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In order to succeed at poker, you must memorize the ranking of hands. All poker players should know, for instance, that a flush beats a straight. Here is the ranking, from the strongest to the weakest hand.

Royal Flush: A royal flush is a straight flush with the ace as the highest of five cards.

Straight Flush: A straight flush is a straight all of the same suit. In the case of two straight flushes during one hand, the one containing the highest card is the winner. The pot is split if both players have the same high card. (A "hand" can mean either the cards in a player's hand or a round of play; in this case, "hand" refers to a round of play.)

Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank. Four of a kind is often referred to as "quads." The highest four of a kind is four aces followed by four kings on down to four twos.

Full House: A full house consists of three of a kind and two of a kind. If there are two full houses during one hand, the one with the largest three of a kind wins. In Texas Hold'em, it is possible for two players to have the same three of a kind; in those situations the pairs determine the winner. If two players have identical hands, the pot is split.

Flush: A flush consists of five cards of the same suit. For example: K-J-9-7-2. In the event of two flushes during one hand, the flush with the highest card wins. If they are the same rank, it goes to the next highest card, and on down to the fifth card if necessary. If the two hands are identical, the pot is split between the winners.

Straight: A straight consists of five cards of any suit in order. For example: Q-J-T-9-8. As with the other hands, in the event of two straights, the one that starts with the highest rank wins. Aces can be used as a high card above a king or as a low card below a two to make a straight. You can't, however, use a king, ace, two sequence; and an ace below a two cannot be used as the high card.

Three of a kind: Three of the same rank. For example: Q-Q-Q. Three of a kind is often called a "set" or "trips."

Two Pairs: Four cards of two ranks. For example: J-J-6-6 This would be called "Jacks up." In the event of two players holding two pairs at the same time, the highest pair wins. If both high pairs are the same rank, then the higher second pair wins. If both high and low pairs are the same, the pot is split.

One Pair: Two cards of the same rank. For example: 8-8. If two players have an identical pair, such as two aces, the next highest card in each player's hand is compared to see who wins. This is often called a "kicker" and is frequently necessary in Texas Hold'em. (The kicker will be explained in more detail in the next chapter.)

High Card: In the event no player has a hand containing at least one pair, the hand with the highest card is the winner. The rank of cards starting from highest is ace, king, queen, jack, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 if the ace is used as a 1.

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