A newbie’s guide to poker hands from experts who know

Poker Hands Guide - Expert Advice

New to poker? Then the first thing you need to arm yourself with is information. Not information about your opponents (though that’ll definitely help). We’re talking about information about winning poker hands so that you can gain a competitive edge from the start.

Understanding Texas Hold em hands and the rank of poker hands for all games is important. But it’s also important to understand when to play the hands you’re dealt. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from the poker hand order to how to play various types of hands based on your position at the tables.

Poker Hand Rankings

You will show your poker greatness by the hands you fold, not the hands you play.” – Dan Reed.

The key to giving off a pro vibe starts with actually knowing what beats what. If you find yourself sitting at a table and you need to consult a poker hand chart, you might come across as a bit of a newbie. There’s good news, though. At online poker sites like Americas Cardroom, no one can see what’s happening in your world. That means you can keep a poker hands ranking chart handy and consult it to figure out if you’ve got the highest poker hand. This is a poker hands solution you’ll want to print out.

Poker hands hierarchy from best to worst:

Poker Hands Chart

Types of hands to beat in online poker

It’s not always easy for a newbie to memorize Texas Holdem hands and recognize their poker hand strength without a little guidance. That’s why we’ve put together another system to help you recall the best poker hands. If you’re more comfortable remembering this over a poker hands rank chart, the below should definitely help.

  • A pair beats a high card
  • Two pair beats a one pair
  • Three-of-a-kind beats a two pair
  • Straight beats a three-of-a-kind
  • Flush beats a straight
  • Full house beats a flush
  • Four-of-a-kind beats a full house
  • Straight flush beats a four-of-a-kind
  • Royal Flush beats a straight flush

Winning poker hands of every WSOP Main Event Champion

Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” – Jack London

Take a look at the final hand of every WSOP Main Event championship of the last few decades and you might assume that holding pocket Kings or Tens, or at least one Ace or King plus a high card is needed to win. And while that might seem like the case on the surface, just remember that in poker, anything can happen.

Look at Joe Hachem, who won the 2005 World Series of Poker with 7c 3s. Or Americas Cardroom’s very own Chris Moneymaker, who ignited the online poker revolution back in 2003 by turning an online satellite win at a major online poker site into a WSOP Main Event championship ring. He won that tournament with a 5d 4s.

A trip down memory lane will show you that the highest hand in poker isn’t necessarily needed to win a tournament, especially when you’ve played smart leading up to that final hand.

WSOP Champions
Download the WSOP Winners PDF LIst

But it’s not all about what you’re holding. It’s about knowing how to play what you’re holding and identifying good poker hands. So today, we’re going to walk you through some tips on how to play your poker hand, based on your position at the table.

How to know what poker hands to play

Poker Hands - WSOP Champion

Figuring out whether the cards you hold are good enough to qualify for a winning poker hand should rely on a gut feeling. Remember, not all poker hands are created equal. That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide to help you identify what types of poker hands to play in various situations.

If the action is folded to you and you’re holding something that you feel is good enough to play, then don’t just stick to your guns. Come out with guns blazing and raise. If you don’t love your hand enough to raise, then consider folding. Why? Because if you stayed in, your opponents would be able to identify that you’re holding a less than stellar hand, something that limping in would signal to your competition. What’s more, by raising, you’re forcing your opponents to push more chips into the pot pre-flop when you’re sitting on something solid.

How to calculate hand strength poker

Poker Hands - Calculate Strength

Need a handy chart to figure our poker starting hands and your poker hand strength? Use this guide as a reference as you play poker online.

What hand do you have? What happened before you? Are you in early position? Are you in middle position? Are you in late position? Are you one of the blinds?
AA, KK, QQ All players folded Raise Raise Raise Raise
AA, KK, QQ Players called Raise Raise Raise Raise
AA, KK, QQ 1 player raised Raise Raise Raise Raise
JJ, TT All players folded Raise Raise Raise Raise
JJ, TT Players called Raise Raise Raise Raise
JJ, TT 1 player raised Call20 Call20 Call20 Call20
99, 88, 77, All players folded Fold Call Raise Call
66, 55, 44, Players called Fold Call Call Call
33, 22 1 player raised Call20 Call20 Call20 Call20
AK offsuit, AK suited All players folded Raise Raise Raise Raise
AK offsuit, AK suited Players called Raise Raise Raise Raise
AK offsuit, AK suited 1 player raised Raise Raise Raise Raise
AQ offsuit, AQ suited All players folded Fold Raise Raise Raise
AJ offsuit, AJ suited Players called Fold Fold Raise Call
AT offsuit, AT suited 1 player raised Fold Fold Fold Fold
A9 suited, A8 suited, A7 suited All players folded Fold Fold Raise Raise
A6 suited, A5 suited, A4 suited Players called Fold Fold Call Call
A3 suited, A2 suited 1 player raised Fold Fold Fold Fold
KQ suited, KJ suited, KT suited All players folded Fold Fold Raise Raise
QJ suited, QT suited Players called Fold Fold Fold Call
JT suited 1 player raised Fold Fold Fold Fold
KQ offsuit, KJ offsuit, KT offsuit, All players folded Fold Fold Raise Raise
QJ offsuit, QT offsuit Players called Fold Fold Fold Call
JT offsuit 1 player raised Fold Fold Fold Fold
T9 suited, 98 suited All players folded Fold Fold Raise Fold
87 suited, 76 suited Players called Fold Call Call Call
65 suited, 54 suited 1 player raised Fold Fold Fold Fold
Other hands not mentioned All players folded Fold Fold Fold Fold
Other hands not mentioned Players called Fold Fold Fold Fold
Other hands not mentioned 1 player raised Fold Fold Fold Fold
Get the Poker Hand Strength Here!

Poker Hands FAQs

What is the order for poker hands?

If you’re asking what are the best hands in poker, this should help (from best to worst): Royal Straight Flush, Straight Flush, Four of a Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three of a Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, High Card.

What is the highest ranking poker hand?

The highest-ranking poker hand in Texas Hold’em and other variations of poker is a Royal Flush. But winning hands in Texas Holdem isn’t determined by the hand ranking system. They’re determined by how well you play.

Remember, you can be sitting with a three of a kind and bluff your way to victory against someone who has a straight simply by bluffing them out of the hand.

What is the second best hand in poker?

The second-best hand in poker, after a Royal Flush, is a Straight Flush. It’s very much the same as a Royal Flush in that this poker hand rank also includes cards of the exact same suit, in sequential order. The difference? The highest possible card in this hand is a King (because an Ace would make that a Royal Flush).

How do I know how to rank poker hands?

Just use the poker hand rank chart on this page to guide you. It’ll help you identify if you have the worst hand in poker or if you’re doing much better than you thought.

What is the best poker hand?

It’s definitely a Royal Flush. And if you’re sitting on that, you are absolutely unbeatable. Congrats!

What is the worst hand in poker?

When it comes to Texas Hold’em, the worst hand in terms of poker cards is 2-7 offsuit. Why is it so bad? In a nutshell, there are very few good options for you off the bat. You have no straight draw or the possibility of a flush draw. And if you do end up hitting a pair of 7s or 2s, you’re probably still not very likely to have the best hand.

That’s not to say that it’s impossible to win with 2-7 offsuit. You could very well get the cards you need to win, especially if you hit trip 7s or trip 2s. But at the end of the day, the odds are against you.

Should you only play top hands in poker?

Great question. And that’s not exactly one we can answer in an FAQ. The truth is the hands you should play depends on your position.

Are you on the button? In early position? In middle position? These are important factors that’ll help you figure out how to play your poker hands. See our in-depth section above for everything you need to know.