Poker handThe word hand in the game of poker is used to mean any of the following:
- The set of cards held by an individual player during play. Joe took another look at his hand when Virginia raised. The term holding can be used for less ambiguity.
- The value of a player's hand(1), as determined by the rules of the game being played (see below). Karen's hand was a flush, but lost to Steve's full house. The term hand value can be used for less ambiguity.
- A single instance of poker game play, also called a deal. We played eight hands of draw poker, then eight hands of stud poker.
- No pair (for example, A-Q-10-5-2)
- One pair (for example, 10-10-K-7-4)
- Two pair (for example, K-K-9-9-J)
- Three of a kind (for example, 4-4-4-K-9)
- Straight (for example, 9-8-7-6-5)
- Flush (for example, K-J-8-7-4 of one suit)
- Full house (for example, 2-2-2-Q-Q)
- Four of a kind (for example, J-J-J-J-6)
- Straight flush (for example, Q-J-10-9-8 of one suit)
- Five of a kind (for example, 6-6-6-6-(Wild), only possible in Wild card games)
Some games called lowball or low poker are played where players strive not for the highest ranking of the above combinations but for the lowest ranking hand. There are three methods of ranking low hands, called Ace-to-five low, Deuce-to-seven low, and Ace-to-six low. The ace-to-five method is most common.
Certain variants use hands of only three cards, either high or low. Three-card low hands can be ranked by any of the three methods above, although with three cards they become ace-to-three (rather than ace-to-five), deuce-to-five, and ace-to-four. The ace-to-three method is the most common, just as the ace-to-five method is most common method for five cards. Three-card high hands are ranked in one of two ways: either with or without straights and flushes. Without (which is the most common, and used such games as Chinese poker), the hands are simply no pair, one pair, and three of a kind. If you add straights and flushes, the order of hands should be changed to reflect the correct probabilities: no pair, one pair, flush, straight, three of a kind, straight flush. This order is used, for example, in Mambo stud.
Some poker games are played with a deck that has been stripped of certain cards, usually low-ranking ones. For example, the Australian game of Manila uses a 32-card deck in which all cards below the rank of 7 are removed, and Mexican stud removes the 8s, 9s, and 10s. In both of these games, a flush ranks above a full house, because having fewer cards of each suit available makes flushes rarer.
Some games add one or more Unconventional handss, or have special exceptions to the rules above. For example, in the game of Pai Gow Poker as played in Nevada, a Wheel (5-4-3-2-A) ranks above a king-high straight, but below an ace-high straight. This is not the case in California, where the nearly identical game is played under the name Double-hand poker using traditional hand values.
The following general rules apply to evaluating poker hands, whatever set of hand values are used.
- Individual cards are ranked A (high), K, Q, J, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 (low).
- Suits have no value.
- A poker hand consists of five cards.
- Hands are ranked first by category, then by individual card ranks.
- The order in which cards are dealt is unimportant.