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Poker Hands

Constructing poker hands is different depending on what poker variant is being played. Below is a listing of how poker hands are constructed for popular variants. Hand construction is important when learning how to play poker because different variants have different rules for how hands are made.

Holdem:

Played for high, players use any combination of their 2 hole cards and the 5 community cards to make the best 5-card poker hands. Thus, players may use both, one, or neither of their hole cards to make the best poker hand.

A Texas Holdem Hand

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Omaha:

Played for high, players must use exactly 2 of their 4 hole cards and exactly 3 of the 5 community cards to make the best 5-card hand. For example, someone holding A♠K♦K♥Q♦ would not have a flush on a board reading K♠T♠3♠2♠5♥ because they must use 2 of their hole cards. To make a flush the player must have at least 2 cards of the same suit within their hole cards.

An Omaha Hand

Omaha hi/lo:

Hand construction is identical to high-only Omaha, but the pot is split between the best high hand and the best low hand. Players may use the same cards to make both the high and low portions of the hand. For example, holding A♠K♥3♠2♠ on a board of 8♠5♠4♣K♦J♠, a player may use the A♠ to make both the nut flush for the high portion and to make the nut low for the low portion.

Razz:

Played for low, players must use any 5 of their 7 cards in order to make the best hand. Razz is a stud variant, so players receive 2 face down cards, followed by 4 face up cards and a final card face down. Razz uses the A-5 ranking system, explained in the Poker Ranks section below.

A Razz Hand

Draw:

Played for high or low, in draw poker players must use their 5 hole cards to make the best possible hand. Depending on the variant, players will have 1-3 chances to discard unwanted hole cards and draw new ones to make a better poker hand.

A 5 Card Draw Hand

2-7:

A form of draw poker played for low, players make the best hand utilizing their 5 hole cards and the drawing rounds in which they may discard unwanted cards and receive new ones. This game is typically played with either 1 or 3 drawing rounds and uses the 2-7 ranking system explained in the Poker Ranks section below.

A 2-7 Lowball Hand

Pineapple:

Played for high, players are dealt 3 hole cards and must discard one before seeing any community cards. After this, they must use any combination of their 2 remaining hole cards and the 5 community cards to make the best poker hand, just as in holdem.

A pineapple hand example

Open Face Pineapple:

A Chinese poker variant, players must make two 5-card poker hands and one 3-card poker hand. In order to qualify, the bottom 5-card hand must be the strongest of the 3, the second 5-card hand must be the next strongest, and the 3-card hand must be the weakest. Players begin with 5 cards which they place face up in any open slots for the 3 hands. Play continues with players drawing 3 cards when it is their turn, placing 2 within their hand and discarding 1 until all slots are filled.

An Open Face Pineapple Hand

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Poker Hand Ranks:

High Hand Ranking: This is the most common system of ranking poker hands. The best possible hand is a royal flush, which is a straight from ten to ace with all cards being the same suit, such as A♠K♠Q♠J♠T♠. The rankings continue with straight flush, four-of-a-kind, full house and more.

See all poker hand ranks

Low Hand Ranking: For games played for low, there are 2 ranking systems.

The A-5 system counts aces as low and does not count straights and flushes as high hands. Thus the best hand is A♠2♣3♦4♥5♥.

The 2-7 system counts aces and high and straights and flushes are counted as high hands. Thus the best hand is 7♥5♠4♣3♣2♦ where at least 2 different suits are present.

In both systems the hands are read from the high card down, meaning someone holding 8♦7♣6♥5♥3♠ would beat a player holding 9♠5♠4♣3♣2♦.

For more detailed information, please visit our poker hand ranking page.

Poker Hand Odds:

Getting strong hands can be rare. Below are a few examples of the chances of making sought after hands:

Holdem:

Royal Flush

0.0032%

1 in 31,250

Flush

5.82%

1 in 17

Straight

10.40%

1 in 10

Pocket Aces (preflop)

0.45%

1 in 221

Razz:

Wheel (A-2-3-4-5)

0.58%

1 in 171

For more detailed information, please visit the poker hand odds page.