Poker Hands for Beginners

There are many variations of poker. In some all of players’ cards are individual and in others some of the cards are shared amongst all the players. These shared cards are known as community cards. Whatever variation is being played, the players must make their final poker hand from five cards and the hands are always ranked in an identical manner.

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Ranking of poker cards follows a simple pattern of probabilities. The rarest hands receive the highest basic rankings and the most common hands the lowest, however when similarly ranked hands compete, the winning one will be decided by the highest cards based on Ace having the highest value and a two the lowest. All suits are considered to be of equal value, so that for instance a King of hears has the same value as a King of spades or any other suit.

The highest ranked hand is a straight flush which is five consecutively numbered cards of the same suit and the one with the highest value is 10 through to Ace.

Next comes Four of a Kind, which is simply four cards of any value. The best is four Aces.

This is followed by a Full House which is three cards of one value and two of another. The best is three Aces and two Kings.

Next comes a Flush which is five cards of the same suit. The best is Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 9.

The fifth top hand is a straight which is five sequential cards of various suits. The best is 10 through to Ace.

Sixth highest is three of a kind, the top hand being three Aces.

Next is two pairs, Aces and kings being the best.

This is followed by a single pair, preferably Aces.

And finally, if none of these are held, the highest card wins.

It is also important to have a reasonable idea of the probability of each hand occurring. This depends on the format of the game, but for purposes of comparison you just need to consider the probabilities of being dealt the cards in a simple five card deal. The chance of receiving less than a pair is 50%; a pair is 42%; two pairs 4.75%; three of a kind 2.1%; a straight 0.39%; a flush 0.2%; a full house 0.14%; four of a kind 0.024%; and a straight flush 0.0015%.

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