Poker is a card game that has been around for centuries and is still popular today. The game aims to win bets by having the best hand of cards according to certain combinations, also called hands. In poker, different types of hands are ranked from strongest to weakest; some being regarded as more desirable than others. Understanding what makes up the best and worst hands in poker can help players make their decisions easier during gameplay.
The best hands in poker
Every player wishes to have the best hand when playing poker, but what is the best hand? Several hands can be considered the best, depending on the current game and what other players have.
A royal flush
Considered one of the strongest hands in poker, a Royal Flush comprises five consecutive cards (Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and 10), all of the same suit. It cannot be beaten by any other hand except another Royal Flush.
A Straight Flush comprises five consecutive cards, all of the same suit, but unlike a Royal Flush, it does not necessarily have to involve an Ace. It is still a mighty hand that very few players can beat.
Also known as Quads, this hand contains four cards with the same rank, such as 4 Aces or 4 Kings. Quads are usually unbeatable since they consist of four matching cards, though there are some cases in which another player may have a more weighty hand. With a four-of-a-kind hand, players can use a bad beat jackpot to increase their winnings.
Made up of three cards with the same rank and two other cards with the same rank (but different from the first three), a Full House is one of the strongest hands in poker. It can only be beaten by stronger hands such as Quads or a Royal Flush.
A Flush comprises five non-consecutive cards, all of which are of the same suit. While it’s not as strong as some other more powerful hands, it still has a chance of winning if there are no stronger hands on the table.
The worst hands in poker
Only some hands are desirable, and good players try to avoid having weak hands when playing poker. Players should avoid these hands unless they feel fortunate or have a good reason to think their opponents don’t have strong hands.
A high-card hand is the lowest-ranking hand in poker and consists of five non-consecutive cards with no matching ranks or suits. Players should avoid it since it has little chance of winning.
A one-pair hand only contains two cards with the same rank, such as two Aces or two Kings. While this hand can still win depending on the other cards being used, it is generally considered weaker than most other hands.
Consisting of two pairs (such as two Aces and two Kings), this is slightly stronger than a one-pair hand but still weaker than others. It can win if the other players have a similar or lower hand strength.
Also known as Trips, this hand contains three cards with the same rank (such as three Aces). While it is more weighty than a one or two pair, it is still weaker than some higher-ranking hands such as Quads or a Straight Flush.
A Straight is made up of five consecutive cards in any suit, but unlike a Straight Flush, it does not need to be of the same suit. Many others can beat this type of hand, so it’s best to avoid it if possible.
How to handle a weak hand
If you find yourself with a weak hand in poker, the best option is usually to fold. However, if you feel that your opponents have weaker hands and may fold if you raise, then this can be a viable strategy. Just make sure that you are aware of the risks before doing so.
When playing with a weak hand, it’s essential to keep your bets small and play cautiously. It can help avoid unnecessary losses while allowing you to gain some chips if the other players fold.
Bluffing is another option that can be used when playing with a weak hand. If done correctly, bluffing can make it appear like you have a strong hand, even if you don’t have one. Of course, players should only use this strategy in certain situations since it carries a higher risk of failure.
Check-raising can be a profitable strategy when playing with a weak hand. If you check the other players and they bet, you can raise them back and potentially make more money if they fold. However, players should only use this tactic in certain situations since it risks failure if their opponents have strong hands.
Slowplaying is another option if you have a weak hand, though you should only do it in certain situations. Slowplaying involves betting small amounts and not raising, making it appear like your hand is weaker than it is. This tactic can help you gain more chips if the other players are bluffing or have weaker hands.