The first step on your journey to becoming a Poker great, is becoming familiar with the hierarchy or ranking of the cards. Most Poker games are played with a standard deck of cards – i.e. something most of us are familiar with already. There’s nothing fancy about it at all: 52 cards consisting of 4 suits. These are:
- Hearts ©
- Spades ª
- Diamonds ¨
Next, it’s onwards to an explanation of what all it is that makes up a suit.
A standard 52-card deck contains 13 cards of each of the 4 suits: A – K – Q – J – 10 – 9 – 8 – 7 – 6 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2. All 4 suits are equal in value. And since each deck of cards has more than 2 million possible 5-card combinations, the possibilities for creating value in an actual hand of Poker are both endless as well as fascinating. In Poker, the “likeliness” of a player holding a particular hand is what determines the value of all of the hands on deck.
Ranking Is Important – Here’s Why
In Poker’s hierarchy of cards, the Ace ranks highest of them all. It is however also versatile in more ways than one. For example: when trying to put together a “wheel straight” (5-4-3-2-A), the Ace would in this case double up as the lowest card in the deck – not unlike what we see around a Blackjack table.
No beginner should ever join a game of Poker without first having done what’s necessary in order to get to grips with how Poker hands are ranked. This is because winning is directly tied to the cards in any hand rank. Since rankings are generally consistent across all variations of Poker, it’s not all that difficult to apply what you’re about to learn to most types of Poker games.
The Hierarchy Explained
The hierarchy of cards, ranked from best possible hand, to lowest-ranked hand, is as follows:
- The Royal Flush: the royal flush beats all other hands and is basically a hand made up of an Ace-King-Queen-Jack-10 of the same suit, be it hearts, diamonds, clubs or spades. An example of a royal flush is: A¨-K¨-Q¨J¨-10¨. Again, remember that no one suit ranks higher than another.
- The Straight Flush: a straight flush is made up of five cards in numeric order and also of the same suit. Examples are: (1) 8©-7©-6©-5©4©, (2) Kª-Qª-Jª10ª9ª, etc.
- Four-Of-A-Kind: the four-of-a-kind hand is made up of four cards of similar ranking – four kings, four 5’s, four 2’s, etc. The higher the rankings, the better the hands. For example, four kings beat four queens, four 9’s beat four 2’s, etc.
- The Full House: the full house is made up of three cards of the same rank, combined with a pair of cards featuring another rank. An example of this would be: 6ª-6©-6-2ª-2©.
- Flush: a flush is basically any five cards of the same suit – and not in perfect sequential numeric order.
- Straight: a straight is five cards in numeric order – but not of the same suit, i.e. the opposite scenario to that of a flush.
- Three-Of-A-Kind: the three-of-a-kind hand consists of three cards of the same rank coupled with two cards that aren’t paired. For example: Q©-Q- Q¨-3§-2¨ would out-rank 8¨-8©-ª-3©-2©.
- Two Pair: the two pair hand is made up of a pair of cards of single rank, a pair of cards of a different rank, and an unmatched fifth card. For example K¨-K©-3ª-3©-2¨.
- One Pair: One pair is a hand with two cards of the same rank joined by three cards each of which rank differently.
- High Card: a high card hand is the lowest of all hands. It is made up entirely of unmatched cards – and not of the same suit. In the event that all players have been dealt high card hands, the player in possession of the hand with the highest-ranked (single) card will win that hand.