With few exceptions, all poker games place hands on the same
scale from high- to low-value. Poker hands are ranked depending
on their likelihood. The least-likely hands are the
highest-ranked; the most common hands are the lowest-ranked.
Identical poker hands are ranked by which hands holds cards of
the highest value.
Poker Hand Rank
Here is the standard hand rank, from highest to lowest:
A royal flush is a hand where all the cards are of the same suit and the 5 highest cards in consecutive order (10, J, Q, K, A). This hand is the best hand that you can get in the game of Texas Hold’em.
A straight flush is a hand where all the cards are of the same suit and are in consecutive order. For example, a 23456, all of hearts, is a straight flush. In the event of a tie, the straight flush with the highest card wins.
A 4 of a kind is a hand where 4 of the 5 cards are of the same ranking. An example of a hand with a 4 of a kind might have KKKK2. That would be the 2 in every suit–clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades. In the event of a tie, the 4 of a kind with the highest hand ranking wins.
A full house is a hand that consists of 3 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank. An example of a full house might look like this: KKKQQ. In the event of a tie, the hand with the higher cards in the 3 cards is the winner.
A flush is a hand that consists of 5 cards of the same suit—clubs, diamonds, hearts, or spades. In the event of a tie, the flush with the highest card is the winner.
A straight is a hand where all 5 cards of consecutive ranks. 23456 is an example of a straight. In the event of a tie, the straight with the highest card is the winner.
A 3 of a kind is a hand where 3 of the cards are of the same rank, but the other 2 cards are of a different rank. In the event of a tie, the hand with the higher ranked cards wins. An example of a 3 of a kind would be 666104.
2 pairs is a hand where you have 2 cards of one rank and 2 cards of another rank along with a final card of another rank. An example of 2 pairs might look like this: AAKK7.In the event of a tie, the hand with the highest pair wins.
1 pair is a hand where you 2 cards of one rank and 3 cards with different ranks. An example of a pair might look like this: JJ278. In the event of a tie, the higher ranked pair wins.
High card means a hand where none of the other hand rankings apply. If no one still in the hand can make a pair or better, the player with the highest card in his hand wins the pot.
Playing a live game of poker requires that you know this
hierarchy. For new players, this may seem a little daunting.
After all, here you have nine pieces of complex information to
remember in precise order.
A Word About Mnemonic Devices
I learned the order of poker hands using a mnemonic. I think
anyone can use this simple method to learn the hierarchy in a
matter of minutes. Mnemonics are popular memory devices used by
students, teachers, and people of all stripes for hundreds of
years in order to remember complex information.
You probably used a mnemonic device to remember the order of
the planets in our solar system. I remember learning the
sentence: “My very excellent mother just served us nine pizzas.”
The first letter of each of the words in that sentence will help
you remember that the planets go in this order – Mercury, Venus,
Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto. I’ll
probably never forget that fact, thanks to the mnemonic device I
The trouble is, it’s hard to convert hand rankings into
words. Besides that, I don’t think you learn much about poker by
simply memorizing the order of hands. You should use the
opportunity of needing to learn proper hand hierarchy to improve
your understanding of poker strategy.
The tips below will help you understand the proper order of
poker hands better and introduce you to some basic poker
concepts to help you improve your overall game.
Low-Value Poker Hands
To remember the order of the four lowest-value hands, just
remember the number series “0, 1, 2, 3.”
0 means “high card.” Having nothing in your hand means
the value of your hand depends on the value of your highest
card. Remember – in poker, aces rank high, while 2’s rank
1 means “one pair.” Any hand that contains just a single
pair of cards and nothing else valuable is a 1.
2 means “two pair.” This is a hand that contains two
pairs of cards.
3 means “three-of-a-kind.” It’s the most valuable of the
High-Value Poker Hands
For the purpose of this post, I’m calling every hand above a
three-of-a-kind a “high-value hand,” but lots of poker
strategists would consider a straight to be a low-value hand.
This is really a difference in philosophy and a language issue
more than anything else.
For that reason, and for simplicity’s sake, I like to think
of straight as a “/” symbol in my mnemonic. That means our
current mnemonic string goes: “0, 1, 2, 3, /.”
It’s easier to memorize the order of the other high-ranking
hands if you count the number of letters in the hand’s name.
It’s made all the easier to remember by the fact that the number
of letters increases as you move up the scale.
Here’s how I break it down:
5 – The word flush contains five letters.
9 – The words full house contain nine letters.
11 – The words four of a kind contain eleven letters.
13 – The words straight flush contain thirteen letters.
18 – The words royal straight flush contain eighteen
Putting them all together, our mnemonic is: “0 – 1 – 2 – 3 /
5 – 9 – 11 – 13 – 18.”
Other Ways to Memorize Hand Hierarchy
I’m not going to pretend that the method I used to learn hand
hierarchy is the only one that will work. The three ideas below
are the most popular tactics on the Web besides the use of
mnemonics, based on my research. You can use any of the four
methods described on this post to keep track of what hand beats
what other hand. That way, you’ll be able to plan your tactics
ahead of time and make smart bidding decisions.
Some people learn best by repeated drilling of the material
to be memorized. I’ve heard of actors reading their scripts over
and over, playing tapes of the script in their sleep, and
learning their lines by rote. I can’t think of any reason why
you shouldn’t try this method.
Hand Evaluation Diagrams
Various poker trainer programs and strategy gurus have put
together diagrams to help you analyze your hand. You can use
these in poker rooms, and obviously you can use them online, so
long as you don’t care about the other guys at the table making
fun of you. They’re available for free with a simple Google
The more rounds of poker you play, the more you’ll become
familiar with all the rules, including the rules of hand
ranking. You may lose a bunch on the way there, because of your
lack of familiarity with hand ranks, but, by God, you’ll get it
Remember that some poker variations assign different values
to cards and hands. Some games are totally reversed, rewarding
the lowest-value hand instead of the highest-value one. Other
games may consider an Ace to be low, or use Jokers, which throws
off the hierarchy and strategy a bit.
I hope that this page helped you learn about the value of the
cards you’re dealt. I believe the best way to practice your
newfound understanding of hand hierarchy is to get out there and
play a bunch of poker. If you’re still new to the game and not
yet comfortable with your understanding of hand rankings, you
can always play in free-to-play apps or use play-money at your
favorite online poker room.
The information found on Gamblingsites.org is for entertainment purposes only. It is a purely informational website that does not accept wagers of any kind. Although certain pages within Gamblingsites.org feature or promote other online websites where users are able to place wagers, we encourage all visitors to confirm the wagering and/or gambling regulations that are applicable in their local jurisdiction (as gambling laws may vary in different states, countries and provinces).
Gamblingsites.org uses affiliates links from some of the sportsbooks/casinos it promotes and reviews, and we may receive compensation from those particular sportsbooks/casinos in certain circumstances. Gamblingsites.org does not promote or endorse any form of wagering or gambling to users under the age of 18. If you believe you have a gambling problem, please visit BeGambleAware or GAMCARE for information and help.