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Poker Hands

Poker Hands –

Introduction –

A hand in poker means either of these – A unit of play including a deal, round/s of betting, and a showdown / A set of five cards with a specific value (Example – the hand with the cards Ace, 10, 9, 5, 3 of heart is called ‘flush’ which is valuable as all the cards are of the same suit) / A player’s set of non-communal cards.

The second and third definitions are usually interchangeable. For example – In Texas Hold’em, a player with - Club Ace and King, Spade King and Seven, Heart Ace, and Diamond King and Three - says ‘his hand is Ace-King’. His best 5-card hand (the portion of the hand determining the value) is the kings-over-aces full house (with more kings than aces in the 5-cards’ set).

General Rules for evaluating Poker Hands –

For any set of hand values, the following are the rules of evaluation –

1. Cards are ranked as Ace (highest), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2 (lowest) for all the suits. Ace-to-five and ace-to-six lowball games have Ace ranked the lowest.

2. The suits determine if a hand fits a certain category (in Flush and Straight Flush hands). If two players have identical cards except the suit, a tie happens and the pot has to be split. At times, for selecting a player to deal, there is ranking called high card by suit.

3. A hand always has 5 cards. In games with more than 5 cards for each player, ranking of hands is done by choosing some 5-card subset as per the game’s rules, and comparing that 5-card hand with the players’ 5-card hands. The cards remaining after choosing the five to be played is of no use in determining the winner. (When comparing identical full houses, there are no ‘kickers’).

4. Ranking of hands is done first by category, then by individual card ranks. Even the minimum qualifying hand in a particular category defeats all hands of lower categories. Example, smallest two pair hand defeats hands with one pair or no pair. The individual card ranks are used to break ties only between 2 hands of same category. In each flush or straight, the highest single card is used to break ties. The higher pairs are first compared between two 2-pair hands, and in case of tie, secondary pairs are compared and then the kicker.

Ranking of Hands –

The most common rankings can be listed as – Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a kind, Two pair, One pair, No pair.





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