Poker Hands

What are Poker Hands?

Poker hands can refer to hands dealt during any poker game, or to winning hands as determined by the standard poker rankings. A hand in poker is a set of cards held by the player, or a combination of five cards made from those dealt to the individual and those on the table. Poker hands also means the flushes, straight and matched value sets that can create a win for the player.

Poker Hands Explained

In poker, players build ‘hands’ from the cards available to them. In its simplest sense, a ‘hand’ is the cards actually held by the player. However, a hand can also mean the set of five cards built by the player using their hole and door cards in stud, or using the community cards on the board in Hold’Em. During a game of poker, players aim to improve their starting hand while betting against the other players as to how likely they are to have the best hand. At the end of the game, all hands are revealed and the best one still in play wins the pot.

‘Poker hands’ can also be described as ‘winning hands’ – that is, hands which are capable of winning. In many forms of poker, all hands can potentially win because high cards are an acceptable ranked set. If one player holds 4-6-8-9-J and another has 2-3-7-8-10, the player with the jack wins the pot. However, not all games allow low pairs to win. In video poker and in some forms of table poker, players need a pair of jacks or higher to have a qualifying poker hand.

The best poker hand in almost every game is the royal flush – a suited set of cards which includes the consecutive run of 10-J-Q-K-A. This is usually unbeatable, unless wildcards are in play and five-of-a-kind is permitted. Straights (consecutive numbers) and flushes (matching suits) are strong poker hands. Sets of two, three and four matching cards are also ranked poker hands which can potentially win a game.

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