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Hand Rankings
Hand Rankings

Poker MovesHand Rankings

Five-Card Poker Hand Rankings

A player can have only one of 9 possible five-card poker hands at showdown. Here are those hands, ranked in order, from strongest to weakest.

  1. Straight Flush
  2. Four of a Kind
  3. Full House
  4. Flush
  5. Straight
  6. Three of a Kind
  7. Two Pair
  8. One Pair
  9. High Card

Poker hand rankings are used to determine the winning player at showdown, if the hand has not been finalized previously through the betting process.

Five-Card Hand Rankings Tiers

Top Tier

Straight Flush


Four of a Kind


Full House


Opponent Hand Strength Keys: NLH Post Flop - Board must be paired for full house or four of a kind. Board must show at least 3 cards to a straight flush.

Middle Tier





Three of a Kind


Two Pair


Opponent Hand Strength Keys: NLH Post Flop - If board is paired a player may (or may not) have two pair or three of a kind. Board must show at least three cards to a straight or flush.

Bottom Tier

One Pair


High Card


Opponent Hand Strength Keys: NLH Pre-Flop - Everyone who stays has high card or one pair. And a drawing hand.

General NLH Notes: Play hands pre-flop, such as pairs & connectors, that can best turn into middle and top tier hands post flop.

Poker hand ranks are the same for all standard poker games, however, I look at hand ranks differently when I'm playing different poker game variations. Develop your own way to master hand ranks and help determine hand strengths based on what's on the board in NLH.

Poker Hand Ranks Explained

Here you will find a more detailed explanation of each hand ranking.

1. Straight Flush Explained

A straight flush is a straight (5 cards in order, such as J-10-9-8-7) that are all of the same suit. A straight flush can also have an Ace be high (A-K-Q-J-T => Straight Flush to the Ace, highest hand available, nicknamed 'Royal Flush') or low (A-2-3-4-5). Wraparounds are NOT allowed (K-A-2-3-4).

How To Say It: Straight Flush To The Ace, Ace High Straight Flush

2. Four of a Kind Explained

Four of a kind is four cards of the same rank (AAAA5). If there are two or more hands that qualify, the hand with the higher-rank four of a kind wins.

Four Aces, Quad Aces

3. Full House Explained

A full house is three of a kind and a pair (K-K-K-2-2). When there are two full houses the tie is broken by the three of a kind. An example would be J-J-J-5-5 would beat 9-9-9-A-A.

Full House - Jacks Over Fives

4. Flush Explained

A flush is all cards of the same suit (all Diamonds for instance). When more than one player has a flush in a hand at showdown, the hand with the highest card rank wins Qd, 9d, 8d, 5d, 3d.

Queen High Flush, Flush To the Queen

5. Straight Explained

A straight is five cards in rank order of different suits (2-3-4-5-6). The Ace can either be high (A-K-Q-J-10) or low (A-2-3-4-5). Wraparounds are NOT allowed (K-A-2-3-4). When two straights tie, the highest straight wins, K-Q-J-10-9 would beat 5-4-3-2-A. If two straights have the same rank, AKQJT vs AKQJT, the pot is split.

King High Straight, Straight To The King

6. Three of a Kind Explained

Three of a kind is three cards of any rank with the remaining cards not being a pair 5-5-5-K-2. If two or more players have three of a kind, the highest ranking three of a kind would win. K-K-K-2-4 would beat Q-Q-Q-A-K.

Three Kings, Trip Kings

[Set] - Another name (nickname?) for and better disguised three of a kind in NLH. It occurs when you have a pair in your hand and another card of the same rank on the board. It's harder for your opponents to decipher if the pair is in your hand. It still counts the same as a three of a kind at showdown, but the possibility for extracting maximum value is increased. It's easier to 'set' a player up to take more of their chips.

7. Two Pair Explained

Two pair is two distinct pairs and a fifth card K-K-2-2-3. The highest ranking pair wins ties. If both hands have the same high pair, the second pair wins. If both hands have the same pairs, the high card wins. It's best not to have one of your pairs on the board as this would be easier for your opponent to have a hand that beats you. If no flush or straight draws and the board is not paired there are way fewer hands (higher two pair or three of a kind) that can beat you.

Two Pair - Kings & Twos

8. One Pair Explained

One pair is one pair with three distinct cards A-A-J-4-2. Highest ranking pair wins. Next highest card in your hand (your kicker) breaks ties when players have the same pair.

Pair of Aces – Jack Kicker

9. High Card Explained

High card is one single highest ranking card Q-10-8-7-4. If there is a tie for the high card then the next high card (your kicker) determines who wins the pot. If that card is a tie than it continues down till the third, fourth, and fifth card. The high card is also used to break ties when the high hands both have a hand of the same rank.

Queen High – Ten Kicker

How To Rank Hands On The Flop

How to rank your hand when the flop hits.

  1. Nut Hands (3 streets value)
  2. Nut Draws (3 streets bluff)
  3. Strong Made Hands (2 streets value)
  4. Strong Draws (2 streets bluff)
  5. Weak Made Hands (1 street value)
  6. Weak Draws (1 street bluff)
  7. Air / Trash (0 streets)

Check Ed Miller or James Sweeney for more on after flop hand rankings.

How To Rank Hands on The River

How to rank hands when the river hits.

  1. Value Bet Hands
  2. Showdown Hands
  3. Bluff Hands (No Showdown Value)

How To Rank Starting Hands

When playing NLH you start with two cards called your starting hand. Starting hands are explained in detail in the Starting Hand Selection Strategy section.