Best to Worst Poker Hands Ranking

  1. Royal Flush

    Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Ten, all of the same suit

  2. Straight Flush

    Five consecutive cards, all of the same suit

  3. Four of a Kind

    Four cards of the same rank (also known as quads)

  4. Full House

    Three cards of the same rank, plus two cards both of another rank (also known as a boat)

  5. Flush

    Five cards of the same suit

  6. Straight

    Five consecutive cards


  7. Three of a Kind

    Three cards of the same rank (also known as a set when using two hole cards, or trips when using one hole card)

  8. Two Pair

    Two cards of the same rank, plus two cards both of another rank

  9. Pair

    Two cards of the same rank

  10. High Card

    Any five cards that don’t fall into the above categories

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How to Evaluate Poker Hands

When you’re playing any of the three flop games at Bovada Poker (Texas Hold’em, Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo), you’ll be starting with either two or four hole cards, so you won’t have a full 5-card poker hand until the community cards are dealt. You’ll have to judge your hole cards by how promising they are – we’ll get to that later on with our online poker tips for “starting hands.” Then, once the flop comes, you have to mentally arrange those three community cards with your hole cards and see not only what your best 5-card hand is right now, but also how your hand might improve on the turn and river.

This is relatively easy to do in Texas Hold’em. In this game, you know exactly what your 5-card hand is when the flop comes: your two hole cards, plus the three community cards. In Omaha, because you must use exactly two of your four hole cards, you actually have six different ways to make a 5-card hand on the flop.

It’s going to take some practice to get this right. There will be times when you think you have a Flush, but you don’t – like in Omaha, where there are four Diamonds on the board and only one in your hand. You’re also going to get caught thinking you have the best Full House possible, only to have someone beat you with a better Full House when the board pairs. The more hands you play, the more automatic this process will become for you, so don’t be afraid to make these mistakes as a beginner.

Split Pot

Learning how to win poker glory as a beginner can be extra-tricky when you’re just learning the concept of a split pot. There are times when more than one person gets the chips at the end of a hand; if two or more players have exactly the same hand strength at showdown, they get to divide the pot evenly amongst themselves (also known as a chopped pot).

The Kicker

Most players are fairly comfortable with the concept of kickers – the cards that act as tie-breakers in hands that otherwise have the same value. For example, if you and your opponent in Hold’em each have Two Pair, Aces and Eights, whoever has the higher-ranking fifth card wins the hand. But kickers can also determine the winner of a hand in very sneaky fashion.

Let’s say you’re playing Hold’em, you’ve got Ace-Five, your opponent has pocket Eights, and for whatever reason, both of you went all-in pre-flop. The flop comes Nine-Nine-Deuce, so your opponent still has the better hand. The turn is a Ten, which still doesn’t change things. But then the river is another Ten. You have just magically won the hand – you have counterfeited your opponent. Confused? Look at the cards: The best hand either player can make is Two Pair, Tens and Nines, but you have the Ace kicker, and your opponent only has an Eight. You’ll end up on both sides of this equation quite a lot as you play more hands, so learn to recognize it and be prepared.

How to Win a Hand of Poker

Now that you know a bit more about the top poker hands, it’s time to use that knowledge against your opponents. As we said earlier, when you get dealt your hole cards, you need to consider how promising they are; that is, the chances you have of winning the hand with these particular cards, in this particular situation. That means taking position and stack sizes into account, as well as your hole cards. Even after the flop, you’ll make many of these same calculations, measuring how the turn and/or the river might change your fortunes.

To better understand this, let’s focus on Texas Hold’em, the easiest (and still the most popular by far) of the three flop games at Bovada Poker. If you can wrap your head around this process in Hold’em, you can take those skills and apply them at the Omaha and Omaha Hi/Lo tables later on.

How to Make the Best Hand in Texas Hold’em

Every hand of Texas Hold’em begins with the pre-flop stage. The player farthest from the blinds is first to act; this position at the table is referred to as under the gun. Ideally, you’d like to open-raise and have everyone else fold, thus giving you the blinds (and antes, if there are any) uncontested. But the more players there are between you and the blinds, the more likely it is that someone will fight you for the pot. That’s why it’s important to start with your very best hands when you’re under the gun. As you get closer and closer to the button, you can open your range a little more, since there’s less chance you’ll face any resistance.

Once the first three community cards are dealt, and you’ve got your 5-card hand, pay close attention to the texture of the board. Are there a lot of high cards? How about suited and connected cards? Is there a pair on board? These factors will determine how likely it is your hand will improve – not only your hand, but your opponent’s as well. Maybe you’ve got Ace-Five of Diamonds and there are two Diamonds on the flop; now you have a nut Flush draw. Are those Diamonds a Deuce and a Four? Now you can also make a Straight if you catch a Three on the turn. You can even make a Straight Flush if it’s the Three of Diamonds. Every little bit helps when you’re trying to make the best hand.

Understanding the Different Starting Hands in Poker

When it comes to your hole cards, you want look for the same properties as when you’re reading the board texture. High cards are incredibly valuable in Hold’em, none more so than Aces. Paired cards are also valuable, since you’re guaranteed to have at least a Pair post-flop. High Pairs (Tens through Aces) are the most powerful starting hands in Hold’em, with Aces at the top. You can open, raise and re-raise pocket Aces with impunity from any position at the table.

If you don’t have a pair in your starting hand, high cards are still the best; preferably, those high cards will be suited and connected, like Ace-King suited. If you open with AKs and you make a Pair on the flop using one of your hole cards, you’ll have the best Pair possible: Top Pair Top Kicker (TPTK). AKs can also make the nut Flush, the nut Straight (also known as “Broadway”), or even a Royal Flush. This is another starting hand that you can raise and re-raise to your heart’s content.

As your starting hand loses these properties, it becomes harder to connect with the board and make the best 5-card hand. Baby pairs and smaller suited connectors like Seven-Six suited are still promising, but you have to be more careful with them; you might even want to fold pre-flop if you’re in early position. Again, the closer you are to the button, the more hands you can open with. It’s all about risk and reward – and knowing what your chances are.

Now that you know the hand rankings and what to do with them, let’s see what you’ve got. Hit the felt at Bovada Poker and test your new knowledge in a Play Money game or a freeroll tournament, then get ready to boss the real money poker tables. Let’s get those cards in the air.