Straight Flush Rankings: What Beats What in Poker

You’ve probably heard poker players talking about their hands using terms like a straight flush or full house, but do you know exactly what those terms mean? If not, you’re not alone; it can be confusing to make sense of all the different kinds of hands in poker. To help you out, we’ve put together this guide on the various kinds of straight flushes and how they compare to other kinds of poker hands. Enjoy!

Understanding Hand Ranks

One of the most basic steps to mastering poker is understanding how each hand ranks against one other. If you don’t know how a flush beats a straight or a full house, then it’s going to be tough to win those big pots. So, let’s take a look at some hands and their rankings. In order from best to worst, they are as follows: A-K-Q-J-T (straight flush), royal flush, four of a kind, full house, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and high card.

Understanding Straight Flushes

A straight flush poker is a five-card hand consisting of all cards from a single suit, in sequence. In other words, a straight flush consists of four cards of one rank and one card of another rank, both running from ace to king or from ace to jack. All suits are equal in poker—there’s no higher suit—so if you happen to have a straight flush in hearts it will be just as good as a straight flush in spades. This also means that hands with multiple straights or flushes cannot beat each other—the hand with more suited cards takes precedence.

Understanding One Pair

In poker, a one-pair poker hand is a standard pair of tens or any other two cards of similar value. A pair does not contain both a high and low card, which is why players often refer to a hand as a 1-pair or two pairs instead of just saying pairs. A hand with just one pair is ranked according to its highest card. For example, an ace and jack would beat two kings but lose to three queens. In different card games—including Omaha Hold ‘Em—this ranking differs slightly from what you see here, but it’s important to understand one pair’s hands on their own terms before comparing them across various games.

Understanding Two Pairs

While most players know that a pair of Aces is better than a pair of 2s, they may not know why. The answer has to do with two factors: (1) how many cards remain and (2) community cards. If you’re playing with community cards like a flop, turn, and the river then those four cards are shared by every player at the table; however if you’re playing heads up then those four cards aren’t relevant. In either case, two pairs will always beat one pair and any hand with three of a kind will always beat two pairs.

Understanding Three of a Kind

Three of a kind is perhaps the most straightforward hand you can have. It beats all single pairs but loses to any hand that has more than three of a kind. The only hands that are better than three of a kind are straight flushes and royal flushes. An example would be having five 9s on a K-9-5-3-2 rainbow board.

Understanding Full House

A full house is a hand that includes three of a kind and a pair. If you’re playing poker and you have a full house, it means your three of a kind beats whatever your opponent has. When two players each have full houses, it’s important to know that if they don’t share card values, whoever holds the highest pairs wins. For example, if both players have kings and queens as their pairs—but one player has an ace-king while another has an ace-queen—the player with four kings would win since he or she has higher pairs than his or her opponent.

Understanding Four of a Kind

While two pair is great, nothing beats a four of a kind. And if you ever play poker, understanding what qualifies as a four of a kind (and what doesn’t) is vital to know how to act when it’s your turn. So let’s take a look at how to tell whether or not you have one—and if you do, which ones are strongest.


Bettina Cabana is a web designer and a freelance fashion blogger. She loves to write about the latest trends, women's fashion, and a lot more in the industry. Bettina has been working for multiple clients in the past many years. She likes to explore new places, cultures, and cook in her free time.

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