Understanding the Hierarchy of Poker Hands

In poker, understanding the hierarchy of hands is fundamental to mastering the game. Familiarize yourself with the different hand rankings, starting from the highest to the lowest:

  • Royal Flush: A, K, Q, J, 10 of the same suit.
  • Straight Flush: Five consecutive cards of the same suit.
  • Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank.
  • Full House: Three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
  • Flush: Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence.
  • Straight: Five consecutive cards of different suits.
  • Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank.
  • Two Pair: Two cards of one rank and two cards of another rank.
  • One Pair: Two cards of the same rank.
  • High Card: The highest-ranking card in the hand when no other hand is made.

Starting Hand Selection

Knowing which hands to play and which to fold is crucial in poker. While starting hand selection depends on various factors such as position, table dynamics, and playing style, here are some general guidelines:

  • Play premium hands like pocket pairs (e.g., Aces, Kings, Queens) and high-ranking suited connectors (e.g., Ace-King, King-Queen).
  • Be cautious with marginal hands like small pocket pairs (e.g., 2s, 3s) and unsuited connectors (e.g., 7-8).
  • Avoid playing weak hands like low-ranking offsuit cards (e.g., 7-2, 10-4).

Hand Reading and Equity Calculation

Mastering poker hands involves the ability to read your opponents’ hands and calculate your hand’s equity in different situations. Pay attention to betting patterns, board texture, and your opponents’ actions to narrow down their possible holdings. Additionally, use equity calculators to analyze your hand’s chances of winning against different ranges of hands.

Post-Flop Play

After the flop, your decision-making revolves around the strength of your hand, the potential of your opponents’ hands, and the dynamics of the board. Consider the following post-flop strategies:

  • Value Betting: Bet with strong hands to extract value from weaker hands.
  • Bluffing: Bluff with weaker hands to represent strength and force opponents to fold stronger hands.
  • Semi-Bluffing: Bet with drawing hands that have the potential to improve to a strong hand on future streets.
  • Hand Protection: Bet or raise with vulnerable hands to prevent opponents from drawing out on you.
  • Board Texture Analysis: Assess the texture of the flop to determine its suitability for your hand and your opponents’ likely holdings.


Mastering poker hands is a continuous process that requires study, practice, and experience. By understanding the hierarchy of hands, making informed starting hand selections, improving hand reading and equity calculation skills, and mastering post-flop play, you can enhance your overall poker game and increase your chances of success at the tables.