The Top Poker Hands: Understanding the Best Hands in the Game

Poker hands are how players make sense of the cards that are dealt in any given game. The strength of a player’s hand will often determine whether or not they stay in the game, and what kind of bet they can make. It is essential for any serious poker player to learn the top poker hands and how to recognize them quickly during a game.

Poker is hugely popular amongst South African gamers, and it’s no wonder why – particularly when you consider the many great options available at the best online casinos in South Africa. Most poker games involve a standard five-card poker hand which consists of five cards dealt from a 52-card deck, with one card being dealt face up and the others face down. Players then need to evaluate their hand based on its rank, which determines who has the best five-card combination according to well-established rules of poker hierarchy – from high card to royal flush.

Types of Poker Hands


In poker, there are many types of poker hands that you may come across during a game. Each type of hand is ranked in order of strength, with the strongest combination of Poker cards taking the highest priority.

The categories and their ranked priorities include:

  1. High Card: A single high card (e.g., an Ace) is the weakest poker hand – any combination with or without other cards that do not fall into any other category listed below is considered a High Card and beats all other High Cards by virtue of its highest card.
  2. Pair: Two cards of equal ranks, such as two Queens or two Aces, are considered a Pair and beat all single high cards as well as any other combinations that do not have one pair or better.
  3. Two Pair: Two pairs (e.g., two Aces and two Sixes) are better than one pair but still weaker than Three-of-a-Kind (which is discussed below).
  4. Three-of-a-Kind: Three matching cards (e.g., three Sevens) make up a Three-of-a-Kind and beat Two Pairs and any high card combination.
  5. Four-of-a-Kind: Four matching cards, such as four Kings, make up a Four Of Kind, and beat all lower-ranked combinations including Three‐Of‐A‐Kind and both Pairs.
  6. Full House: This combination consists of three matching cards plus a pair (e.g., three Jacks plus two 10s) and it beats everything except Four Of A Kind.
  7. Flush: Any five non‐consecutive cards belonging to the same suit make up what is known as a Flush, which has more value than Straights but less value than Five Of A Kind.
  8. Straight: Five consecutive playing cards from different suits comprise this poker hand which has more value than Two Pairs or Three Of A Kind, but less value than Flush or Full House.
  9. Five Of The Kind: This one refers to the rare case when all five playing cards feature the same rank — it trumps even Straight Flushes on account of its unparalleled strength among Poker hands.

Analyzing Hand Strength


Absolute hand strength is simply how good your cards are on their own; for example, an ace and a queen will almost always be a strong starting hand. Relative hand strength measures the value of your cards compared to what cards you think your opponent has. For example, if you believe that your opponent has an ace, then having two pairs can give you more confidence since you have higher cards than what they may have.

In each poker situation, you must analyze both the absolute and relative strengths of your hand. This requires knowing the odds of what hands could be held by each player, as well as interpreting betting patterns both before and after the flop (the three face-up community cards). It’s important to know when to increase or decrease bets in order to gain an advantage or fold and save chips for future hands.

The overall goal in each game is to make the most profitable choices throughout each hand given all these uncertain factors, which ultimately comes from developing the ability to analyze how strong individual hands are in any given situation.

Common Mistakes to Avoid


It pays to understand the common mistakes that players make when playing poker. Knowing what to avoid can help you become a successful player. Here are some of the most common mistakes that new players make:

  • Focusing too much on one game: A mistake many rookie players make is to focus too much on just one game such as Texas Hold’em or Seven Card Stud. Every poker game has its own subtleties and nuances that can be learned by playing multiple variants. It is important to keep learning and diversifying in order to master the different strategies necessary for success in each variant.
  • Not paying attention to cards in play: Some players tend to overlook how many cards have already been dealt during a hand, as well as what suits have been dropped from the deck. This can cause problems when trying to calculate odds and make decisions about bets, river cards, and raises throughout the course of a round. Keeping track of all this information is key for making wise decisions on any given hand.
  • Assuming good hands will always win: Making assumptions about which hand will win at a showdown can lead to serious losses if you’re relying too much on luck instead of careful calculation of odds. For example, a flush will often beat two pairs, but not if one or more of those pairs includes an ace or king! Taking into account all possible combinations is essential for making wise decisions in poker games.
  • Trying too hard to bluff: Bluffing is an important part of poker but it requires skill and finesse in order to be successful; otherwise, you end up giving off signals that attentive opponents may pick up on. It’s important not only knowing when it’s time to bluff but also behaving accordingly without giving away your intentions so opponents don’t realize what your true motivation is for making certain actions throughout each round of betting.


In conclusion, it is important to understand the winning poker hands and their order of importance. Playing poker requires a lot of skill and understanding the card rankings used in the game is essential for success. Familiarizing yourself with the most powerful five-card poker hands and how they rank will help you win more games. It may also be beneficial to develop an understanding of other combinations, such as Straight Flushes and Two Pair so that you can better anticipate them during each round.