In Texas No-Limit Hold-em, not all poker hands are equal. Here's is a simple guide to poker hand rankings to help you learn and revise where your hand falls in the order of hand strength, what hands it beats, and what hands it is beaten by.
Understanding and memorizing this is essential to playing No-limit hold-em as you will be helpless at the tables if you don't even know whether you have the better hand or not. We will go from the weakest hands to the strongest hands. Make sure you keep revisiting this page as many times it takes to understand and learn the rankings.
When your hand has nothing more than a high broadway card going for it, your hand strength is that of a high card. You can still beat people with not even a high card in their hand, but that's about it.
For example, If you have AK offsuit and the flop comes 2 7 9 rainbow your hand strength is that of a high card as your five-card made hand in this situation would be A-K-2-7-9.On this flop, you beat any hand without an ace in it like JT offsuit, whose five cards made hand would be J-T-2-7-9 and be beat by your Ace "high-card.
To conclude, high-card refers to having an Ace or a king in your hand and having no cards in synergy with one other to make other stronger hands in No-Limit Holdem.
Single pair (pair)
If you have two cards of the same value in your 5 card made hand, you have a pair. For example, if you have A6 offsuit and the flop is 6 9 K rainbow, you have a pair of sixes as your hand strength. If you have A6 rainbow and the board is A 7 J rainbow, your hand strength is a pair of Aces.
Furthermore, pairs can be classified as
- Top pair - when your pair is made with the highest card on the board, your hand strength is that of a top pair. For example, if you have AK offsuit and the flop is A 7 2 rainbow, your hand strength is top pair as your strongest 5 card made hand in this situation is A-A-K-7-2. Top pairs beat any other single pair.
- Middle pair - If your pair is made with a middling card on the board, your hand strength is said to be the top pair. For example, if you have K7 offsuit and the flop is A 7 2 rainbow, your hand strength is the middle pair you lose to the top pairs, but you beat the bottom pairs.
- Bottom pair - If your pair is made with the lowest card on the board, your hand strength is that of a humble bottom pair. Your hand only beats high cards. You lose to the chad top pairs. You even lose to the middling pairs. Heck, you even lose to a bottom pair with a better kicker than you. Speaking of kickers...
Say on a board of A 7 2 9 J rainbow you have AK offsuit and your opponent has AQ offsuit. You both have a top pair, so who is winning here? Is this a tie?
No, it is not. Let's examine the strongest five card-made hands for both players. Hero with AK offsuit has the strongest hand of A-A-K-J-9 while villain with AQ offsuit has the strongest hand of A-A-Q-J-9. We can clearly see that our K is bigger than our opponent's Q, and this tiebreaker card used in case two or more opponents have the same hand strength is known as a kicker. So, in this case, because our K high kicker beats our opponent Q high kicker, we win! But if we both had AQ offsuit or AK offsuit, this pot would be chopped or divided equally.
When you have two pairs on a given board in your five card hand, you are said to have two par (duh!). For example, if you have AK Offsuit and the flop is A K 6 offsuit you have two pairs as your strongest hand here as your strongest 5 card hand here is A-A-K-K-6. But what if your opponent has A6 offsuit, who wins now!
It's simple, you both have the ace pair, so moving on to the next pair, while you have a pair of kings, and your opponent only has a pair of sixes, so you win. But what if your opponent had K6 offsuit and you had AK offsuit, here you win based on just having the highest pair, pair of Aces, without even needing to compare the second pair. If you have the highest pair when both of you have two pairs, you win. If your first pair is identical, the person with the higher second pair wins.
Three of a kind
When you have three cards of the same value in your 5 card hand, your hand strength is that of three of a kind. For example, If you have 2-7 offsuit and the board is 4 7 7 rainbow you have three of a kind. But if you have AA and the board is A 7 8 offsuit, you have a set here, which is what a three of a kind is called when it is made with a pocket pair you were dealt even though they are the same value in terms of hand strength. Higher card three of a kind beats lower card three of kind, in case both players make three of a kind with a card of the same value, say you have A7 and your opponent has K7 and the board runs 2 7 7 offsuit, the player with the higher kicker in this case, you, wins the hand.
A straight is five consecutive cards with no space in between. For example, if you have a JT offsuit and the flop is KQA offsuit, you have a straight because your 5 card made hand is T J Q K A, which is five consecutive cards with no gap in between. Depending on what card you made your straight with on any given board, you can have the nut straight or the bottom straight. As an example, on the flop T 9 8 offsuit, if you have 67 offsuit you have the bottom straight, but if you have JQ offsuit you have the top straight or the nut straight, if you had J7 here you would make the rarely seen middling straight!.
A flush is a combination of 5 cards of the same suit, you can make a flush in no-limit hold’em with one or both of your hole cards depending on how many cards of the same suit are present on the board.
For example, if you have Ah Th and the flop is 2h 3h 7h (h stands for hearts), you have a flush as you have 5 cards of the same suit, which are Ah Th 7h 3h 2h. Giving you an Ace-high flush. If two players hold a flush, the winner is decided by whose flush contains the highest card, if the highest card is common to both flushes, the winner is determined based on the second highest card.
When your hand consists of both a pair and three of a kind, you have a full house. You can make a full house using one or both of your cards. As is obvious, you can only make full houses on boards with a pair in them. For example, if you AK offsuit and the flop is A K K offsuit, you have a full house. As your five-card made contains three kings and a pair of aces. If two opponents both have a full house, the player with the higher card three of a kind in his full house wins, if they both made their three of a kind with a card of the same value, the player with the bigger pair wins.
Four of a kind
Now we are starting to get into the really strong and rare hands. Four of a kind as you might have guessed by its name is a hand you make when you have four identical cards in your 5 hand combination. For example, if you have JJ and the flop is JJ9 you have four of a kind as your five-card made hand is J J J J 9. In case two players have four of a kind, the player with the higher card four of a kind wins. For example on the board J J 9 9 2 offsuit if you have 99 and your opponent has JJ, he wins because his four jacks beat your four nines, and so on.
Five consecutive cards of the same suit with no gaps in between are known as a straight flush. It is the second strongest hand in no-limit hold 'em beaten only by the best hand in no limit hold’em (we are getting to it). For example, if you have 9h 8h and the flop is QJ Jh Th, you have a straight flush as your five consecutive cards with no gaps in between, that is 8h 9h Th Jh Qh are of the same suit. Straight flushes can only be beaten by straight flushes made with higher cards, can you guess what straight could beat your current hand in this example? Here’s a hint, It’s also the strongest and rarest hand in no-limit Holdem
The big baddie of no-limit hold’em and by far the rarest hand you will possess, a royal flush is a be-all, end-all in no-limit Holdem. It is defined as having T to A with no gaps in between of the same suit in your hand combination. For example, if your opponent has 8h 9h and you have Ah Kh and the board is Qh Jh Th you will win this hand as your opponent's hand is 8h 9h Th Jh Qh and your hand is Ak Kh Qh Jh Th and you have a royal flush. An unbeatable hand. Also poor opponent. I should really stop bullying them.
Alright then, with that you know understand how hand rankings work in Texas no-limit hold’em. Now you can start joining the tables you wanted to play and know where you are at in terms of hand strength, best of luck!