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This may sound childishly simple, but the basic thing that you need to keep in mind when playing is the value of your poker hand. Entire books and websites — scientific and statistical studies — have been done specifically on the subject of poker hands, poker hand rankings, and poker hands order, to determine the best poker hands.

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Of course, the exact meaning of “best poker hands” changes depending on which variant of poker you happen to be playing (as well as all the little variables that can change for a specific poker game or poker hand). There are 2,598,960 possible starting poker hands in a game of 5-card Stud, but only 169 in a game of Texas Hold’em.

However, in general, certain rules about poker hand rankings can apply, and it’s best you know what to look for and how much you can expect from your poker hand.

Basic rule #1: the best poker hand is the one that you are least likely to get. If you study the poker hand order and the poker hand rankings, you’ll quickly see that easy hands are worth much less. Again, an obvious point, but one that might trip you up if you think you have more than you actually do.

A table of best poker hands order, or standard poker hand ranking for a 5-card start:

Hand Name Description Percent probability
Straight flush Same suit, in sequence 0.00154%
Four of a Kind 4 of same rank (+ a “kicker”) 0.024%
Full House 3 of one rank + 2 of another rank 0.144%
Flush All one suit 0.20%
Straight all in sequence, different suits 0.39%
Three of a Kind 3 of same rank (+ 2 kickers) 2.11%
Two Pair 2 of one rank, 2 of another rank (+ a “kicker”) 4.75%
One Pair 2 cards of same rank (+ 3 kickers) 42.27%
High Card (a.k.a. “Garbage”) nothing 50.12%

As you can see, there are various divisions of each poker hand that further determines the specific best poker hand order; for instance, a royal flush beats any other straight flush, and the higher card ranks in a pair (or two pair, or full house, et cetera) beat lower card ranks of the same hand.

Obviously, the percentages change for seven card games or community card games (like Texas or Omaha Hold’em) but the various poker hand rankings maintain their position as far as which are the best poker hands to get. Wild cards, lowball games (such as Razz) drastically change the poker hand rankings and the best poker hand you could get.

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