So, you know your hand rankings in poker?

Sure, everyone knows that a pair of aces is the highest ranking pocket card hand, and most people know that the statistically worst hand you can be dealt, isn’t an Ace and Two, or even a Two and Three, but actually an unsuited seven and two.

But do you know how your pair of sevens compares to Ace Queen? What about your unsuited Ace King against a suited King Queen?

What are poker’s danger hands and which hands perform better than you would expect?

It is only when you examine all the potential hands you could be dealt as your starting hand (there are 1326 possible combinations of hands you could be dealt with your pocket cards) that you realise that understanding the hand rankings is so much more than knowing a pair of aces beats any other pair.

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It is about understanding the likely value of the hand you hold compared to what your opponents will likely have.

We will look at some of those surprising poker stats later in the article, but first let us give you a quick rundown of the ten best starting hands in poker according to statistical analysis.

The Best Starting Hands in Texas Hold’em Ranked

AA wins
Top Hand on Hold’em – Pocket Aces
  1. Pair of Aces
  2. Pair of Kings
  3. Pair of Queens
  4. Pair of Jacks
  5. Ace King – Suited
  6. Pair of Tens
  7. Ace Queen – Suited
  8. Ace Jack – Suited
  9. King Queen – Suited
  10. Ace King – Off Suit
  11. Pair of Nines
  12. Ace Ten – Suited
  13. King Jack – Suited
  14. Queen Jack – Suited
  15. Jack Ten – Suited
  16. Ace Queen – Off Suit
  17. Pair of Eights
  18. King Ten – Suited
  19. Queen Ten – Suited
  20. Jack Nine – Suited
  21. Ten Nine – Suited
  22. Nine Eight – Suited
  23. Ace Jack – Off Suit
  24. King Queen – Off Suit
  25. Pair of Sevens
  26. Ace Nine – Suited
  27. Ace Eight – Suited
  28. Ace Seven – Suited
  29. Ace Six – Suited
  30. Ace Five – Suited
  31. Ace Four – Suited
  32. Ace Three – Suited
  33. Ace Two – Suited
  34. Queen Nine – Suited
  35. Ten Eight – Suited
  36. Nine Seven – Suited
  37. Eight Seven – Suited
  38. Seven Six – Suited
  39. King Jack – Off Suit
  40. Queen Jack – Off Suit
  41. Jack Ten – Off Suit
  42. Pair of Sixes
  43. Pair of Fives
  44. King Nine – Suited
  45. Jack Eight – Suited
  46. Eight Six – Suited
  47. Seven Five – Suited
  48. Five Four – Suited
  49. Ace Ten – Off Suit
  50. King Ten – Off Suit
  51. Queen Ten – Off Suit
  52. Pair of Fours
  53. Pair of Threes
  54. Pair of Twos

For the novice player, there are some startling pointers to know here. For example, did you know that lower value pairs (six and below) were ranked so low?

Did you also see how much lower ranked an Ace Nine suited was compared to an Ace Ten suited?

It’s also somewhat disquieting to note that there are over 50 starting hands better than a pair of fours, threes or twos, including a five and four suited?

David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth produced a fantastic strategy guide “Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players” which showed the ranking all starting hands in Texas Hold’em and when you should play them from different positions around the table.

This is required reading for poker players that want to understand how their starting hands rank against others as well as explaining other productive strategies used within the game of Texas Hold’em too.

But hang on…A Pair of Twos beats an Ace King in poker ranking, so why is the Ace King ranked so much higher than so many other pocket card pairs?

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That’s a good question and it is one that has a simple answer:

The reason the Ace King ranks so much higher is because Texas Hold’em Poker is only partly about the two cards you have in your hand exclusive to you.

There are five other cards (flop, turn and river) that can potentially be brought into the equation which you can use to improve the strength of your poker hand.

It is because that simple fact, that the hand rankings become so much more complicated!

To understand why that is, we are going to have to delve a little into the somewhat counter-intuitive world of poker mathematics and statistics.

Before the pocket cards are dealt

  • You can have 1326 possible combinations of two pocket cards from a standard deck.
  • However, in Texas Hold’em, the four suits hold equal value (an Ace of Hearts and a 10 of Hearts has the same absolute value as an Ace of Clubs and Ten of Clubs)
  • So what this means is that for starting hands, you can have a total of 13 pocket pairs (AA down to 22), 78 hands that have two cards of the same suit and a further 78 hands that have two cards of different suits. A total of 169 hands.

However, everything changes when you add the first three cards of the flop, and then the two cards provided by the Turn and River.

And then you get some weird statistical anomalies which defy logic, but which are correct.

I’m not going to go too in-depth into these statistics when the flop, turn and river are shown as the maths is somewhat complicated and this post is aimed more at beginner players.

However, outlined below are your odds of landing the specified outcome on any given hand of poker before the cards have been dealt.

Poker Hand Conclusion Odds

  • 50.12% – High Card
  • 42.27% – A Pair
  • 4.75% – Two Pairs
  • 2.11% – Three of a Kind
  • 0.39% – Straight
  • 0.20% – Flush
  • 0.14% – Full House
  • 0.02% – Four of a Kind
  • 0.000013% – Straight Flush
  • <0.000002% – Royal Flush

However, once you have been dealt your two pocket card, the odds of landing one of these hands can change markedly. For example, if you are dealt a pocket pair, then your chances of making three of a kind on the flop increase to 13.33% from 2.11% at the start of the hand.

But to show you a few examples of how weird these poker stats can be, check out these poker facts below.

Daniel Negreanu 2021 Poker Masters

Weird Texas Hold’em Poker Hand Facts

  • Going heads up against a Pair of Aces, what hand (other than the other pair of aces) gives you the best chance of winning?

Is it Ace King? Ace Queen, Pair of Kings? No, strangely the best chance you have of cracking a pair of aces, statistically speaking is with pocket cards of 6-5 suited, but even then your chances of success are around 22%.

  • I’ve never hit a Royal Flush? Am I just unlucky?

No, it’s probably because you have not played anywhere near enough hands to do so. Before any card is dealt, you have a 1 in 649,740 chance of landing a Royal Flush.

However, if you’ve been dealt two suited cards in your pocket pair that could form part of a Royal Flush, such as the King of Hearts and Ten of Hearts, then your chances improve dramatically, but are still a 1 in 19,600 chance.

What that means is that on average, out of 19,600 pocket cards dealt that comprise of two of the cards needed to make a Royal Flush, only 1 out of those 19,600 hands will see a Royal Flush come out on the remaining community cards.

  • What are your chances of landing a pair with unpaired pocket cards?

Your chances of landing a pair with unpaired pocket cards of any suit on the flop are surprisingly good at 32.43% for one card to pair with one of the flop cards.

  • I hold two connecting cards (suited or off suited) what are my chances of landing a straight on the flop?

Your chances of landing a straight when holding pocket connectors increase from 0.39% before the hand was dealt to 1.29%. Which should suggest to you your chances are not good to hit all the cards to need on the flop only!

In this article, we’ve given you an appraisal of the best 54 starting hands in poker, as well as some of the stats behind those hands. We hope you found this useful!

So why not put this new knowledge to the test by playing at bet365 Poker?