Poker Hand Rankings/Nicknames Explained
In the 200-odd years that poker has been around, its players have developed their own distinct and nuanced language with which to discuss their favourite pastime. Aside from words like “call”, “raise” and “ante”, there are also nicknames for each of the different possible hand rankings.
Whilst this is part of the colourful world that attracts many players to poker, it also intimidates many others into sitting out. Fortunately, most online and land-based casinos operate according to standard poker hand rankings/nicknames so, once you’ve got them memorised, you’ll be able to speak fluent poker in any place.
The Poker Hand Rankings/Nicknames System
Poker is quite different to other card games in that the value of each hand is not always immediately apparent – nor do nicknames give much away to the uninitiated.
Individual cards also have value – 1 through Ace from lowest to highest value – but this value is influenced by the other cards in each five-card hand:
- Five of a Kind
Five of a kind is the highest of all possible hand rankings/nicknames in poker and is exactly as its name suggests – a hand with five of the same symbol, irrespective of suit. For example: A-A-A-A-A or 10-10-10-10-10 or K-K-K-K-K, and so forth. When more than one player has five of a kind, the player with the higher card value wins – e.g. five Aces beats five Kings.
Note that five of a kind is only possible with the use of wild cards.
- Straight Flush
The most valuable of the natural poker hand rankings/nicknames is a straight flush, in which five cards of the same suit appear in order – e.g. 6-7-8-9-10. The higher the rank of the top card, the higher the value of the straight flush. According to standard poker hand rankings/nicknames, a straight flush becomes a royal flush when it ends in an Ace, which is called an Ace high – 10-J-Q-K-A. An Ace low is when the Ace is represents the number “1” – as in 1-2-3-4-5 – and such a straight flush is not royal.
- Four of a Kind
Third from the top in poker hand rankings/nicknames are four of a kind hands. A four of a kind features four cards of the same rank and one additional card – e.g. K-K-K-K-7. Once again, the higher the rank of the four matching cards, the greater the hand ranking will be.
- Full House
In poker hand rankings/nicknames, a full house comes directly below four of a kind in terms of value. A full house features three of a kind and a pair – e.g. J-J-J-9-9 or K-K-K-4-4. See below for explanations of pair and three of a kind hand rankings/nicknames.
A flush in poker hand rankings/nicknames refers to a hand in which all five cards, although they do not match or appear in order, are of the same suit – e.g. K-8-6-4-2 hearts.
A straight is like a straight flush, except that the cards do not have to all be of the same suit.
- Three of a Kind
Poker hand rankings/nicknames refer to three cards of the same rank plus two additional cards that are not a pair as three of a kind.
- Two Pair
The “two pair” hand rankings/nicknames describe two separate pairs plus a fifth card – e.g. K-K-A-A-3 or Q-Q-10-10-2.
Poker hand rankings/nicknames referred to as “pairs” include two cards of equal rank plus three additional cards.
Poker High Cards
When a hand does not fall under any of the hand rankings/nicknames listed above, it is valued according to the worth of its highest-ranking card.