How Poker Hands Are Measured
Even though there are many ways which poker can be played — whether Texas hold’em or Razz — one thing they all have in common is the way in which you form hands. Poker is played with a fifty-two card deck consisting of 13 cards of four different suites. The four different suites are: spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts. Each suite will be represented by a different graphic which will be on every card. The four suites are further broken down into the numbers two through ten along with a jack, queen, king and ace. Unlike blackjack or other card games, face cards do not have numeral value but are ranked hierarchically from best card to worst, the ace being the highest card, then the king, then the queen and finally the jack. The Ten is the next lowest card and the rest of the deck follows in sequential order from there with the higher numbered cards being the best. Some variants of Poker use a joker which is a wild card that can represent any card in the deck. Most casino games do not use a joker as it takes away from the general strategy of the game.
The goal of poker is to make the best possible five card hand. The worst possible hand is one where you have only unpaired, unconnected cards. An example of this would be A K 9 7 3. Here you would say you have an ace high. If someone else had a similar hand also with an ace then the next highest card is compared. This means that the first hand would beat a hand such as A Q 9 4 3. While the aces are matched the king in the first hand is higher than the queen in the second.
The next best hand is one pair. The higher the pair the better the hand. Again if the same pair is tabled the next highest card called a kicker is used to determine the best five card hand.
After one pair comes two pair. The highest two pair hand is awarded to the hand with the highest single pair regardless of the second pair shown. For example A A 2 2 8 would beat K K Q Q 8 because the in the first comparison A A is higher than KK.
Next comes three of a kind. After three of a kind comes a straight which is five cards in consecutive order no matter the suite. The higher the sequence of cards the higher the straight. For example between the hands 4 5 6 7 8 and T J Q K A the second hand, a straight ten to ace, is higher than the first straight of four to eight.
After a straight comes a flush. A flush is five cards of the same suite. The higher the cards of that suite the higher your flush. The best possible flush is an ace flush.
If you’re lucky enough to come across a hand where you have a three of a kind and another pair you have made a full house. The strength of the full house is determined first by the three of a kind and next by the pair.
The second highest hand in poker is quads, or four of a kind. Like other paired hands the higher the four of kind, the higher the hand. Again, 7 7 7 7 8 beats 5 5 5 5 3.
The absolutely highest possible hand in any poker game without jokers is a straight flush. A straight flush is five consecutive cards of the same suite. The best possible straight flush is called a Royal Flush and is often considered a hand by itself.