1) The best possible hand is a royal flush: the ace, king, queen, jack, and ten, all of one suit.

2) The next best hand is a straight flush, comprised of 5 cards in sequence and all the same suit, ranked by the highest card. The smallest possible straight flush is made of 5, 4, 3, 2, ace all of one suit. Notice that the ace can be used as a 1 to complete a straight as well as being the highest card in the deck.

3) Next is 4-of-a-kind, or quads—four cards all of the same rank. Four kings always lose to 4 aces and always beat 4 queens. The kicker is always unimportant when you have one of the quad cards as one of your hole cards.

4) Next is a full house, 3-of-a-kind plus a pair. The highest possible full house is AAAKK and the lowest possible hand is 22233. Full houses are always ranked by the three cards of the same rank first, and the pair secondly.

5) Next is a flush, consisting of five cards of any suit. The strongest flush is A, K, Q, J, 9 of one suit. The smallest possible flush is 7, 5, 4, 3, 2 all of one suit. Suits have no bearing on the strength of a flush. If you hold the ace of any suit in your hand and make a flush with it, you’ll have the best possible flush, known as the nut flush, unless a straight flush is possible, and the best possible hand, unless the board is paired.

6) Straights are next and consist of five cards in a row of any suit.

7) 3-of-a-kind is still a very strong holding and it comes next. The biggest 3-of-a-kind is AAA and the smallest is 222. In hold ’em, there are three ways to make 3-of-a-kind. The first is when the board shows 3-of-a-kind. This is the weakest 3-of-a-kind to have, as all your opponents will have it also; if it comes to the side cards, your best possible holding would be AK. If someone has better than this (any pair), he has a full house, which beats 3-of-a-kind.

The second way to make three of a kind is to hold one of a category in your hand and have two matching cards appear on the board. This is called “trips” and is a strong holding.

The final way to have 3-of-a-kind is to make a “set.” This means that you hold a pocket pair and another of that same denomination appears on the board. This is a very powerful holding and often results in a lot of action, since the strength of your hand is disguised.

8) 2-pair is the next strongest hand. The highest possible 2-pair is AAKK and the lowest possible 2-pair is 3322; you often hear 2-pair described as the bigger pair first as in “aces up or in our second example, “threes up.”

This could be read as “nines up,” although sometimes you’ll hear “2-pair” or “nines over fours.”

9) The highest one pair hand is ace-ace and the lowest possible pair is 22. Many hold ’em hands are won by one pair.

10) “No pair” is the last stop for our valuations. The best possible no pair is AKQJ9 of more than one suit.

Never assume that you have a winner or that you’re beaten on the river. The safest thing to do in every case is to turn your hand face up on the table. online, if your hand is still live, the best hand will be chosen automatically by the computer.


  1. In ascending order, with each hand that follows being able to beat all the hands that are mentioned before it, we have: no pair, one pair, 2-pair, 3-of-a-kind, straight, flush, full house, quads, straight flush, and royal flush.
  2. You’ll make some full houses, but the hands that beat full houses are quite rare. Don’t expect to see quads and straight flushes in every play! Some people play for years before they make their first royal flush.
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