getting the rarest hand in poker, the royal flush, are 649,739-to-1, while the odds for getting the least valuable paired hand, one pair, are 1.37-to-1.
Based on the numbers, you can see that it is only natural that the lower frequency hands beat the higher frequency hands because this is the only way the game would make sense.
Now, when it comes to the flush vs. straight, here are some of the numbers based on which both of these combinations were ranked.
There are 5,108 possible flush combinations in poker. This means that your odds of hitting a flush are 509-to-1. In other words there is a 0.1965% chance that you will hit a flush in any random hand you play.
When it comes to the straight, there are 10,200 different straight combinations in Texas Hold’em. Thus, the likelihood of you hitting this hand is 0.3925%. Translated to odds, you are looking at 254-to-1.
Based on the frequency rule, we can see why a flush beast a straight in poker. It is because you are less likely to hit a flush than you are to hit a straight.
What Is a Flush in Poker?
Now that we answered the question does a flush beat a straight, it is time to dig deeper into each of these hand combinations and learn additional information which will help you improve your poker game.
In poker, a hand combination that contains five cards of the same suit of which at least one is not sequential is called a flush.
- K♠10♠7♠6♠5♠ – a king-high flush
- 10♣9♣8♣7♣5♣ – a ten-high flush
In situations where all of the cards in the combination are of the same suit and they are also sequential, this hand combination is called a straight flush.
- 6♠5♠4♠3♠2♠ – a six-high straight flush
- 9♥8♥7♥6♥5♥ – a nine-high straight flush
If the highest card in the flush combination is an ace and the lowest card is a ten, this flush hand combination is called a royal flush.
- A♦K♦Q♦J♦10♦ – royal flush in diamonds
- A♣K♣Q♣J♣10♣ – royal flush in clubs
How Are Flush Combinations Ranked
As you saw in our hand ranking chart, a royal flush is the strongest hand combination in poker and thus the strongest flush combination.
The 2nd strongest flush combination in poker and the 2nd flush combination is the straight flush.
Finally, the weakest flush combination in poker is the ordinary flush (five cards of the same suit of which at least one is not sequential).
Furthermore, flush combinations are ranked based on:
- The rank of the highest card
- The rank of the 2nd highest card
- The rank of the 3rd highest card, etc.
- A♠K♠10♠9♠8♠ vs. K♠Q♠10♠9♠8♠
In this example, the ace-high flush outranks the king high flush because the highest card in the first combination (A♠) outranks the highest card in the second combination (K♠).
- Q♦10♦5♦4♦3♦ vs. Q♦J♦6♦5♦4♦
Here, because the highest card in both flush combinations has the same rank (Q), to determine the winning hand, we compare the second highest card in both hands.
Since the second highest card in the second combination (J♦) outranks the second highest card in the first combination (10♦), the second combination is the winner.
The same rules apply for straight flush combinations, as the hand containing the highest card in the sequence will win.
The Number of Flush Combinations in Texas Hold’em
In the standard deck of cards used for Texas Hold’em (52 cards), each card has two main features which, when combined, make it unique.
The first feature is the suit of the card (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs) and the second feature is its rank (A, K, Q, J, T, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2).
If we do the math based on these features, we come up with the following numbers related to flush combinations:
- There are four unique royal flush combinations (hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs)
- There are 36 unique straight flush combinations (9 for each suit)
- There are 5,108 unique flush combinations
*Note: Technically, there are 40 straight flush combinations (10 for each suit) but the highest flush in each suit combination is A to T and because this combination has its own name (royal flush) we need to discount the highest straight flush combination from each suit.
What Is a Straight in Poker?
In poker, a hand that contains five cards in consecutive order, of which at least one is a different suit is called a straight.
- K♦Q♠J♦10♦9♣ – a king-high straight
- 9♠8♠7♦6♦5♣ – a nine-high straight
As you can see, in most cases straight combinations get their name based on the rank of the highest card in the combination, but there are also some exceptions.
The highest straight combination in poker is usually referred to as the broadway straight (for example A♦K♠Q♠J♦10♣) while the lowest straight combination is usually referred to as the wheel or the steel wheel (5♣4♣3♦2♥A♥).
If all of the cards in the straight combination are of the same suit, this combination is called a straight flush, and if the highest card in the straight combination is an Ace and the lowest card is the T, this combination is called a royal flush.
Because these combinations are (technically) at the same time both flush and straight combinations, we mentioned them earlier in the text when talking about the different types of flushes.
How Straight Combinations Are Ranked
Straight combinations in poker are ranked based on the rank of the highest card in the combination. The higher the rank of the highest card, the stronger the straight.
- 10♠9♣8♣7♣6♦ vs. 9♣8♣7♣6♦5♥
In this situation, the ten-high straight beats the nine-high straight because the highest card in the ten-high combination (10♠) outranks the highest card in the nine-high combination (9♣).
The Number of Straight Combinations in Texas Hold’em
Based on the same factors and features we used for the flush combinations, here are the results when it comes to the numbers regarding straight combinations in poker:
- There are four unique royal flush combinations (A to T straight in the same suit)
- There are 36 unique straight flush combinations (9 for each suit)
- There are 10,200 unique straight combinations
As you can see, the numbers for the royal flush and the straight flush are the same because these two hand ranks have both flush and straight features.
To sum it all up, the main reason why a flush beats a straight is that there are almost as twice as much straight combinations as there are flush combinations!