How to play Poker Hand

Since Texas Hold’em is the most common poker variant, this quick guide to Texas Hold’em hands will focus on the fact that poker is a card game based on mathematics and probability. How many times have you heard this and how long did it take you to stop listening after the word “math”? No one wants to spend hours reading about a game they just want to play. We are aware of this. However, keep in mind that if you don’t know the basics, you’ll give your opponents huge advantages. In poker, this includes the correct order of the poker hands.

Therefore, you should definitely not miss the following lesson. Why? In poker, the order of the starting hands along with knowing how each hand plays after the flop is the foundation. This applies to all variants of poker that you play.

Since Texas Hold’em is the most common poker variant, this quick guide to Texas Hold’em poker hands will only focus on this game. By examining how wins differ on certain starting hands, you already have an advantage over almost all of your opponents.

Order of poker hands

While there are 169 unique and varied starting hands in Texas Hold’em, there are only nine categories in Showdown. We’ll look at these one by one, going from the most valuable to the lowest value hand.

Royal flush

The royal flush is the highest of all poker hands and technically the best straight flush. It consists of the five consecutive cards up to the ace, starting with the ten. It can be any suit, but all cards must be the same suit. For example AKQJ-10 of spades, hearts, diamonds or clubs.

straight flush

The Straight Flush is the best of all poker hands with the Royal Flush being the absolute pinnacle. A royal flush is AKQJ-10 of the same suit. The straight flush is a series of cards of the same suit, such as e.g. 10-9-8-7-6.


four of a kind

Also called Four-of-a-Kind or “Quads” in English, it is the next best poker hand after a straight flush and is also very rare. A four of a kind contains four cards of the same rank. An example of this is 5-5-5-5-K. The lowest four-of-a-kind is four deuces and the highest is four aces.

full house

is the next highest hand in poker after four of a kind and consists of three of a kind and a pair. For example: 10-10-10-8-8 is a “tens full of eights” full house. The highest ranked full house is AAAKK (aces full of kings) and the lowest is 2-2-2-3-3.



Consists of five cards of the same suit but not in numerical order. For example, an AK-5-4-2 flush in spades has the same poker value as AK-5-4-2 in clubs. A flush wins against a straight.



A straight consists of five consecutive cards. The highest possible straight is AKQJ-10 (also called “Broadway”). Straight combinations go all the way down to 5-4-3-2-A. This is called a “wheel” in poker parlance.




is referred to as the three-of-a-kind in English and is the next hand in poker order. This hand is often a bit confusing for some people. It can be a “set”, meaning you have a pair in your hand, such as B. 7-7 with another 7 on the board. “Trips” is a pair on the board, such as B. 5-5-4 with another 5 in your starting hand.

two couples

Two pair is one of the most common winning hands in Texas Hold’em. These poker hands are simply two pair, as the name suggests. If you hold 8-8 and the board is 7-7-3, you would have two pair, eights and sevens. With QJ and a flop of AQJ, you also have two pair, queens and jacks.

A couple

A pair is just a single pair, no more and no less. Your pair in your starting hand can contain JJ or AJ and on the board it can have A-10-9 for a pair of aces. In Hold’em, the board can also contain a pair with KQ in your hand and 8-8-2 on the board. Here you, but also your opponents, have a pair of eights.

no pair

This is the lowest hand ever in Texas Hold’em if you don’t even have a pair like e.g. B. Holding Ks-10s in your starting hand on a board with 9h-3s-2d-7h-Jd. Here your hand is referred to as “King High” instead of No Pair. However, there is still a ranking in the Texas Hold’em variant of poker, as Ace High is higher than King High, etc.

Abbreviations for poker hands

There are different ways to name poker hands. The most commonly used abbreviation is “AsKd” for the starting hand, Ace of Spades, King of Diamonds.

Below are some examples of starting hands and what they mean.

hand shortcut Full name
A10 or -10 Ace ten
As10d or As-10d Ace of spades, ten of diamonds
A10s Ace ten of the same suit
A10+ AX hands with a kicker greater than 10 only
x, Ax or AX, AX Ace and any other card
YY or YY pocket jacks
YY+ Pocket jacks and larger pairs only, including QQ, KK and AA

Ranking of starting hands and their strength

There are 1326 possible two-card combinations in Hold’em. But because AsKs has the same preflop value as AdKd etc., the actual non-equivalent number is 169. The number consists of 13 pocket pairs, 78 hands of the same suit and 78 hands of different suits. The worst hand is 3-2 at the bottom and the best hand is AA at the top.

The value of your starting hand has a big impact on your chances of making the best hand on the river at showdown. A hand like B. AA could win the pot without further improvement and a hand like 7-2 would need at least a pair and possibly more to win. These poker hands are much more dependent on bluffing to be successful.

Starting hands determine how much “strength” you carry into the flop and beyond. Remember, your “starting hand” is just a starting hand! There are another three cards added on the flop and then possibly two more cards added on the turn and river. Anything and everything can These five community cards can drastically change the strength of your hand after it’s dealt.

It is crucial to playing your poker hands well that you are aware that the strength of your own cards can change positively or negatively before and after the flop. For example, a hand like AK is quite strong pre-flop but also has the ability to improve by leaps and bounds post-flop. If you pair the ace or king, you have top pair with the top kicker.

Starting hands can be divided into different categories. These include the following:

pocket pairs

As the name suggests, it is a starting hand consisting of two cards of the same rank, such as B. Pocket sevens, sixes or even better… aces.

Broadway tickets

The term “Broadway” describes a hand made up of two cards from ten to ace. Such as KQ or KJ. A Suited Broadway means your cards are of the same suit. With this hand you can form a Broadway – the best possible straight in Hold’em, AKQJ-10. If that straight is of the same suit, then you have a royal flush, the highest-scoring hand in hold’em


In Texas Hold’em, many players like to play consecutive cards such as B. J-10, 9-8 and 6-5 because they have potential for a straight. If the cards belong to the same suit, then they are referred to as “suited connectors”.

Suited cards

Suited cards are simply two cards of the same suit. Poker hands with suited cards are very good for making flushes, especially when one card is an ace. The ace guarantees you the best possible flush as long as there is no possibility of a straight flush.


The term “gapper” is often used for maps that are almost consecutive but have a gap, such as B. 9-7 (this is often referred to as One – Gapper). A “double gapper” means that two cards are missing between the connectors, e.g. B. 9-6. Many players enjoy playing with these cards because the resulting straight is not obvious on the board.

Hold’em odds and probabilities

As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, Texas Hold’em is a game of odds and probabilities. The math side of poker can be a bit monotonous. However, the player who knows the odds of the poker hands well is better prepared for the competition.

Knowing the value of your hand and recognizing the best hand pre-flop, flop, turn, and river will assist you in your decision to fold, call, or bet and raise. You’re also better prepared to value bet when you have the best hand.

Take a look at the Texas Hold’em chart below for an indication of which poker hands to fold, call, bet or raise.

Using spreadsheets, calculators and poker trackers.

Poker odds is a very complicated subject and not something you can learn without help. Luckily, you don’t have to figure all this out yourself. There are many fantastic tools available today to help players get to grips with this slightly more difficult part of the game.

Numerous charts and online software to assist you in calculating poker hand odds are available. Capital and odds calculators are very easy to use. You can find out the odds and probabilities of any situation you enter. Other more demanding programs, e.g. The poker tracking software, for example, can further assist you in your decision to fold or raise.

Most of these software programs can be used legally online. However, to be sure, check your online poker site in advance.

The Strength of Poker Hands in Pre-Flop – Hold’em 9-Max

In the 9-hand Texas Hold’em games (also known as Full Ring), hand strength is even more important. You’re playing against three additional seats over the 6-Max. So your starting hand has to be chosen much more carefully. However, you can play additional hands in position – and play them stronger. This is especially the case with unraised pots.

Good examples of starting hands include pairs of tens or higher and one of the two highest Broadway cards. Bad hands are low consecutive and unsuited hands, such as B. 7-2 or even hands that have a high and low card, such as. B.Q-4.

Even stronger poker hands such as B. KJ can suddenly become unplayable if there is too much action in a hand. So you need to consider the pre-flop action when deciding whether or not to play a hand. Your KJ could be from a source such as B. AK or even KK in situations with a lot of early positions with pre-flop bets and raises.

You should consider your position in the hand, the action ahead and the number of players following you when deciding whether or not to play.

Chart for Opening Hands by Position – Hold’em 9-Max

The following Texas Hold’em 9-Max ranking chart is a good standard guide for starting hand ranges, opening possible hands, and how you should play them. The playability of poker hands is very high at the beginning and decreases with many raises.

All hand charts take into account the relative strength of the opposing hands you might be facing. This chart was created for beginners and advanced players. However, experienced players can also use it as a good indicator. As a beginner, you really should fold any poker hands that aren’t listed on this chart, as they’re probably all worthless!

Early position (UTG (EP1), UTG+1 (EP2)

If others fold or are the first to react – Raise on AA-TT, AKs, AK, AQs, AQ

If caller – AA-TT, AKs, AK, AQs, AQ raise

Call on Raise – Raise any raise with AA-QQ AKs, AK and JJ-88

Middle Position (MP1, MP2, HJCK (Hijack)

If others fold – increase on AA-TT, ATs+, ATo+, KJs+, KQo

If caller raise – raise with AA-TT, ATs+, ATo+, KJs+, KQo and call 99-22, KJo, QTs+, JTs

If raised – raise all raises with AA-QQ, AKs, AK and call JJ-88

Late Position (CO (Cut-Off), BTN (D-Button)

If everyone else folds – Raise all pairs, A2s+, A9o+

If caller – raise AA-TT, ATs+, ATo+, KJs+, KQo and call 99-22, A-2s+, KJo, QTs+, JTs

If raised – AA-QQ, AKs, AKo self-raise and call JJ-22

Small blind

If everyone else folds – All pairs, raise A2s+ A7o+

If caller – raise AA-TT, ATs+, ATo+, KJs+, KQ and call 99-22, A2s+, T9s+, T8s+, KJ

On raise – AA-QQ, AKs, AK self-raise and call on JJ-88

big blind

If everyone else folds – automatic win and the hand is over

If caller – raise AA-TT, ATs+, ATo+ and check everything else

If raise – AA-QQ, AKs, AKo self-raise and call JJ-88, A2s+. ATo+, KTs+, Kto+

Nicknames for poker hands

Nicknames are popular in many sports. In soccer, when a player kicks the ball hard, they say “bolt” or they call it a “grenade.” The same applies to poker. Many nicknames for poker hands have been invented over the years based on past history and/or player experience. Here are just some of the most famous nicknames to bring you up to speed on poker lingo:

Big Slick – A common nickname for the best unpaired hand in Hold’em (AK)

Doyle Brunson – A term used for the 10-2 poker hands. Two-time WSOP Main Event champion Doyle Brunson won back-to-back world titles with it.

(Fish) Hooks – A pair of jacks are also referred to as a pair of “hooks” or “fish hooks”. This comes from the J in the word “Jacks” which looks like a hook.

Cowboys – Pocket kings are also commonly referred to as “cowboys”.

(Full) Boat – A boat is another nickname used for a full house.

Gutshot – A term denoting the inside straight draw when only one card can make the straight is missing from the straight.

Backdoor Hand – Also known as the “Runner Runner”. This moniker means two consecutive cards needed to form a hand. When the player has 10-9 with a board of 7-4-2 and hits an eight and a jack on the river on the turn. Can you say “River Rat”?

Wheel – Popular poker name for the lowest possible straight, which is A-2-3-4-5.

Two Snowmen – Pocket eights are sometimes referred to as “snowmen” because of their round shape.

Open Ended – These poker hands are straight draws that are open on both sides. For example, 10-9 on an 8-7-2 board requires a jack or six to complete the straight.

Rockets – Poker hands containing aces are often referred to as “rockets” or “pocket rockets”.

Dead Man’s Hand – The famous cowboy Wild Bill was allegedly murdered in a saloon while holding aces and eights in his hand. Now all A-8 poker hands are referred to as “Dead Man’s Hand”.

Valentines – A very specific name for very specific poker hands, Kh-Qh are called “Valentines” for obvious reasons.

Phil Hellmuth – A black pair of nines – These poker hands were made famous by Phil Hellmuth after he won the WSOP Main Event with them in 1989.

Kojak – The starting hand KJ is often referred to as “Kojak” and refers to the American TV series featuring the unique Kojak – Telly “Who Loves You Baby?” Savalas.

The Ladies – Two Queens – These poker hands are also known as the Two Ladies, but are also referred to as “Cowgirls” in reference to the “Cowboys”.

Maverick – The Hand QJ is sometimes called “Maverick” and refers to the theme song of the television series, which has the phrase, “Living on Jacks and Queens” in the lyrics. The Mavericks were players who toured the Old West.

TNT – Pocket tens are sometimes nicknamed TNT. Be careful with these poker hands so you don’t explode with them.

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