Learn to identify winning poker hands
Texas Hold’em is all about having the best card combination. If you know the basic poker hand rankings (if not, click here), let’s go a step further to see which poker hand wins.
Board and hole cards
You have two personal cards (hole cards) and five shared cards (board). Your best hand uses any combination of five of these cards. You can use none, one or both your hole cards to form the best poker hand. Sometimes, the five shared cards form the best hand, and everyone still in the pot shares the win.
High card win
If no one has even a pair, then the highest card wins. For example:
Player A wins with a high card hand with the king as the highest card.
Understanding the kicker
The kicker is the next highest card that helps decide ties. For example:
Both players have a pair of aces, but Player A wins because of the king kicker.
Having two pairs can be tricky. The player with the highest pair wins. If both players share the top pair but have different second pairs, the one with the higher second pair wins. If both pairs are identical, the kicker comes into play. For instance:
Both players have a two-pair, but Player A has a higher second pair.
The trickiest situation is when the board pairs:
At the flop Player B was in the lead with two-pair. But on the river the board paired and both players now have two-pair with kings and nines. But Player A now has the winning poker hand thanks to the queen kicker. Player B has the same two-pair, but with an 8 kicker. Since we are competing for the best 5 card poker hand, it does not help Player B that they have another pair, it can not be included in the 5 card hand.
Finding the straight
A common beginner’s mistake is missing a possible straight. Remember, a straight requires five consecutive cards, and they can be from any suit. Always check if there are five sequential cards within reach.
Understanding the full house
A full house has three cards of one kind and two of another. The set of three is most important.
A hand with:
Will beat a hand with:
It is not just the cards, but also how you play them that makes the game exciting. Keep playing and enjoy the game!