Poker Hand Rankings
It is impossible to do well in any form of competition without knowing how a winner is determined. Therefore, understanding the ranking of poker hands and the probability of ending up with each one is crucial to playing the cards you’re dealt and knowing when to hold them and when to fold them.
We will rank the poker hand strength in order from strongest to weakest. Poker hands are listed, along with the probability of ending up with each of them. In the case of any tie, the higher card or set of cards is the winner.
Poker is much more than a game of chance.
Royal Flush, 0.000154% Probability
This hand is the best hand in poker a player can get. A royal flush is when you hold cards from ten to ace all of the same suit. The odds of hitting a royal flush in Texas Hold ‘Em are 30,939 to 1, so don’t hold your breath. There are only four possible card combinations to hold a royal flush.
By comparison, the National Weather Service puts the odds of being struck by lightning in your lifetime at 1 in 15,300. Good luck.
Straight Flush, 0.0015% Probability
A straight flush is similar to a royal flush but can be any five cards in the same suit in order. 3-4-5-6-7 of spades, for example, would be a straight flush.
The odds are better but still very unlikely so if you end up holding a straight flush, do your best Lady Gaga impersonation and keep your poker face as you go all in.
Three of a Kind, 2.87% Probability
Three cards of the same value is a three of a kind. When playing Texas Hold ‘Em, this will be referred to as either a set or trips.
A set is when a player holds a pair in hand and the third card hits the board. Trips are when the pair hits the board, and a player has the third card in hand.
Two Pair, 7.62% Probability
Two pairs are like the silver medalist, so close to being a full house or three of a kind that it is hard to be excited. It can be a good hand and one that occurs pretty regularly.
Like other combinations, a two-pair hand is ranked by the higher of the duos. J-J-5-5-K would be a jack-high two pair.
Pair, 49.9% Probability
The easiest combination to get outside of holding a high card, a pair in poker, is simply two cards of the same value. With almost a fifty percent expectancy, this is as common as a pair of underwear, and it is more surprising when someone doesn’t have a pair in hand.
High card, 100% Probability
The good news is that anyone can get a high card. The bad news is that anyone can get a high card, which is the worst-case scenario when playing poker, and if you are counting on a high card to ride you to victory, you better hope your opponents have equally lousy luck.
In the case of a tie, whoever holds the second-highest card will be the winner.
Poker is much more than a game of chance. An immense amount of strategy and statistics go into becoming a strong, successful player. Knowing when to take chances and when to play it safe is the key to coming out ahead.
Remember that as much as your game is determined by your hands, you are playing against other people and not the cards in your hand. The goal is not to get a particular hand but to use the cards you hold to build a stronger hand than your opponents.
Do this well, and you are in for a good time, hands down.