One of the first things you’re going to want to know when starting out with Texas Hold‘em is what the winning hands are.
LET’S START WITH THE BASICS
Each player is trying to make their best five card hand using their two hole cards and the five community cards on the table. The value order of the cards themselves runs Two to Ace. In other words, Ace is the highest card in the deck and Two is the lowest. Suits do not have an inherent value in poker. So, for example, an Ace of Diamonds has exactly the same value as an Ace of Spades.
Here are the 10 winning hands in Texas Hold‘em, going from lowest (High Card) to highest (Royal Flush).
1. HIGH CARD
If no one at the table has made a pair or higher in their hand and it gets to a showdown (i.e. the players show their cards after the river card and subsequent round), the player with the highest card in her hand will win. If both players have, say, a King high, then the player with the next highest card will win. If two or more players have equally valued hands (i.e. each of the cards in their hands have the same numerical values), the pot will be split between them.
Even better than having the highest card in your hand is making a pair – e.g. two Fives. Any pair will beat any single high card. It is possible that two players show the same pair – e.g. two Fives. In which case, the player with the highest single card in his hand (the “kicker”) will be the winner. So for example, if two players have a pair of Fives but one also has an Ace and the other only has a King, the player with the Ace will win the hand because their kicker is stronger.
3. TWO PAIR
Next in the ranking comes two pair – e.g. two Fives and two Kings. It is equally possible (though much less likely) that two players show the same two pair. Again, in that case, the player with the highest kicker will be the winner.
4. THREE OF A KIND (OR “TRIPS”)
Any player who has three of the same card will have made a three of a kind. For example, a player might have two Eights as their hole cards and hit an Eight on the Turn. They will now have trip Eights. With only four of each card in the deck, there’s obviously no chance of someone else having the same trip in their hand.
A straight is any five cards in numerical sequence, but not of the same suit. So for example: Eight, Nine, Ten, Jack, Queen of different suits is a Queen high straight. It’s possible for someone else to have the same straight as you, in which case you would split the pot, there being no room in the five-card hand for kickers.
A flush is any five cards of the same suit that are not in numerical sequence – e.g. Two, Eight, Ten, Jack, Queen, all of Spades. This would be a Queen high flush. It is possible for someone else to have the same flush as you, in which case you would split the pot. Again, there being no room in the five card hand for kickers.
7. FULL HOUSE
A full house is a combination hand, with a three of a kind and a pair. For instance, you might have trip Tens and a pair of Nines. Unlike with the flush and straight, it is not possible for someone else to have the same full house as you, as only one player can have trips of a particular card.
8. FOUR OF A KIND
As the name suggests, four of a kind is simply having four of the same card – e.g. four Tens. Obviously, it is not possible for anyone to have the same four of a kind as you.
9. STRAIGHT FLUSH
The only hand that has a remote likelihood of beating Four of a Kind is a Straight Flush. A Straight Flush is a straight (five cards in numerical sequence) all of the same suit.
10. ROYAL FLUSH
The hand that all Texas Hold‘em players fantasize about but (almost) never see is the Royal Flush. Essentially, a Royal Flush is a Straight Flush with all the picture cards used in the hand, plus the ten. I.e. Ace, King, Queen, Jack, Ten all of the same suit. If you have one of these, not only do you have the highest possible hand in the game of poker, but you’re also witnessing a once in a lifetime event. Take a photo and make sure you’re all-in!