Ties and Split Pots

Since Hold'em uses five community cards, shared by all the players, it is not uncommon to have two or more hands of the same rank competing at the showdown: two full houses, two flushes, also sometimes two straight flushes. It is only a tie if all five cards are identical. Suits don't count in the rankings. One suit does not outrank another.

For instance he board is 44447. Every player still active in the pot (anyone who has not folded) has four 4s. The tie is broken on fifth card. Anyone holding an Ace in their hand has an unbeatable hand. If two players hold an Ace, they split the pot. If no one holds a card higher than a 7, then all the active players spilt the pot.

Full houses are ordered by the rank of the triplet. That means 3, 3, 3, 4, 4 will beat 2, 2, 2, A, A. In poker variations that don't use community cards, the rank of the pair never enters into a comparison of two full houses. Not at least in Hold'em. Suppose we have a flop of 227QK. One player has a K2 another player has Q2 and the third player has 77. The player with the 77 has the best hand, 7s full of deuces (77722). The second best hand is deuces full of king (222KK), and the worst hand of the three is deuces full of Queens 222QQ.

Another occurrence is two players having the same two pair. For example you have AJ. And the other player has AT and the board is A5449. You both have two pair, Aces over fours. But your five-card hand gives you AA44J betting the other player AA44T. The fifth card called a "kicker," breaks the tie. Hold'em is often generally referred to as a game of kickers. It is that tie breaking role of the kicker that's being referred to. It happens more often than you might think.

Note in the above example, if the last card on the board had been a King instead of 9, you both would have a King kicker and would split the pot. You don't go beyond the five-card hand to break ties.

Sometimes no one can beat the hand consisting of the five cards on the board. For example the board contains KKKKA. Another example would is a board of AK742 and no one holds a Heart in their hands. Whenever this happens, it is a tie and all active hands split the pot. Note that if anyone had a Heart they would have a higher flush than the board.

RANK OF POKER HANDS


Straight Flush
Five cards of the same suit, in sequence
T9876
Rank is determined by the highest card. A royal flush such as AKQKT is the highest straight flush.
Four of a kind
Four cards of the same rank, with the fifth card any rank
33337
Rank is determined by the highest quads then if the quads are on the board, by the rank of the fifth card.
Full House
Three cards of one rank and two of another
33377
Rank is determined by the highest triplet, then if two players have the same triplet, by the rank of the pair.
Flush
Five cards of the same suit, not in sequence.
AJ942
Rank is determined by the highest card, then, if the highest card is on the board, by the second highest card, then the third highest card or fourth highest or fifth highest card.
Straight
Five cards in sequence not all of the same suit
JT987
Rank is determined by the highest card.
Three of a kind
Three cards of the same rank, the other two are any other cards that don't form a pair
KKKQ8
Rank is determined by the triplet. If two players have the same triplet, then by the rank of the other odd card.
Two pair
Two cards of one rank, two cards of another rank and an unmatched card
KK99A
Rank is determined by the highest pair. If two players have the same highest pair, then by the rank of the odd card.
One pair
Two card of the same rank and three unmatched cards
AAKQ4
Rank is determined by the pair, if two players have the same pair then by the rank of the highest odd card, then the second highest odd card, then the third
No pair
Five cards without any pair, not all of the same suit, not in sequence
AT942
Rank is determined by the rank of the highest card, then the second highest, then third highest

Continue: The Betting Rounds