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How to Assess Your Poker Hand

With a standard deck of 52 cards, there are more than 2 million possible pokers hands you could form—but only 9 of them can help you win.


  • Step 1: Assess hand Royal Flush (10,J,Q,K,Ace--same suit), Straight Flush (5 cards--in sequence, same suit), Four of a Kind (4 cards--same face value), Full House (3 of a kind with a pair), Flush (5 in same suit), Straight (5 cards--in sequence, different suits), 3 of a Kind (3 cards--same face value, different suits), Two Pair, Pair (2 cards of the same face value)
  • Step 2: No winning hand If no player is holding a winning hand the player holding the card with the highest face value—the High Card—wins. If two or more players have high cards of equal value, the next highest card in each hand is used to break the tie. If those cards are also the same, the third highest cards are used, etc., until the tie is broken.
  • TIP: On the rare occasion when two or more players have the exact same hands and the tie can’t be broken, the winnings are divided among them.
  • Step 3: Reassess hand Reassess your hand as each round unfolds. As new cards are drawn or flopped, consider their usefulness in building a winning hand, discard accordingly, and hope for the best.
  • FACT: A "Christmas Hand" is slang for a hand of 3 Kings—a reference to the three Magi said to have visited the baby Jesus after his birth.

You Will Need

  • A standard deck of playing cards
  • A little mental acuity

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