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Poker Hands - What Beats What?

Poker Hands - What Beats What?

Need to know the basics of poker, or need a little refresher course? No problem; here is what you need to know.

First and for most, a standard 52-card deck is used in every poker game, regardless of the number of players or the style of game that is being played. The standard deck features the following cards starting with the highest rank to the lowest as listed below:
  1. Ace
  2. King
  3. Queen
  4. Jack
  5. 10
  6. 9
  7. 8
  8. 7
  9. 6
  10. 5
  11. 4
  12. 3
  13. 2
  14. Ace (an ace can count as both a low or high card)

Each rank is featured in the same 4 equal suits:
  1. Spades
  2. Diamonds
  3. Hearts
  4. Clubs

The object is to achieve the highest hand by obtaining one of the winning card combinations listed below in the table (winning hands below are listed starting with the strongest and ending with the lowest):

Poker HandExample Hand
Royal Flush Ace, King, Queen, Jack and 10 of the same suit
Straight Flush 5 consecutive cards of the same suit (for example,5,6,7,8,9 of diamonds)
Four of a Kind 4 cards with the same value (for example, 8 of hearts, 8 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 8 of spades)
Full House 3 of a kind and a pair, with the 3 of a kind being regarded first (for example, 7 of diamonds, 7 of clubs, 7 of hearts and 4 of spades and 4 of clubs)
Flush Any 5 different cards of the same suit (for example 3, 5, 6, 9, J of hearts)
Straight 5 cards of any suit in consecutive order (for example, 7 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 9 of clubs, 10 of hearts, J of spades)
Three of a Kind 3 cards with the same face value (for example, 10 of clubs, 10 of hearts, 10 of diamonds)
Two Pair 2 sets of pairs (for example, 2 of clubs, 2 of hearts and 6 of diamonds, 6 of hearts)
One Pair 2 cards with the same face value (for example 3 of clubs and 3 of hearts)
High Card In the event that no one has any of the above hands, the player with the highest card wins.

Top 10 Poker Tips

1. Playing too many hands

Nearly all beginners play way too many starting hands, most top players typically play between 20-30% of their starting hands. It's a lot better to concentrate on higher value starting hands and help remove the luck element of the game.

2. Know when to hold'em, and know when to fold'em

This is the biggest tip you will get, learn how to fold a hand, and don't be a fisherman, i.e. making a call, thinking you're going to get what you want. Many beginners keep betting regardless of the board or what their opponent's actions are suggesting. Pros frequently say it's the hands you can lay down that are often the key to profitable play.

3. Choose less skillful opponents

Sounds fairly obvious, but you should play at betting limits where you can beat the majority of players. Move down the limits if you are having difficulties winning cash. It's best to leave the ego at the door when playing poker.

4. Keep an eye on your opponent's habits

Especially, when you aren't in the hand. The best time to try and read other players, is when you aren't emotionally invested in a hand, you can make more prudent observations this way. Watch your opponents bet, how much they bet and in what position are they betting. Learning how your opponents play is one of the keys to success.

5. Betting to gain knowledge

To bet should not mean you always have the best hand. Pro players use various betting techniques to try to gain information. For example, a defensive bet is one that you can use early on to avoid calling a bigger future bet. A re-raise may be used to probe the credibility of your opponent's hand.

6. Learn to put your opponents on a hand

Once you have mastered Tips 4 & 5, try and put your knowledge to work. Try being in your opponent's shoes, and learn to put them on a hand. Ask questions like "Why did he re-raise me that amount?", and "Why did he only call in the previous betting round?".

7. Learn how to bluff and semi-bluff the right times against the right players, and at the right frequency. Bluffing is often a misunderstood concept, and many beginners dismay most pros use bluffs quite sparingly. A bluff can be very effective when used rarely, and where there is a seemingly low risk of being called by your opponent.

8. Changing Gears

Unpredictability is a strength in poker. Most pros can figure out a really loose player by waiting for the nuts (top hand) and being patient. However, an even easier opponent is a tight player or "rock", who plays only the Group 1 type hands. You need to change your game up, and let them see that you can run bluffs, and can play some lower value starting hands. These changes should be subtle and shouldn't dramatically affect the flop rate we mentioned in Tip #1

9. Understand player position

..and how it is critical. Not only is it important to play strong hands, it is even more important in what position you play them. For example, the ideal position is the Button (the Dealer), as you are last to act, and have the advantage of watching all of the betting action before you need to make a decision. eg. If the action before you consists of a bet, a raise, and a re-raise, and you hold a pair of Tens, you might think that folding is the right decision.

10. Read books and take notes

Players can always learn more if they want to be a better poker player. Keep notes on what works and doesn't work for you, and eventually you will come up with a style of play that works uniquely for you and improves your game.

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