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Determining a winning poker hand

determining a winning poker hand

When trying your hand at playing poker the most important thing you have to learn is determining the winning hand in any scenario. To achieve this you will first have to memorize the order of poker hands. Once you understand that a flush beats a straight and three of a kind beats two pair, you’re on the right path. Most poker hands are pretty simple to determine a winner. If for example a player has a flush and no one else does, you don’t have to strain yourself in trying to figure out a winner.

But sometimes things will be a bit more complicate and people around the table might get confused. In order to avoid this you should always remember these basic rules:

  • A play has to make the best hand possible using exactly five cards
  • All five cards will be used to determine the strength of a particular hand
  • All cards outside of the best five have no bearing on the determined strength of a hand.

When playing Texas Hold’em Poker, players can use any combination of cards from their hand and board cards. What this means is if the best five-card hand a player can make is done by using the five cards on the board, then that will be his final hand (this is also called playing the board). Here are some common moments that can arise at the poker table and cause confusion.

Two Players have a Flush

If two or more players have a flush, you award the pot to the player with the highest flush. For example if one player has a flush with a ten and another with a nine, the player who has the ten will win the pot.

Two Players have Two Pairs

In this case, you should always remember that the higher pair will determine the winner. Only if that pair is the same will you rank the winner by the second pair. If both players have identical pairs, then the kicker will decide the winner (the highest-value fifth card is the kicker). If this kicker is a card on the board, meaning both players share it, the round will end in a draw and the pot will be split amongst the two players.

So just remember that when two players are completely tied the kicker will be the one that decides the winner. There might be cases in which both players will play the board and the kickers that they have in their hands will elect the winner.

The Omaha Rule

The rules for determining a winner in Omaha Poker are pretty much the same as in Texas Hold’em with one extra rule:

  • All players have to make the best five-card hand using exactly two cards from his hand (you get four cards in the game of Omaha) and three cards from the board.

What this means is that if there are four hearts on the board and you only have one in your hand you can’t make a flush. You always have to use exactly two cards from your hand.

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