Sign up


HotSlots - Poker hands

Although understanding poker hands isn’t rocket science, it comes pretty close to that for people with no poker knowledge whatsoever.

The great thing about poker hands — and, by extension, poker hand rankings — is that some practice is all that is required before a baseline understanding can be achieved.

Whether it is a matter of keeping a poker hands ranking list or a poker hand rankings FAQ by your side while playing a poker game, it won’t take long to nail down how poker hands work.

In this post, we’ll take care of explaining everything that has to do with poker hands, including poker hand rankings, how poker hands compete with one another and the probability of making each poker hand.

Our goal is to help you identify a winning poker hand when you see one; thus mastering the art of winning the pot.


Poker hands can be made up of just one to five cards. To do this, either or both of the two hole cards must be used, as well as the five community cards.

The goal in Texas hold’em is to form the strongest poker hand depending on the cards dealt, but this concept is inverted in lowball poker games.

Here’s where things get somewhat tricky for beginners: a specific combination of cards are needed to form the different poker hands.

Have a look at the traditional poker hand rankings below (listed from strongest to weakest) and how they can be made.


Consisting of the five consecutive cards A-K-Q-J-10 of the same suit, a royal flush is the best poker hand. A royal flush beats all the other hands, and it can only tie with another royal flush.


A straight flush — consisting of five consecutive cards of the same suit — is the second-best poker hand. A straight flush beats all the other hands except for a royal flush and a higher straight flush.


A four of a kind, also referred to as quads, features four cards of the same rank, such as four nines. This hand beats all the other hands, except for a royal flush, a straight flush or another four of a kind of a better rank. For example, a four of a kind made up of four jacks will beat another four of a kind made up of four nines.


A full house is made up of a three of a kind combined with a pair of a different rank. For example, three eights and two aces would make a full house.

Only a royal flush, a straight flush and a four of a kind can beat a full house. If two players have a full house, the one with the highest card rankings will win.

The best way to make a full house is when a pocket pair is dealt. Pocket pairs complement a full house pretty well, since other players won’t stand the same chance of making an identical full house that way.

Pocket aces, pocket Kings, pocket Queens, pocket Jacks and pocket tens are very desired hands for this very reason. Such hands can form a wide range of poker combinations, so try to make the most out of them if you’re lucky enough to have them dealt to you.


A flush consists of five cards of the same suit, but they must not be consecutive cards. For example, 10, eight, five, three and two of diamonds would make a flush.

Although desirable, a flush is far from the most powerful hand in the game since it can be beaten by a royal flush, a straight flush, a four of a kind and a full house. Having said that, a flush can beat a straight, a three of a kind, a two pair, a pair and a high card.


A straight consists of five consecutive cards of different suits. For example, a K-Q-J-10-9 of different suits would make a straight flush. Should they be of the same suit, those cards would make a straight flush.

Straights beat a three of a kind, a two pair, a pair and a high card. A straight of a higher rank or any hand better than that will beat a straight.

You might come across the phrase ‘Broadway straight’, which refers to the best possible straight hand of 10 through ace.


Three cards of the same rank are required to make a three of a kind, which only beats three other hands: a two pair, a pair and a high card.


A two pair consists of one pair of the same rank and another pair of another rank. For example, two jacks and two queens. A two pair beats any one pair as well as high cards.


A pair simply consists of two cards of the same rank, such as two queens. A one pair beats a high card and, at most, a one pair of a lower rank.


A high card is the worst poker hand possible. It is made up of five cards that don’t form any of the hands listed above. A high card won’t beat any made hands except for another high card of a lower rank.


Ties can be quite frequent in poker games, so it’s important to know what happens in the event that your poker hand ties.

In poker, ties are settled by what are known as kickers or high cards. The kicker refers to the cards in a poker hand that don’t contribute to the made hand.

For example, A-A-10-J-5 and A-A-10-6-3 feature one pair of aces. The rest of the cards are the tie-breakers, that is, the kickers.

In this case, the former poker hand wins since its kicker (J) beats the other hand’s kicker (6).

If the high card is the same for both hands, the subsequent high card would then be the kicker.

For example, in a showdown between A-A-10-J-5 and A-A-10-6-3 the kicker wouldn’t be the Jack since both hands feature it.

The kicker would therefore be the best-ranking card after that, which would see the former hand win thanks to its kicker (J) that beats the other hand’s kicker (6).

In cases when all kickers are identical, the hands are considered full ties. Should this happen, the pot would be split in equal value.

This tends to happen when players’ poker hands are made up of five cards, since there are fewer kickers to act as tie-breakers.

On the other hand, kickers are more abundant when it comes to a one pair or a three of a kind.


As a disclaimer, identifying the winning poker hand can still take quite a long time to get used to. Whether it is online poker or other poker games played in real life, you’ll need quite a lot of practice to get the hang of how poker hands rival each other.

To save you the hassle of consulting the list of poker hands every time you play a poker game, we’ve taken the time to write a few pointers about why exactly some hands beat others.

We’d advise new poker players to keep this post handy while playing, since it can really help you understand each poker hand ranking quickly.


Simply put, the royal flush is the best poker hand. “Does a royal flush beat-” Yes, yes it does.

The reason why the royal flush is the best poker hand is that it is extremely rare.

We’ll delve into the exact probability of being dealt a royal flush later on, but just to paint a clear picture, we’ll say that some professional players fail to see a single royal flush once in their poker careers.

What happens if two royal flushes collide? The pot would simply be split.

If you’re lucky enough to be dealt a royal flush, do not bother slow playing it. It’s important to play aggressively and rack up as big of a pot as possible, since you definitely wouldn’t want your royal flush to go to waste!


The odds of making a straight flush are pretty low. Think about it: a straight flush is simply a royal flush with lower-ranking cards!

Does a straight flush beat a straight, a full house and the rest? The answer is yes. The only hand that beats a straight flush is a royal flush.

The odds of not only forming five cards of the same suit, but also of sequential order are extremely small — second-only to the odds of a royal flush.


A full house poker hand is thought of as one of the best hands in poker, but it can get beaten by three other hands: a royal flush, straight flush and four of a kind.

With that said, a full house still beats a large number of hands. A full house poker hand beats a straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair and high card.

As a side note, the exact name of a full house depends on the cards used to form the poker hand.

For example, a full house consisting of J-J-J-5-5 would be called ‘Jacks full of fives’.


A flush in poker is quite an average-to-good hand, since it beats five hands and loses to the remaining four.

What exactly does a flush beat? A flush can beat a straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair and a high card. However, it loses out to a royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind and full house.

As a side note, the exact name of a flush in poker depends on the cards used to form the poker hand.

For example, a flush consisting of A-J-10-5-3 would be called an ‘ace high flush’.


Although a flush wins against most hands, the same doesn’t hold for a stand-off against a full house.

When starting to play poker, the misconception that a flush is rarer than a full house can pop up, but this is not the case.

Despite being somewhat similar in terms of their probability of happening, a full house beats a flush since it comes by slightly less frequently than its counterpart.


Why does a straight beat a three of a kind? The reason for it is that the outcome of combining five cards of sequential rank is lower than that of combining three cards of the same rank.

A three of a kind is often the winning poker hand, especially when there aren’t many other strong hand draws.


When it comes to misconceptions about poker hand rankings, we cannot avoid mentioning the assumption that forming two pairs is harder than forming a three of a kind.

That is not the case. A three of a kind beats a two pair since it is a marginally rarer hand. Just because a hand requires more cards to be made doesn’t mean that it is rarer than hands with fewer cards.

The scenario we’ve described in this section perfectly sums this up; a two pair (consisting of four cards) is not rarer than a three of a kind (which consists of three cards), despite the fact that it requires one more card to be made.


The high card is the worst poker hand, and there’s little you can do if you’re dealt one. Most high card hands tend to be folded before the river since they will lose out to any possible poker hand combination — even a pair beats a high card!

A high card is usually only worth keeping in the game if:

  • you have a Jack or higher.
  • you don’t need to call large bets.

Sinking money into a high card is rarely a good idea, which is why most players tend to fold this poker hand when faced with a bet or raise.


People who hate math will most likely want to skip this part, but calculating the probability of a poker hand isn’t as mind-boggling as it sounds.

Think about it: understanding the probability of each poker hand will not only sate your curiosity, but it can help you understand why certain poker hands beat others.

Let’s start off with the basis: there are 52 cards in a deck, and in the context of Texas hold’em, five cards are needed to form a poker hand.

To calculate the probability of a specific hand, we must count the number of ways said hand can occur and divide the figure by the total number of possible five-card draws — a figure that stands at 2,598,960.

Since we’re counting combinations (C), we’re looking for n objects taken r at a time, and this number of combinations can be expressed as n! / r!(n – r)!.

52C5 = 52! / 5!(52 – 5)! = 52! / 5!47! = 2,598,960

This formula can be used to count the number of possible five-card hands and the number of ways a particular hand can be dealt. To find probability, we divide the latter by the former. 

Below, you’ll find a breakdown of each hand probability, with a table compiling each nugget of information listed below.


There are only four ways to make a royal flush — through each of the four suits. In order to calculate the probability of a royal flush, we must divide four by 2,598,960, placing the exact probability at around 0.000154%, or in case you prefer odds, 649,739:1. 


There are 36 possible ways to form a straight flush — nine times that of a royal flush. If we divide 36 by 2,598,960, we’ll get the exact probability to get a straight flush: 0.00139%, or 72,192.33:1.


Although you’ll find that forming a four of a kind is much more likely compared to the two hands we’ve mentioned above, this hand is still extremely rare. With 624 possible combinations for a four of a kind, the probability of coming across one is around 0.02401%, or 4,164:1. 


There are 3,744 possible combinations to make a full house, putting the probability at 0.1441%, or 693.166 :1.


There are 5,108 ways to make a flush (excluding a royal and a straight flush). This puts the probability of forming a flush at 0.1965%, or 508.8019:1.


There are a good 10,200 ways to make a straight (excluding a royal flush and a straight flush). This puts the probability of forming a straight at 0.3925% or 253.8:1.


As we move on from the rare hands, we’ll get to see how easier it is to form the more common hands. Having said that, the probability of landing one is still low, statistically speaking.

This is the case with the three of a kind, where there are 54,912 ways to form this hand, which puts the probability of forming one at 2.1128%, or 46.32955:1.


There are 123,552 ways to form two pairs, putting the probability of forming one at 4.7539%, or 20.03535:1.


There always tends to be at least one player who forms one pair during a round of poker. The reason for that is because there are 1,098,240 ways to form one pair, putting the probability of forming one at 42.2569%, or 2.366477:1.


There are 1,302,540 ways to form a high card in five-hand poker variants, putting the probability of forming one at 50.1177%, or 0.9953015:1.

The only reason this probability isn’t higher is that the probability of forming a winning combination takes up the rest of the odds.


Once you’ve gotten to know everything that has to do with poker hands, rankings and what is required to make them, feel free to put your newfound skills to the test at HotSlots.

Our Casino is, by far, the best place to play poker online. We’ve got dozens of different poke variants for you to explore, including American Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Pai Gow Poker, Jacks or Better and other traditional Texas hold’em games.

Our collection of live poker consists of several top-notch games developed by equally top-notch game providers. You’ll find many other classic games too, including live roulette, live blackjack and live baccarat — all brimming with unique side bets and extraordinary rewards.

If you want more out of live gaming without having to switch casinos, check out our live game shows, where you can enjoy dynamic gameplay with explosive spins and minigames. We’ve partnered up with some industry giants to bring you many superb live shows, such as Crazy Time and Monopoly Live, both of which are well worth a try!


If you’re interested in claiming a good bonus offer prior to playing, how about checking out our ‘Promotions‘ page? We’ve got many bonuses worth checking out, including a generous Welcome Bonus to get things rolling.

Do note that the availability of the Welcome Bonus, as well as any other casino bonus, is subject to the player’s jurisdiction — the rewards might vary as well.

Our minimum deposit is only €10, or currency equivalent, which means that you don’t have to start off big if you’re not comfortable doing so.

We are licensed by Curacao, and we pride ourselves in adhering to the highest Responsible Gaming regulations in the industry. At HotSlots, you are guaranteed a very safe and reliable game experience.


The royal flush is at the top of the list when it comes to the poker hand rankings. It has no close competitor, since the rest of the poker hands have a much higher probability of occurring.
The royal flush cannot be beaten; at most, it can tie to hands of equal value. In this case, an equal-value hand would be another royal flush.

It is very uncommon to see this hand, but it is known to feature in some very high-stakes tournaments — making the action even more thrilling to spectators.

The most promising royal flush draws are ace-king suited, ace-queen suited and ace-jack suited, since the player would then only need three of the five community cards dealt to make a royal flush.

The only time is it possible for two players to have a royal flush is if it is on the board, that is, if the A-K-Q-J-10 are the community cards.

Should this be the case, the hands will tie. It would then be up to the kickers to decide who of the two players takes the pot.

Whichever high card outranks the other will win the pot.

There are 10 poker hands that you should know about. Starting from the strongest to the weakest, these are: royal flush, straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair and high card.

That list is valid for traditional Texas hold'em variants which feature five community cards and two hole cards.

Learning all the poker hand rankings isn't a matter of how hard you study them but how many poker hands you actually play.

The fastest way to learn all the poker hand rankings is to keep a list of poker hands by your side when playing poker: be it live or online poker.

In time, you'll get used to the poker hand rankings and won't need to keep the list by your side.
Another way to learn the poker hands rankings is to keep in mind the probability of them occurring.

Although you don't have to remember the exact odds of the poker hands being dealt, you can keep in mind that straight flush and four of a kind are very rare hands, and they beat a full house, a standard flush and all the other pair hands.

In Texas hold'em, there are 1,326 starting hands in poker. With that said, many of these hands have the same value since all the suit are worth the same.
For example, an ace-Queen of spades and an ace-Queen of diamonds have the exact same value.
Therefore, there are 169 non-equivalent starting hands in Texas hold 'em, which is the total count of 13 pocket pairs, 13 × 12 / 2 = 78 suited hands and 78 unsuited hands (13 + 78 + 78 = 169).
As a side note, the 's' and 'o' that are often used when describing starting hands refer to 'suited' and 'offsuit', respectively.

For example, a description of a starting hand could look like this: KJo, which refers to a King and a Jack offsuit.

The best possible starting hand in Texas hold'em is pocket aces. The ace is the strongest card in nearly all forms of poker, and starting with two of them puts you in a favourable early position.

With that said, there are still five community cards to come, which may possibly help your opponents more than you and cause them to overtake you by the time the showdown arrives.

The next most powerful starting hand is two Kings. Other good starting hands include two Queens, an ace and a King of the same suit and an Ace and King of different suits.

Two cards of the same suit greatly improve your chances of making a flush, although this doesn't mean that you should play every suited hand you are dealt.

The worst starting hand in Texas hold'em is a seven and two offsuit, since very few hands can be formed this way.

Some players think that a three and a two offsuit is the worst starting hand in the game, but this hand can potentially form a straight if the community cards are favourable.

The seven-two hand is, therefore the worst hand in the game since it offers very few possibilities to make a promising hand.

Having said that, that hand could still form powerful hands in the right circumstances, such as a full house, four of a kind and more.

This largely depends on the rules of the game being played. In Texas hold'em, five cards are used to form a hand, but this may differ in other variants.

There are two ways to play poker: tight and loose. Playing tight means being very particular about the hands you play, thus betting on a lower range of poker hands.

On the other hand, playing loose means pursuing a very high range of hands until later streets, where they'll mostly have to fold to stronger or better-played hands.

In normal poker games, we advise playing tight for a number of reasons.

First off, not all hands are worth playing, especially considering the number of chips that a weak hand can send to waste. Playing fewer hands will not only preserve your chip stack, but it will also disguise your strong hands in the future.

Once you learn to play tight — that is, folding relatively weak hands and only pursuing hands on the stronger side — you'll want to play them aggressively.

Doing so will render you unpredictable to your opponents, since they'll have no idea whether you're sitting on a very strong hand or just air.

Such practice is called semi-bluffing, where a relatively promising hand is played extremely aggressively. If other players decide to call your ostensible bluff, they'll be greeted with a formidable hand that can very easily overcome theirs.

The stakes are usually much higher in tournaments compared to normal poker games. As a result, players will tend to play tight, which refers to the practice of only pursuing hands that they believe have good showdown value.

Having said that, many poker events have been won by what most consider low-value hands. We recommend assessing each situation and playing accordingly.

Another handy tip is to widen the range of hands to bet on. This is because the goal of most poker tournaments is to rack up enough chips for the bubble, at which point chips become ever so valuable.

The best strategy you could incorporate when playing poker or other cash games is to establish a budget and stick to it no matter what. This isn't just a poker strategy; sticking to a budget must be done when playing any cash game out there.

Before looking to play cash games, you should have an accurate idea of the size of your budget, and you should stick to it no matter what the result of your wagering is.

When you start playing poker games, it isn't a good idea to constantly look to make a profit. You are better off establishing a budget and stretching your bankroll as much as possible while learning about the game.

One of the most common poker mistakes out there is throwing bankroll management out of the window and going all-in in one final attempt to recoup past losses. This is a very bad idea and it often ends up losing the player more money than anticipated.

Astray to what most players might think, a three pair poker hand does not qualify as a hand combination.

This is because a poker hand can only be made up of five cards, and three pairs would make use of six.