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Ace High

What is ‘Ace High’?

In poker, ace high describes any hand where a single ace holds the highest rank. This hand can beat any other high card, including the king, but it would lose to any pair – even 2-2. The phrase can also be used to inform players that ace will be ranked above the king in a game. In most card games, the cards rank from 2 to ace, but in some games the rank runs from ace to king. A dealer may declare ‘ace high’ or ‘ace low’ before the game begins.

‘Ace High’ Explained

In poker, players aim to have the best possible hand when ranked against all other hands still in play. Certain sets of cards are valued above others – for example, having cards of the same suit or having a consecutive run of numbers will beat a hand with just a pair or a high card. Those sets are also ranked according to the value of the cards involved – so 2-2 will lose to 5-5, while 7-7-7 beats 3-3-3.

In most games of poker, the cards are ranked from two to ace, as follows: 2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-J-Q-K-A. In some games, such as lowball poker, the cards run from ace to king. In blackjack, an ace can be low or high as the player requires it. If a player or dealer refers to ‘ace high’, they might be describing the rules of the game. Declaring ‘ace high’ ensures that all players know to rank their aces above their kings, and to aim for high sets instead of low ones.

Ace high also describes any hand which makes a play at the showdown, and which contains a single ace as its qualifying value. A five card hand of 2-4-6-8-A contains no pairs, but it does have an ‘ace high’. For example, it would beat a hand of 5-7-9-J-K, but it would not beat a 2-2-4-6-9 hand. Playing an ace high is a somewhat risky strategy as it requires all other players to either fold early, or to chance their luck on a ‘king high’ or a ‘jack high’.

Want to get in to poker? Read the in-depth Casinopedia guide.