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Poker 101: Different Poker hands and How They Work

Knowing the Difference Is Key to Beating Your Opponent

Suicide Jacks Poker - learning the different poker hands

Most experienced players are of the unanimous opinion that the game of poker is more a game of skill than mere luck. This means that you can easily become a winning hand, provided ‘you play your cards’ right and learn the different poker hands.

As far as poker’s rules and regulations are concerned, the various hands are ranked based on the odds of their occurrence. This means that the lower the chance of the hand occurring, the stronger it will be, from the point of view of the game. Knowing what you hold in your hand can ensure that the poker pot odds are in your favor.

As a general rule, the hands that are tied together, in terms of rank, will be decided based on the strength of the highest available card.  For example, a ‘Pair of Kings’ (regardless of their suit) will beat a ‘Pair of Tens’, while a ‘7, 8, 9, 10, J Straight’ will beat a ‘3, 4, 5, 6, 7 Straight’.

Here, the lowest possible hand of cards is basically not a hand at all. That is there is no Straight, no Pairs, just nothing at all. This kind of hand is considered on the basis of the highest card that it contains, so K,7,9, 3, 2 belonging to various suits would be considered “King High.” Some of the common Poker hands include the following poker slang terms.

One Pair

In this game, the lowest hand is known as “One Pair.”  This is made up of two cards of the same value denomination and three totally unrelated cards (7,7, 4, 9, J).

Two Pair

This hand consists of two cards of the same denomination, another two cards of the same numerical value, and one other unrelated card to complete the hand  (8,8, 5,5,7).

Three of a Kind

This hand is considered stronger than the other two hand and beats ‘Two Pair’. The only difference here is that instead of two identical cards, there are three cards that have the same value and there are two unrelated cards. Together, they complete the five-card standard poker hand. This hand is often colloquially referred to as a ‘Set’ or ‘Trips’.  For example, a hand with three eights will be referred to as Trip-eights (8,8,8,5,4).

The Straight

The ‘straight’ tops the ‘Three of a Kind’.  This hand is made of the requisite five cards belonging to any suit, but in an uninterrupted order of value. In this case, an ace can turn out to be either the high card or the low card in the Straight. However, it is pertinent to note that a poker player would not be able to build his ‘Straight’ hand between a ‘King and a Two’, for instance. In other words, A,2,3, 4, 5 will be a ‘Straight’ hand, and so will 10, J, Q, K, A, but a hand that consists of Q, K, A, 2, 3 is most definitely not a straight hand, and you should not consider it a strong hand to play poker with.

The Flush

Just above the Poker Straight is the Flush. This hand consists of all five cards belonging to the same suit or house. Here the numerical value of the cards does not count; what matters is that they all belong to the same house, regardless of their denomination.  For example, your hand may be 3,5 ,6, K, J, but as long as all the cards are spades, then you will have a ‘Flush’ on your hands and as per poker statistics, you are sure to win sooner or later, provided that you have been dealt this hand.

Full House

A Full House is a combination of ‘Three of a Kind’ and  ‘One Pair’.  For example, you may be said to have a “Full House” if you have three Queens and a pair of Fives. This is referred by poker players online as “Full House, Queens over Fives.”

Four of a kind

This is a pretty rare hand since the odds of getting it are very low. This hand basically consists of four cards that have the same numerical value, plus the alone unrelated card. For example, 3,3,3,3,7. Here the suit does not matter and only the denomination of the cards is taken into consideration.

The Straight Flush

This is widely considered by the poker players alliance to be one of the strongest hands in poker. This hand is basically a combination of  ‘Straight’ and ‘Flush.’  In other words, this hand consists of five cards of the same house or suit in an uninterrupted sequence. For example, 8,9,10, J, Q all belonging to the suit of diamonds.

The Legendary ‘Royal Flush’

This is considered by all poker players to be the ‘rarest of the rare’ when it comes to the respective strength of different poker hands. Technically, the ‘Royal Flush’ is essentially a straight Flush with an Ace as its high card. As it is an absolutely unbeatable hand, all poker players typically consider the Royal Flush a hand that is basically a ‘standalone category’ in its own right. Specifically, if you were to hold a ‘Royal Flush’, then it will mean that you hold five cards of the same house in a specific uninterrupted sequence, i.e., 10, J, Q, K, A. However, all cards must be of the same suit, for instance, the suit of diamonds. Needless to say, that if you hold this poker hand, you will win the poker pot, regardless of how solid your opponents’ hands may be.


The above hands are the basics of poker as it has existed throughout the centuries. But how you use your hands when playing poker online or offline, will depend on your own guile and tricks.  Once you master the art of keeping a poker face, you will be able to rake in the pot.

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