Hand Variance Control

How to Play Poker Hands

Ever watched the World Series of Poker on TV? Fun right?

The poker community has been growing daily, mainly because everyone just can’t get enough of this intense strategy-filled card game!

Online poker and land-based casinos alike are packed with poker players ready to get in on those cash games and tournaments.

If you’re still a beginner at poker, you’re in for a treat! We’ve come up with this poker guide on how you can play the best poker hands possible. To master this is the key to your poker success.

Getting Started

Before getting into any poker action, there are some things you have to prepare, and poker rules, terms, and basics you have to be familiar with.


If you’re playing poker with just a few friends at home, you’re going to need at least a deck of cards and a poker table.

Your number of decks will depend on how many poker players there will be.

If you’re playing for money, make sure to have your cash ready too. If you’re just playing poker for practice, some poker guides could come in handy.

If you’re playing poker at a land-based casino, the most important thing to prepare is your bankroll. Make sure you’re ready to get into that poker room confident about your poker strategies too.

If you’re playing an online poker tournament, then all you need is your bank deposit to get started, and a competent gaming environment free of distractions.

You can opt to use your computer desktop or even on your mobile devices.

Poker Lingo

Familiarizing yourself with the following poker terms will surely help you make decisive actions and increase your probabilities of winning a game. Here are the important ones to remember:

Basic Terms

  1. Ante – this is the small bet poker players make to ensure a minimum pot at the start before any cards are dealt; “Pay to Play.”
  2. Pot – this is the sum of money after all antes, bets, raises, and re-raises that are made. Poker players win when the hand is finished.
  3. Dealer – the person who distributes the cards. In online poker, a virtual dealer, also known as the computer program, does the random card simulations.
  4. Bluff – the act of betting or raising to appear strong with the intention of influencing other poker players out of the game. You often bluff in poker rooms when you are holding a bad hand, not in the position to win.
  5. Draw – to improve your hand into something considerably stronger like a flush or straight, by drawing the required cards on the flop, on the turn or on the river.
  6. Cap – the limit on the number of raises allowed in a betting round of poker. It’s usually three or four.
  7. Pocket Pairs – this is when two of a player’s hole cards form a pair in community poker like Texas Hold’em and in stud poker.
  8. Pre-Flop – when players are already dealt with their pocket cards, but no flop has been put on the board yet.
  9. Flop – the first three cards face-up dealt on the board.
  10. Turn – the fourth of five cards dealt with a community card board that poker players can use to make their final hand.
  11. River – the final card dealt in a poker hand and is followed by a final round of betting.

Poker Player Actions

  1. Bet – to make the first wager.
  2. Call – to pay the same amount of the previous better and go to the next round.
  3. Check – to bet nothing and to pass the action onto the next poker player.
  4. Raise – to make a second wager by doubling it after a player has made a bet.
  5. Re-raise – to raise after one has been raised, making a third wager.
  6. Check-raise – a deceptive play where an opponent initially checks with the intention of raising should be another player bet.
  7. Fold – to get out of a hand and forfeit interests in the pot.

Poker Hands

Poker hand rankings are based on the study of odds and mathematics on how to make poker hands exactly, win the pot, and the opponents’ convincing powers of making you aware of the hand they are holding.

The best poker hands are those lesser likely to make.

Hands of poker consist of five cards made up of either yours alone or with community cards.

If you have more than five cards to choose from, choose the best five cards available to beat your opponents, after pre-flop.

The following are the different poker hands you can play, whether in online poker or in land-based poker rooms. The poker hand range is ranked in order from strongest to weakest.

Five of a kind

Five of a kind is the best poker hand you can get to make you a winner.

A five of a kind ranks above a royal flush but is only possible when you use a wildcard, as there are only four cards of each rank, one per suit, in a deck.

A joker, for example, could be taken as a fifth ace to form five of a kind, aces, A-A-A-A-Joker.

Other wild card rules designate cards to represent any card in the deck to make it possible to form 5 of a kind of any rank. ‘

The higher the rank of a five of a kind, the stronger the poker hand.

Royal Flush

In standard poker games, this is the best poker hand to guarantee your winnings and get your name up on the leaderboards!

This is the highest hand of straight flush comprising of an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and a 10 (A-K-Q-J-10) all of the same suit.

If you have this, you’ll want to bet higher, as this is very hard to beat. Odds are 650,000 to 1!

Straight Flush

Five cards of consecutive ranks of the same suit is a straight flush. Every straight flush is ranked according to its highest ranking card.

For example, J-10-9-8-7 ranks higher than 8-7-6-5-4. But straight flush hands that differ in suit alone are of equal rank. The odds for this poker hand selection is 75,000 to 1.

Four of a Kind

When you are in a situation where you have four out of five cards of the same rank, regardless of suit, you have yourself a “quad”.

If two or more players have quads, the best poker hand would be the one with the higher ranking set of four.

Examples of four of a kind hands would be: 7-7-7-7-J or 10-10-10-10-J. In this case, the latter would beat the former.

In situations where players have the same set of four, the kicker card will determine the rank. 2-2-2-2-K will beat a 2-2-2-2-5 four of a kind. The odds for having four of a kind hand are 4,150 to 1.

Full House

Next to a four of a kind is when you experience having three out of five cards of the same rank and the other two cards of another rank regardless of suit.

In essence, it is a three of a kind and one pair.

In case more than one player gets a full house, poker hands are first ranked by the ranking of its triplet, then by its pair.

For example, an 8-8-8-7-7 beats a 5-5-5-9-9; while a J-J-J-10-10 beats a J-J-J-8-8. Odds for a full house are 700 to 1.


Five cards of the same suit that don’t fall in consecutive ranks is a flush. If there is more than one flush at the poker showdown, the flush with the highest card wins.

In positions, however, where the flushes are identical, which means all 5 cards are of the same rank, but the opponent’s are a different suit, this will result in a split pot.

For example, hearts of 10-8-5-4-A would beat hearts of 9-7-6-3-2. But a hand of either hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs of K-Q-J-10-9 will be of equal rank. Flush odds are 500 to 1.


A straight is five cards of consecutive ranks but in varying suits.

To play the highest straight, you would need to have an A-K-Q-J-10. This Ace-high straight is often called a “Broadway straight.” While the lowest straight known as a “wheel” would be a 5-4-3-2-A.

A straight is ranked by the value of its highest-ranking card. A K-Q-J-10-9 of varying suits would beat a J-10-9-8-7. Odds for straights are 250 to 1.

Three of a Kind

Also known as a “set” or “trips,” three of a kind is having three out of the five cards of the same rank, and the other two cards of different ranks.

Each three of a kind is ranked firstly by its triplet, then by its highest-ranking kicker, then finally by its lowest-ranking kicker.

A 2-2-2-K-Q, for example, would beat a 2-2-2-10-5. Odds for three of a kind poker hands are 47 to 1.

In Texas Hold’em poker, a three of a kind is only called a set when it comprises a pocket pair and a third card on the board.

Two Pair

A two pair poker hand is composed of two cards of one rank, another two cards of another rank, and one kicker of a third rank, like an A-A-5-5-9.

In this example, the 9 as the kicker determines who wins in case another player has the same pair of pairs. If they also have the same kicker, the pot is shared.

Each two pair is ranked first by its highest-ranking pair, followed by the second pair, then lastly by its kicker.

For example, a 10-10-2-2-K two pair ranks higher than 6-6-5-5-9, which ranks higher than 6-6-4-4-8, which ranks higher than 6-6-4-4-3. Odds are 20 to 1.

One Pair

One pair is two of the five cards having equal rank while the other three have different ranks regardless of suit.

Each pair is firstly ranked by the rank of its pair, then by its highest raking kicker and so on, and so forth in case two or more players have the same pair.

For example, 8-8-Q-9-K ranks higher than 6-6-Q-3-K, which ranks higher than 6-6-10-9-7. The odds of getting a pair are 2 to 5.

High Card

This happens when basically nothing fits anything mentioned above. You basically have nothing.

You have five cards of different ranks, not all consecutive and not all of the same suit. In a poker showdown of two hands of nothing, the highest card wins. If they are identical, the second highest is compared, and so on and so forth. Odds are 1 to 1.

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Poker

Online poker may not be as intimidating as being in the presence of an actual dealer in a poker room.

Iif you want to take advantage of all the poker bonus deals at an online poker site, know the basics and steps of the game:

Step 1: Know the Hands in Poker and their Rankings

Whether you play online poker or in a physical casino, all ten basic poker hands remain the same.

For beginners, we advise you to print out a “cheat sheet” and study it. Always aim for the highest-ranking hand, the royal flush, as much as possible.

Keep in mind that when two or more people face off with the same hand, the player with the higher ranking cards wins.

If their hands have the exact same rank but in various suits, it’s a tie, and the pots are split.

Step 2: Place the Blinds

In Texas Hold’em poker variant, the player next to the dealer makes a small blind bet, while the player to that person’s left places a big blind that’s at least the minimum’s.

Pre-flop,early position is the first player to call the Big Blind.

Late position refers to the players who will act last.

Other poker rules also prefer each player to “ante up” by placing a minimum starting bet into the pot lot. Players can call, raise, or fold when it’s their turn to bet.

Step 3: Check your Starting Hands

The dealer will “burn” the first card on the deck. This means he places it out to play to prevent cheating in case anyone accidentally saw the top card. He then passes out two cards to each player.

Some starting hands are better than others.

A starting hands chart will come in handy to help you decide pre-flop which cards are worth playing.

To successfully play a poker game, never show your hands to anyone else until the showdown.

Even if a player is out, you don’t want them to accidentally or even purposely reveal the value of your cards, more especially if you have a royal flush. This is not much of a worry in online poker though.

Step 4: Check the Flops

The dealer then flips the succeeding three cards face-up on the table.

You can use these community cards to build and improve your starting hand, with the goal in mind to form the best hand possible.

Post flop, another round of betting takes place beginning with the player to the left of the poker dealer. He is called “the button.”

In every round of betting, players can check, call, raise or fold when it’s their turn to bet.

Step 5: Check the Turn

At this stage in your poker game, the dealer burns another card and will then play one more face-up card.

This card is called the “turn” or “fourth street.” Check all your private cards and the cards on the table. Consider both suit and rank.

Think of the possible hands you or other players might have.

If you have three fives, for example, it’s good to position to either a full house or a three of a kind.

If you have a suit with a few ranks already in sequence, maybe you’ll be in luck and play a straight. Evaluate then whether you want to bet, call, or raise.

If you find that you have very low chances of getting the winning hand, then you may want to fold.

Step 6: Check the River and Decide on the Hand You’ll Play

At this phase, the table stakes are getting higher. After the dealer burns the top card of the deck again, they’ll play one last card face-up.

This is called the “river” or the “fifth street.” The pressure is on for you to have this last chance to improve the strength of your 5-card hand. Then bet, call or fold.

Step 7: Reveal your Hand

After each player calls, folds, or bets in the last round, all remaining players will be welcomed into the “poker showdown.”

Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, he will then reveal his hand. Once every player and every hand has been shown, these are then compared.

If someone has a royal flush, for example, he automatically wins the entire pot.

Whoever has the highest-ranking hand reigns as poker champion! If a tie occurs, the pot is split. A player who has folded his hand need not show his cards.

What are the Best Poker Starting Hands?

According to their winning odds, here are the top ten starting hands you could possibly have starting with the highest:

  1. Ace-Ace (AA), “Pocket Rockets”
  2. Pair of Kings (KK), “Cowboys”
  3. Pair of Queens (QQ), “Ladies”
  4. Suited Ace-King (AK), “Big Slick
  5. Suited Ace-Queen (AQ), “Little Slick”
  6. Pair of Jacks (JJ), “Fish Hooks”
  7. Suited King-Queen (KQ), “Royal Couple”
  8. Suited Ace-Jack (AJ), “Blackjack”
  9. Offsuit Ace-King (AK)
  10. Pair of Tens (10-10), “Dimes”

Pocket pairs are two cards of the same rank, regardless of suit. Suited pairs are cards with the same suit, while offsuits have different suits.


Knowledge and experience will help you develop the skill to know how and when to play every possible poker hand.

Even when you’ve mastered all this, and all the poker strategies, a poker game is nonetheless dependent on situation and player opponents.

By reading this article, we hope to have increased your confidence in playing poker in any way.

For any questions on poker hands and similar poker topics the answers can be found here, don’t hesitate to leave us a message below!

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