Beginners Guide to Mastering Poker Hands

poker hands image
Royal Flush. Image Credit: Shutterstock

To become a true poker pro, you will need to gain a clear understanding of poker hands and how they are ranked.

Rules for poker and the method for ranking poker hands is easy to comprehend and pretty straightforward.  Our guide for poker hands is best suited for those who wish to brush up on the game or for beginners who want to understand how the game is played.  These skills can assist you in developing your individual poker-playing skills and serve as a handy reference.

Here are the ten different poker hands:

High Card

A high card is when you have only one high card and usually indicates that it is time to fold.

Two Pair

Two sets of pairs are, for example, two kings and two aces.  In this instance, the player would fill the hand with the three highest available cards.

Three of a Kind

As the name suggests, this hand has three of the same cards, with an additional two being the highest presented.


A poker player has a straight when their cards are sequential, albeit in different suits.  Aces are considered ones and can start a straight if followed by two.  An ace also follows the king.


A flush is a hand of five cards, all from the same suit.  The cards don’t have to follow any specific order and don’t need to be consecutive.  If two players have a flush simultaneously, the highest card is declared the winner.

Four of a Kind

This hand is completed with either the table cards or those already in your hand.  The hand consists of four cards that are the same (for example, four queens).  The cards understandably must come from different suits.

Straight Flush

Like a standard flush, all the cards must be the same suit.  Straight Flush is the same as a straight, although the cards are consecutive.  A straight flush is the second-best hand a player can have.

Royal Flush

The best hand a player can get during a poker game is a royal flush.  This hand is extremely rare and consists of a straight flush from ten to ace, all in the same suit.

Texas Hold’Em

In this poker game, the source where the cards come from doesn’t matter.  This means that players can create a hand from cards on the table or those being held.  This can include one card in hand and four on the table or two cards in hand and three on the table, etc.  A player could have a hand where all five cards are exclusively on the table.  But usually, when that happens, the opposing player would have just as good or possibly an even better hand.

Omaha Hold’Em

The rules are somewhat different in this game and might, at first, appear confusing.  This set has many features in common with Texas Hold’Em but distinguishable differences, too.  For example, most Omaha games have a pot limit, while Texas Hold’Em usually has no limits.

The first apparent aspect of the game in Omaha Hold’Em is that each player gets dealt four-hole cards instead of two.  Even so, you end up using only two cards.  When playing pot-limit Omaha (PLO), two-hold cards are merged with three cards from the pool to make a five-card hand.

An example is when a player has what appears to be a flush when they hold a king of clubs, ace of hearts, queen of spades, or jack of clubs, and the five cards in the community are the king of hearts, six of spades, three of hearts or two of hearts.  Subsequently, this is not considered a flush in PLO and is instead seen as a pair (kings) and an ace kicker.

Remarkably, there are over 311 million different ways to deal out five cards from a deck, and yet only 2,598,960 unique hands!  These figures seem enormous, and it all sounds more complicated than it actually is.  Remember that learning some ground rules and developing a viable strategy is the best way to become a successful poker player.