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Outrank

What is ‘Outrank’?

When used in the context of a poker hand or a playing card, ‘outrank’ means to beat another hand or card by having a higher value.

The cards themselves are ranked according to their number or letter, and the hands which can win a game are usually ranked according to standard poker rules. In some games the values and ranks can be changed, so that a hand which would typically outrank another will lose against it instead.

‘Outrank’ Explained

In games such as poker where a standard pack of 52 playing cards is used, those cards tend to be ranked in order of value. For most games, the lowest card is a 2 and the highest is an Ace; occasionally the Ace is the lowest and the King becomes the best card, outranking all others. In bridge and sometimes in poker, the suits are also ranked – usually by alphabetical order. This means that a heart can outrank a diamond and a diamond can outrank a club.

In poker, hands are also said to outrank each other. All of the potentially winning hands in the game are listed in a table, often with high cards or pairs at the bottom and the royal flush (or occasionally five of a kind) at the top. When a poker round comes to an end and the players reveal their cards, those sets are ranked against the table. The hand which outranks all others is the one that takes the pot.

There are variants of the game in which the ranks are turned around. These are known as lowball games. While the hand ranks remain the same – that is, a triple still beats a pair and a suited flush beats all hands – the value of cards is reversed. In this kind of game, a 2-2 pair outranks a Q-Q pair and an A-2-3-4-5 straight is superior to a 7-8-9-10-J straight.