Best Poker Starting Hands Chart

This chart will give you the rank of Texas Hold’em hands from best to worst. This can serve as an easy list of all hands sorted by strength rather than separated by biggest starting card. I am including all 13 pocket pairs and 78 unique non-paired starting hands for a total of 91 hands.

  1. Printable Poker Hands Chart
  2. Poker Starting Hands Chart
  3. Best Poker Starting Hands Chart Printable

One of hold’em’s most crucial decisions is, do I see the flop or don’t I see the flop? In this lesson we’ll examine the importance starting hand selection and what factors you need to consider before deciding whether to hold’em or fold’em.

There are 169 different two card starting hand combinations in hold’em poker. This number assumes, for the sake of argument, that is the same as , or any other suited combination. If you are not dealt a pair, then your starting hand will either be suited or unsuited, and either connected or unconnected (gapped). This means your starting hand will fall into one of the following five categories:

  • Pairs – e.g. , ,
  • Suited connectors – e.g. , ,
  • Connecting cards – e.g. , ,
  • Suited unconnected cards – e.g. , ,
  • Unconnected cards – e.g. , ,

Unconnected cards might be one, two, three-gapped, or more. The bigger the gap, the less chance you have of hitting a straight. For example, if you hold 73, then you’d need a flop of 456 for the straight. But holding T8, you could flop a straight with 9JQ or 679.

The Best Starting Hands in Hold’em

Let’s start by talking about the best starting hands, which are often referred to as ‘premium hands’. There is some disagreement amongst poker players as to which starting hands are the best, but few would dispute the value of the first of our three main groups, Aces and Kings.

Group 1: AA, KK

These two starting hands are the major players in hold’em. It’s not often you’ll get dealt Aces or Kings. In fact you get either Aces or Kings once in every 110 hands, so it’s not nearly as often as we’d like. Aces are by far the best possible starting hand in hold’em, closely followed by Kings. However, you should be aware that even Aces or Kings can get cracked, and they don’t play too well against multiple opponents. This means you should definitely be raising pre-flop to narrow the field. Extra caution is necessary when playing Kings, because if an Ace falls on the flop then you’re losing to anyone who has a single Ace in their starting hand. While they are very strong hands which most players love to get, they are certainly not unbeatable.

Group 2: QQ, JJ, AKs

Queens and Jacks are great starting hands, and with either of these, you can usually be confident you have the best starting hand. Of course they are dominated by Aces and Kings, but they’re a favourite against all other starting hands. While Queens and Jacks will occasionally run into a player holding either Aces or Kings, it doesn’t happen too often. Play these cards strongly, and always look to raise with them.

Ace-King is known throughout the poker world as Big Slick, and when suited it’s often called Super Slick. While it isn’t a ‘made hand’, unlike a pair, it offers great potential. It’s only a big underdog to Aces and Kings, and even pairs like Queens and Jacks are only slight favourites. The beauty of AK (suited or unsuited), is that it dominates so many other hands like AQ, AJ, AT, and so on. These types of hands are the ones that players usually end up pushing all-in with late in a tournament.

Group 3: TT, AK, AQs, AJs, KQs

This next group of starting hands is also a strong bunch. You should definitely be looking to raise pre-flop with any of these hands too. We’ve already talked about the power of AK, but starting hands like AQs, and AJs, are also very strong and often run into weaker Ace-X combinations. Even though these are all strong starting hands, and most of the time you’ll be winning pre-flop, you have to be careful – particularly a hand like KQs, which you can easily fold to a re-raise.

Suited Cards

You’ll often hear novice players responding to questioning of why they played a particular starting hand with the line “well, because they were suited”. Some suited cards are worth playing and it’s certainly better to start with suited cards than unsuited cards. However, the odds of flopping a flush is 1 out of 118 hands (0.8%) with two suited cards, and you’ll only make a flush after the river around 6.5% of the time. Don’t fall into the trap of playing any two cards just because they happen to be suited – it doesn’t make a big enough difference to make junk hands valuable.

Kicker Issues

The word ‘kicker’ means the smaller of your two cards. Some players play a hand if it contains an Ace with any other card (such as an Ace with a 3 kicker), and this type of play ultimately cost players money and tournaments. For example, let’s suppose a player calls with A6 and the flop comes A83. What does the player do? bet? call? raise? call a big raise? go all-in? What if the flop comes Q63? The player has middle pair – which is very hard to play. Hey, the flop could come A6X – the player has two pair, Aces and sixes but this happens only 1 out of 49 hands (2%). Until you learn when and how to play Ace junk (AX) go slow with it. One good thing about A junk and K junk, is that you do not need to play these hands to learn when they may be profitable. Let experience from other hands and study be your teacher.

Table Conditions

Hold’em starting hands can be a complex subject because every situation is different. If you were to ask a professional poker player, “should I call, raise, or fold this hand pre-flop?” his response would almost certainly be “it depends!” Here are some of the main reasons why it depends:

The Number of Players

The value of certain starting hands is very dependent upon the number of players at the table. Certain starting hands are always going to be under threat against a table of nine or ten players, but the value of these same hands increases when there are fewer players. A starting hand like KJ might be vulnerable against a full table of players, but is considered a strong hand if there are just a few other players.

Position

Your position on the poker table will be a major factor in deciding which starting hands you should play. The later your position in the betting order, the better – because you get to decide what to do after most of your opponents have acted. We’ll talk much more about the importance of position throughout our lessons on Pokerology, but as a first step please see our lesson on the value of position. Playing position can elude us at first because it is a part of poker that lends itself to be exploited through experience. However, you must quickly realize that your position at the table should heavily influence the choice of starting hands that you play. Until a player has a feel or grasp for positional play, just believe and follow some of the suggestions on the subject.

A Raised Pot

Whether or not a pot has been raised should be a very important factor in your decision to play a particular starting hand. Your selection of starting hands should change when the pot has been raised by a reasonable player. If there has been a raise and a re-raise before you’re due to act, then you should only consider playing with a very strong hand. Of course this will also depend on the personality types of the other players and whether the game is very loose or passive.

Starting Hand Charts

When you first start playing poker it can be helpful to use a starting hand chart as a point of reference. We’ve created a couple of starting hand charts that can be used by beginners. Please click on the following links to view these charts (they will open in a new window):

Each of these charts loads as a PDF, meaning they be viewed on screen, bookmarked or better still, can be printed and studied offline.

Beginners can treat starting hand charts as the gospel, but once you know enough about the game to recognize appropriate opportunities, you can deviate because your adjustment may represent a more profitable play. Our starting hand charts are a guide, not a set of intractable rules. There is no such thing as a perfect starting hand chart, because every game is different and there are many variables at work. Game texture and table conditions can’t be measured and included into a neat formula.

There are many factors that may encourage you to tighten or loosen your play from our guidelines. If you have a starting hand that’s not listed on the chart, then there’s a good reason – it should almost always be mucked. But as in all poker decisions the phrase, “It depends” comes to mind. However, before you decide to deviate from our guidelines, have a reason for taking such an action.

Conclusion

Don’t fall into the trap of playing any two cards. Most poker players want to play hands and as a beginner it’s very easy to be seduced by suited cards or picture cards, or any two-card holding that contains an Ace of a King – but if you play hold’em correctly, you’re going to be selective and toss away the vast majority of hands you’re dealt.

When you gain more poker playing experience you can begin to open up your range of starting hands – but until then, proceed with caution and only play the best hands. Loose, promiscuous play will get you into trouble and is the downfall of many players.

In future lessons we’ll expand much more on the topics discussed in this poker lesson and get you to think beyond the actual cards you’re dealt. We also have hours of video footage covering starting hand selection for both no-limit and fixed-limit hold’em – so depending upon your preference, be sure to check them out!

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By David Sasseman

David lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and has played over a million hands online and many thousands of hands in Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Las Vegas casinos.

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Table Of Contents

Do you want to know what beats what in poker? Use the official poker hands rankings chart and seem them from best to worst!

Whether you play live at your local casino or card room, you have your home game going, or you prefer the online action at websites like PokerStars, 888Poker, or partypoker, you need to learn the order of poker hands from best to worse.

Use the list of poker hands below to know beats what in poker.

Commit this poker hands ranking list to memory today and print it if you need it (there's a button for it at the bottom). Knowing the correct poker hands rank is key to start making winning poker hands.

Poker Hands From Best To Worst

Poker Hands From Best To Worst

1. Royal Flush10JQKAThe best possible hand in Texas hold'em is the combination of ten, jack, queen, king, ace, all of the same suit
2. Straight Flush56789Five cards of the same suit in sequential order
3. Four-Of-A-Kind3333KAny four numerically matching cards
4. Full HouseJJJKKCombination of three of a kind and a pair in the same hand
5. Flush2459KFive cards of the same suit, in any order
6. StraightA2345Five cards of any suit, in sequential order
7. Three-Of-A-Kind77745Any three numerically matching cards
8. Two Pair99KK4Two different pairs in the same hand
9. One Pair10103QKAny two numerically matching cards
10. High CardK248QThe highest ranked card in your hand with an ace being the highest and two being the lowest
Download as PDF / ImageImage

Not Sure What Beats What in Poker?

Many consider poker less of a gambling game than other casino games. For that to be true, players need to improve their understanding of game play and the strategy required to be a winning player.

The first step toward learning how to play poker is to learn the poker hand rankings.

Most poker players have these rankings memorized, which allows them to think about other things at the table when deciding the best way to play their hands.

The good news is these hand rankings tend to be the same among a wide variety of poker variants, whether it is Texas Hold'em, Omaha, seven-card stud, or other games.

All of those games use the same traditional poker hand rankings that were first developed way back in the 19th century when five-card draw first started to be played.

On this page, you find a complete list of poker hand rankings going from the highest possible hand (the Royal Flush), down to the lowest hand in which there is no pair among the five cards.

Hand rankings in poker correspond to the likelihood of making such hands.

A royal flush, consisting of the cards ranked ace through ten all being the same suit, is extremely rare — in fact, some players go their entire lives without making a royal flush.

A regular straight flush with any five consecutive cards of the same suit is a little less rare, four of a kind occurs slightly more frequently, and so on.

Notice that a full house is ranked higher than a flush.

That's because a full house comes just a little less frequently than a flush, thereby making it the higher-ranked hand of the two.

Additional readings for beginners:

  • Poker Tips: A collection of tips 'to bring your game from 'meh' to amazing' created to help beginners become better players.
  • Texas Hold'em Strategy: a complete manual to read as soon as you start to remember what beats what in poker.
  • Poker starting hands chart: the only article you need to read to learn how to use your cards to the fullest.

Understanding Winning Poker Hands

Poker starting hands by position

Players new to the game of Texas hold'em often struggle, at least at first, with what the best poker hands are.

Once they have read this easy-to-digest guide that will no longer be the case.

The aim of Texas hold'em is to make the best five-card poker hand at showdown.

You can win without having to show your cards if you force someone to fold before the river. Nonetheless, for the purpose of this article, we'll pretend that we've gone to showdown and need to know what beats what in poker.

Winning Poker Hands: What Are The Best Hands In Poker?

First up is the weakest possible holding you can make in poker, a hand that can still win you the pot, although the likelihood of that happening decreases in a pot involving multiple players.

We are of course talking about high card.

As the name suggests, you don't even hold a pair here and instead are using the highest card among the five you are playing.

Example:

You have and the board has come .

Your best five-card hand would be where you would hold queen-high.

Next up is one pair, one of the more common Texas hold'em hands and one that will win you plenty of pots.

Example:

You have and the board comes .

Your five-card hand is — you have a pair of aces. Nice poker hand!

One place higher up on the poker hands chart is two pair.

Example:

You have and the five community cards are .

Your best five-card hand at showdown is or two pair, tens and nines.

One note of warning on this specific poker hand: if you are verbally declaring your hand, try to announce the higher pair first as to help avoid confusion.

Good Poker Hands

Now we're getting into the realm of the best poker hands because once you make three-of-a-kind (sometimes called a set or trips), you are much more likely to win the pot than with any of the previously mentioned hands.

Example:

Your five-card poker hand is — you have three-of-a-kind kings, often a very powerful hand in hold'em.

To beat three-of-a-kind you're going to need at least a straight.

A straight is five consecutive cards where at least one of them is a different suit from the others.

Example:
Should your hand read you would hold a six-high straight.

If someone held a seven-high straight, then that player would win the hand.

There are two straights that have nicknames that are worth remembering.

A wheel is a straight that runs from ace-to-five, and a Broadway straight — the strongest straight — runs from ten-to-ace.

A flush is one of the most powerful Texas hold'em hands because it is only beaten by a handful of others.

Any hand that that has five cards of the same suit is a flush.

Aces are always high when it comes to flushes, which means a hand such as beats .

There are few hands that can beat a flush — one that does is a full house. Also called a 'boat,' a full house is when your five-card hand is made up of three of a kind plus a pair.

Example:

With you have kings full of deuces, while is fives full of queens.

When it comes to full houses, the higher three of a kind determines which hand wins, so in this case 'kings full' would beat 'fives full.'

The Stronger Hands in Poker

The next three holdings are so rare that if you hold them, you can almost guarantee that they are winning poker hands.

Four of a kind is the minimum holding you'll need to beat someone with a full house.

Again, as the name suggests, four of a kind means having four cards of the same rank.

Example:

is four-of-a-kind tens and an extremely powerful holding.

Your only way to beat four of a kind, or 'quads' as they are often called, is to hold either a straight flush or a Royal Flush.

The former is five consecutive cards all of the same suit, so would be an eight-high straight flush and practically unbeatable.

If you manage to make (or the same holding in any of the other three suits), you have a Royal Flush and the only way to lose the hand would be to fold by accident!

Poker Hands Probability

If you are into numbers (most poker players are), you might be wondering about the probability of poker hands.

We said that she platers might go entire lives without ever getting the highest hand in poker but, looking at the numbers, what are the odds of a Royal Flush?

In this section of our complete analysis of the poker hand ranking and what beats what in poker, you get a clear overview of the probability of poker hands.

How to calculate the probability of poker hands?

When you know that there are 52 cards in play and 2,598,960 possible combinations, the calculation is easy.

You just need to divide the number of possibilities to build a specific poker hand by the number of total poker hands.

Let's run a few examples:

What are the odds of a Royal Flush? 0.000,001,539
(4/2,598,960)

What are the odds of a Straight Flush? 0.000,015,39
(40/2,598,960)

Use the table below to calculate the probabilities of all poker hands.

Poker HandNo. WaysProbability
Royal Flush40.000,001,539
Straight Flush400.000,015,39
Four-of-a-Kind6240.000,240,1
Full House3,7440.001,440,58
Flush5,1080.001,965,4
Straight10,2000.003,924,65
Three-of-a-Kind54,9120.021,128,45
Two Pairs123,5520,047,539,02
One Pair1,098,2400,422.569.03

Absolute Value vs. Relative Value of Poker Hands

It should be noted also that while poker hand rankings never change, sometimes circumstances can make a good hand less valuable and a poor hand more valuable.

In other words, when it comes to poker hands there's a difference between absolute value (reflected in the list of poker hands above) and relative value.

For instance, in a game of Texas hold'em, if you have two pair that might seem like a good hand.

But if your opponent keeps betting into you and it's possible he could have a straight or flush, your two pair is no longer looking so good.

Meanwhile, if you have just one pair but your opponent keeps checking to give you a free play at the pot, you might well have the strongest hand and should bet your hand.

The 'absolute' value of your hand may not be great, but in that case the 'relative' value very well could be.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that in some games like razz, deuce-to-seven triple draw, Badugi, and others you might encounter when playing online poker, the hand rankings listed below do not apply.

These hand rankings are for regular or 'high-card' games, not 'lowball' games with alternate hand rankings.

Poker Hand Rankings F.A.Q.

What is the order of poker hands?

As shown in the poker hand rankings chart, the order of poker rankings (from the highest to the lowest) is: Royal Flush, Straight Flush, Four-of-a-Kind, Full House, Flush, Straight, Three-of-a-Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, High Card.

What is the best hand in poker?

The Royal Flush is the best hand in poker. To have a Royal Flush, you need an Ace, a King, a Queen, a Jack, and a 10. All the cards that compose the hand need to be of the same suit.

What beats what in poker?

As you can see in our poker hand rankings chart, the hands in poker follow a clear hierarchy.

In a game of poker, the hand rankings work as follows:

  • a pair beats a high card;
  • a two pair beats a one pair;
  • a three-of-a-kind beats a two pair;
  • a straight beats a three-of-a-kind;
  • a flush beats a straight;
  • a full house beats a flush;
  • a four-of-a-kind beats a full house;
  • a straight flush beats a four-of-a-kind;
  • a Royal Flush beats a straight flush.

The Royal Flush is the best hand in poker, so no one other hands beat this one.

What is a straight in poker?

You have a straight when all the five cards that compose your poker hand are consecutive ones. E.g. 5-6-7-8-9.

If the cards are of the same suit, you have a straight flush, which is a considerably stronger hand compare d to the simple straight.

What beats a straight in poker?

Although many see the straight as a stronger hand, there are many other poker hands that beat it.

The list of hands that beat a straight includes:

  • a flush;
  • a full house;
  • a four-of-a-kind;
  • a straight flush;
  • a Royal Flush.

What beats a flush in poker?

The list of hands that beat a flush includes:

  • a full house;
  • a four-of-a-kind;
  • a straight flush;
  • a Royal Flush.

What beats a full house in poker?

The list of hands that beat a full house includes:

  • a four-of-a-kind;
  • a straight flush;
  • a Royal Flush.

What is the highest suit in poker?

All the suits in poker have the same value. In some games, different suits can be assigned different values.

When that happens, the value is as follow (from the lowest to the highest): clubs, diamonds, hearts, spades. In that case, spades is the highest suit.

Printable Poker Hands Chart

How many poker hands are there?

The total number of poker hands in a game of poker is 2,598,960. Since a game of poker uses a 52-card deck of French cards, there are 2,598,960 different possible combinations (aka. poker hands).

What hands to play in poker?

The type of hands to play in a poker game depends on the game you play and other factors like your position in the hand, your stack, and the action at the table.

In a famous poker strategy article, professional player Jonathan Little shared which hands to play in poker and how to play marginal hands.

Can you make three pairs?

Although it is possible to hold a pair in your hand and then have another two pair appear among the five community cards, you can only use a total of five cards to make your poker hand, so you don't win anything for three pairs.

Which is better, a set or trips?

They are both essentially the same hand because they are both three of a kind.

Poker Starting Hands Chart

The terminology 'set' is used when you have a pair as your hole cards and then catch another one of those cards on the board.

'Trips' is when there is a pair on the board and you have another of those cards as one of your hole cards.

Sets are easier to disguise than trips so many consider them to be a better hand, although they both rank the same.

What is a chopped or split pot?

If you and an opponent have the same five-card poker hand, then the pot is divided equally between you.

Say you have and your opponent has , and the board comes .

You both would be playing the same five-card hands in terms of their value (A-J-T-8-3), and so would split the pot.

If there is four of a kind on the board, who wins?

Because the aim is to make a five-card poker hand, whoever has the highest fifth card in this case wins.

If the board reads and you have in your hand and your opponent has , then you win because you hand is 7-7-7-7-A and your opponent's is 7-7-7-7-K.

You would also win even if your opponent holding was in this example.

Are the suits ranked in Texas hold'em?

No, they are not. Some poker variants have different ranks for suits, but hold'em is not one of them.

Why did my 4-4-4-T-T lose to my opponent's 7-7-7-8-8?

As mentioned earlier, it is the three-of-a-kind element of a full house that dictates the winner.

Best Poker Starting Hands Chart Printable

If you're new to the game and want a reference of all of Texas hold'em hands, you can keep this page open or you could always download and print our poker hands ranking chart and keep it next to you while you're playing poker.

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