July 21, 2007: Poker Hands

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1. Royal Flush
This is the highest poker hand. It consists of ace, king, queen, jack, ten, all in the same

2. Straight Flush
Five cards of the same suit in sequence such as CJC10C9C8C7. Between two straight flushes, the one containing the higher top card is higher. An ace can be counted as low, so H5H4H3H2HA is a straight flush, but its top card is the five, not the ace, so it is the lowest type of straight flush. The cards cannot "turn the corner": D4D3D2DADK is not valid.

3. Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank such as four queens. The fifth card can be anything. This combination is sometimes known as "quads", and in some parts of Europe it is called a "poker", though this term for it is unknown in English. Between two fours of a kind, the one with the higher set of four cards is higher so 3333A is beaten by 44442. It can't happen in standard poker, but if in some other game you need to compare two fours of a kind where the sets of four cards are of the same rank, then the one with the higher fifth card is better.

4. Full House
This consists of three cards of one rank and two cards of another rank for example three sevens and two tens (colloquially known as "sevens full" or more specifically "sevens on tens"). When comparing full houses, the rank of the three cards determines which is higher. For example 99944
beats 888AA. If the threes of a kind were equal, the rank of the pairs would decide.

5. Flush
Five cards of the same suit. When comparing two flushes, the highest card determines which is higher. If the highest cards are equal then the second highest card is compared; if those are equal too, then the third highest card, and so on. For example SKSJS9S3S2 beats DKDJD7D6D5
because the nine beats the seven.

6. Straight
Five cards of mixed suits in sequence for example SQDJH10S9C8. When comparing two sequences, the one with the higher ranking top card is better. Ace can count high or low in a straight, but not both at once, so AKQJ10 and 5432A are valid straights, but 2AKQJ is not. 5432A is the lowest kind of straight, the top card being the five.

7. Three of a Kind
Three cards of the same rank plus two other cards. This combination is also known as Triplets or Trips. When comparing two threes of a kind the hand in which the three equal cards are of higher rank is better. So for example 55532 beats 444KQ. If you have to compare two threes of a kind where the sets of three are of equal rank, then the higher of the two remaining cards in each hand are compared, and if those are equal, the lower odd card is compared.

8. Two Pairs
A pair is two cards of equal rank. In a hand with two pairs, the two pairs are of different ranks (otherwise you would have four of a kind), and there is an odd card to make the hand up to five cards. When comparing hands with two pairs, the hand with the highest pair wins, irrespective of the rank of the other cards so JJ224 beats 1010998 because the jacks beat the tens. If the higher pairs are equal, the lower pairs are compared, so that for example 88663 beats 8855K. Finally, if both pairs are the same, the odd cards are compared, so QQ558
beats QQ554.

9. Pair
A hand with two cards of equal rank and three other cards which do not match these or each other. When comparing two such hands, the hand with the higher pair is better so for example 66432 beats 55AKQ. If the pairs are equal, compare the highest ranking odd cards from each hand; if these are equal compare the second highest odd card, and if these are equal too compare the lowest odd cards. So JJA93 beats JJA87 because the 9 beats the 8.

10. High Card
Five cards which do not form any of the combinations listed above. When comparing two such hands, the one with the better highest card wins. If the highest cards are equal the second cards are compared; if they are equal too the third cards are compared, and so on. So AJ953 beats A10964 because the jack beats the ten.

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