How to Remember Winning Poker Hands and Their Rank

The best way to remember poker hands and their ranking, is to break them into 2 halves.

The first half is the low rankings.

  • High card
  • 1 Pair
  • 2 Pair
  • 3 of a kind
  • Straight

This part is pretty easy.

Basically it’s 1, 2, 3, straight.

The straight is the straight line that divides the first half from the second half.

Visually it would look like this:

1 2 3 /

Representing 1 pair, 2 pair, 3 of a kind and Straight.

A straight is 5 cards in sequence.

How do you remember what a straight is?

A straight is a hand where all the cards are neighbors.

Next door neighbors to be exact.

Both straight and neighbors have an (IGH) in the middle.

Visually it would look like this.

straIGHt = neIGHbors

Back to the rankings

The cards in the second half are ranked as follows:

  • FLUSH
  • FULL HOUSE
  • FOUR OF A KIND
  • STRAIGHT FLUSH
  • ROYAL FLUSH

So how do you remember the card ranks for the second half and highest ranking poker hands?

Just memorize this little saying.

“FLUSH, a FULL, FOUR, or Second FLUSH, Required”

The best way to remember this saying is to imagine flushing you eye or skin with water.

This may sound hard at first but is very easy.

“FLUSH, a FULL, FOUR, or Second FLUSH, Required”

Representing

  • FLUSH
  • FULL HOUSE
  • FOUR OF A KIND
  • STRAIGHT FLUSH
  • ROYAL FLUSH

Pretty self explanatory except

Second FLUSH = Straight FLUSH and

Required =Royal flush

FLUSH, a FULL, FOUR, or Second FLUSH, Required

The easiest way to check that you have remembered the line correctly is to see that flush has 5 letters, full house has 9 letters, four of a kind has 11 letters and straight flush has 13 so they get progressively larger as you go up in ranking.

Tip. Count the letters in the word four not the #4 and a royal flush beats every other hand in poker.

“FLUSH, a FULL, FOUR, or Second FLUSH, Required”

Back to the Rankings.

FLUSH

A flush is a hand where all the cards are the same suit.

How do you remember what a flush is?

Both flush and suit have a U in them.

Visually it would look like this.

flUsh = sUit

Full House

A Full house is a pair and 3 of a kind. The hand is ranked by the highest 3 of a kind. In a tie, the rankings of the pair are compared.

Four of a Kind

Four of the same cards but different suits.

Straight Flush

A straight flush is five Consecutive cards and of the same suit.

So a straIGHt flUsh is 5 neIGHbors of the same sUit.

Royal Flush

A Royal flush is a straight Flush Ace high. A royal flush will always be a 10, jack, queen, king and ace of the same suit.

A couple of things to keep in mind.

Someone wins every hand of Texas Holdem Poker so if nobody has even 1 pair, the person with the highest card “high card” wins. This is the lowest winning hand rank.

If the flop cards are the highest rank, then everybody still in the game shares that pot. For example the flop cards may be 1 pair and if that is the highest hand then anyone who didn’t fold shares the pot.

It is also possible to have 5 of a kind if you are playing with more than one deck of cards or if you are playing with wild cards. Although not commonly listed as a winning hand, it ranks between the straight flush and the royal flush. Nothing beats a royal flush, it is the highest poker hand with odds of getting one 30,939 to 1.

Remember this mnemonic device for poker hand ranks

1, 2, 3, Straight, FLUSH, a FULL, FOUR, or Second FLUSH, Required

Now you learned what all the poker hands are and you now have a handy mnemonic device to remember their ranking.

Texas Hold Em Poker Hands Explained

The different Texas Hold Em Poker hands are exactly the same as normal poker hands. If you don’t know these don’t worry because I am going to explain them all. There are ten different hands that you can have. In order from worst to best, they are: low, 1 pair, 2 pair, 3 of a kind, straight, flush, full house, 4 of a kind, straight flush and royal flush. I will explain each of these in detail. The person with the highest hand wins.

When people talk about cards in text they will type the number of the card, and also a letter denoting the suit. H=hearts, D=diamonds, S=spades, C=clubs. Jack is J, Queen is Q, King is K and Ace is A. So for example a nine of clubs is 9C and a queen of hearts is QH. Some people put a hyphen ‘-‘ in between, some not. For multiple cards in a hand some people will just use a space i.e. 7D 8D 9D 10D JD or some people will use a hyphen i.e. 7D-8D-9D-10D-JD. Sometimes people wont put anything and this is usually hard to read. It takes a little getting used to but you should be able to decode most peoples explanations with little effort.

Now for all of the Texas Hold Em Poker Hands:

Low: This hand is very bad. A low hand is essentially nothing. You have no good hands. An example would be 7D-5S-4C-3C-2H. Its nothing. Although for the most part this hand is very bad, if two people have a low hand the person with the single highest card wins.

1 Pair: This is the first hand you will usually make. A pair is having a single pair of a type of card. The number must match and obviously the suit won’t be able to. An example would be 2H-6H-10C-JC-JS. So in this example the player has a pair of jacks. When two more more players have a pair the person with the highest pair will win.

2 Pair: This is a fairly good hand you can usually get quite easily. 2 pair is just like have a pair two times. An example would be AC-7H-7D-QC-QH. So in this example the player has a pair of 7’s and a pair of Queen’s. When two players both have 2 pair the player with the single highest pair out of all of them wins. It doesn’t matter if his second pair is lower then the other players.

3 of a kind: This is a good hand that you can make quite easily if you start with a pair in the hole. This hand is simply having three cards all of the same, like JH-5S-8C-8S-8D. This player has three 8’s so has 3 of a kind. If multiple players have 3 of a kind the player with the highest wins.

Straight: Here we deviate from the standard number matching. A straight is any five consecutively numbered cards. It doesn’t matter what suit just the numbers must be consecutive. For example 7D-8H-9S-10C-JH. If more then one player has a straight the player with the highest overall card at the end of the straight wins. An Ace can be used as either a low ace, like 12345, or a high ace, like 10JQKA. It cannot be used in the middle. QKA23 is not a valid hand and would be considered a low hand.

Flush: A flush is simply any five cards with the same suit. It doesn’t matter the number of the cards they just all have to be the same suit. An example would be AS-2S-6S-JS-9S. See how they are all spades? That is a flush. If two or more players both have a flush the person with the highest overall card will win. So having just one Ace, King or Queen in your flush tends to pay off.

Full House: A full house is a 3 of a kind plus a pair. An example is KD-KH-3S-3C-3D. See the 3 of a kind of three’s and the pair of king’s. This hand is very good but harder to get. The more important numbered card is the one in the 3 of a kind. If there is a showdown the player with the higher number in their 3 of a kind will win.

4 of a kind: As the name suggests, this hand is having 4 of the same kind of card. Like QC-QD-QH-QS-10C. Four queens makes 4 of a kind. Like with all the other hands, if two players have a four of a kind the player with the highest numbered card in their 4 of a kind will win.

Straight Flush: This hand is extremely hard to get and is a combination of the straight and the flush. So the numbers of the cards must be consecutive and all the suits must be the same. James Bond wins with a straight flush in Casino Royal. An example is 4S-5S-6S-7S-8S. Consecutive numbers plus all spades. If more then one player has a straight flush the player with the highest numbered card on the end of their’s will win.

Royal Flush: This is just a straight flush but at the top end. Its essentially the highest straight flush you can get. Its the ultimate: 10H-JH-QH-KH-AH. Nothing beats this hand. This is the best hand you can get.

Still with me?

So I have explained all of the different Texas Hold Em Poker hands that you can get. I put them in order from worst to best. Of course, each better one beats any one under it. So a 3 of a kind beats a pair automatically, and a flush beats that easily. Take the time to read through them again to remember them better. Its worth memorizing these so you immediately know who has won a poker hand, without having to refer to anything. Always remember, when two people have the same hand the winner is the person with the highest overall card making that hand.

Texas Holdem Poker Tournament Strategy – Starting Hands

Welcome to the fifth in my Texas Holdem Poker Strategy Series, focusing on no limit Texas Holdem poker tournament play and associated strategies. In this article, we’ll examine starting hand decisions.

It may seem obvious, but deciding which starting hands to play, and which ones to skip playing, is one of the most important Texas Holdem poker decisions you’ll make. Deciding which starting hands to play begins by accounting for several factors:

* Starting Hand “groups” (Sklansky made some good suggestions in his classic “Theory of Poker” book by David Sklansky)

* Your table position

* Number of players at the table

* Chip position

Sklansky originally proposed some Texas Holdem poker starting hand groups, which turned out to be very useful as general guidelines. Below you’ll find a “modified” (enhanced) version of the Sklansky starting hands table. I adapted the original Sklansky tables, which were “too tight” and rigid for my liking, into a more playable approach that are used in the Poker Sidekick poker odds calculator. Here’s the key to these starting hands:

Groups 1 to 8: These are essentially the same scale as Sklansky originally proposed, although some hands have been shifted around to improve playability and there is no group 9.

Group 30: These are now “questionable” hands, hands that should be played rarely, but can be reasonably played occasionally in order to mix things up and keep your opponents off balance. Loose players will play these a bit more often, tight players will rarely play them, experienced players will open with them only occasionally and randomly.

The table below is the exact set of starting hands that Poker Sidekick uses when it calculates starting poker hands. If you use Poker Sidekick, it will tell you which group each starting hand is in (if you can’t remember them), along with estimating the “relative strength” of each starting hand. You can just print this article and use it as a starting hand reference.

Group 1: AA, KK, AKs

Group 2: QQ, JJ, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

Group 3: TT, AQ, ATs, KJs, QJs, JTs

Group 4: 99, 88, AJ, AT, KQ, KTs, QTs, J9s, T9s, 98s

Group 5: 77, 66, A9s, A5s-A2s, K9s, KJ, KT, QJ, QT, Q9s, JT, QJ, T8s, 97s, 87s, 76s, 65s

Group 6: 55, 44, 33, 22, K9, J9, 86s

Group 7: T9, 98, 85s

Group 8: Q9, J8, T8, 87, 76, 65

Group 30: A9s-A6s, A8-A2, K8-K2, K8-K2s, J8s, J7s, T7, 96s, 75s, 74s, 64s, 54s, 53s, 43s, 42s, 32s, 32

All other hands not shown (virtually unplayable).

So, those are the enhanced Sklasky Texas Holdem poker starting hand tables.

The later your position at the table (dealer is latest position, small blind is earliest), the more starting hands you should play. If you’re on the dealer button, with a full table, play groups 1 through 6. If you’re in middle position, reduce play to groups 1 through 3 (tight) and 4 (loose). In early position, reduce play to groups 1 (tight) or 1 through 2 (loose). Of course, in the big blind, you get what you get.

As the number of players drops into the 5 to 7 range, I recommend tightening up overall and playing far fewer, premium hands from the better positions (groups 1 – 2). This is a great time to forget about chasing flush and straight draws, which puts you at risk and wastes chips.

As the number of players drops to 4, it’s time to open up and play far more hands (groups 1 – 5), but carefully. At this stage, you’re close to being in the money in a Texas Holdem poker tournament, so be extra careful. I’ll often just protect my blinds, steal occasionally, and try to let the smaller stacks get blinded or knocked out (putting me into the money). If I’m one of the small stacks, well, then I’m forced to pick the best hand I can get and go all-in and hope to double-up.

When the play is down to 3, it’s time to avoid engaging with big stacks and hang on to see if we can land 2nd place, heads-up. I tend to tighten up a bit here, playing very similar to when there’s just 3 players (avoiding confrontation unless I’m holding a pair or an Ace or a King, if possible).

Once you’re heads-up, well, that’s a topic for a completely different article, but in general, it’s time to become extraordinarily aggressive, raise a lot, and become “pushy”.

In tournaments, it’s always important to keep track of your chips stack size relative to the blinds and everyone else’s stacks. If you’re short on chips, then play far fewer hands (tigher), and when you do get a good hand, extract as many chips as you can with it. If you’re the big stack, well, you should avoid unnecessary confrontation, but use your big stack position to push everyone around and steal blinds occasionally as well – without risking too many chips in the process (the other players will be trying to use you to double-up, so be careful).

Well, that’s a quick overview of an improved set of starting hands and some general rules for adjusting starting hand play based upon game conditions throughout the tournament.

Until next time, best of luck to you at the Texas Holdem poker tables!

Rick