What are the Probabilities of the Best Poker Hands?

If you’ve ever watched a movie in which people play texas holdem poker, it seems like the best hands — full houses, royal flushes, and four of a kind — just seem to pop up all over the place. The truth is that they are extremely rare — so let’s take a look at some of the real odds for some of the best poker hands.

A Loot at the Best Poker Hands and their Probabilities

Before we look at some of the really rare poker hands, let’s start out with a basic pair. The probability involves a poker hand that has this pattern: AABCD, where you have two cards of the same rank, and three other cards that don’t match the first two or each other. You’ve actually got a fairly good probability of getting a pair: 42.3%.

After that, though, things go downhill quickly. Getting a second pair (AABBC) in your hand. The odds of that drop to 4.8%.

How about three of a kind? This pattern (AAABC) might seem like you would get more of them at first, because you just have to get one more “A” card instead of finding a match for “B” or “C.” However, the probability of that third card showing up is actually lower: 2.11%.

Then there’s the full house: combining AAA with BB. If you played 100 hands, you might not even get one full house, because the probability is 0.14%.

You’re more likely to land a straight (five cards in order, either from the same or different suits) or a flush (all from the same suit) than you are to land a full house, in fact. But the odds aren’t that much greater. Your probability of a straight is 0.39%, and the probability of a flush is 0.19%.

How about a straight flush? All in a row, all from the same suit. The odds of that are 0.0014%.

You’ve got better odds of drawing four of a kind than you do of landing a straight flush, in fact. But the odds aren’t much better, sitting at 0.024%. Then there’s the rarest hand of all, the royal flush. That’s the cards 10, J, Q, K and A, all from the same suit. Your odds of landing that humdinger are 0.000154%.

So what Does this Mean for Poker players?

Since you’re not even going to get a pair half the time, the key involves waiting around, doing some folding now and then, while holding firm for one of those hands to show up. The best poker players know that luck is a factor, but for those who really succeed at it, skills and strategy are much more important. This involves knowing when you can bluff the rest of the table into walking away even though you don’t even have a pair of 5’s in your hand, and knowing when you can push hard with what you have. It also involves learning your opponents so that you have an idea when they are trying to pull a bluff even more audacious than yours, or when they are simply too scared to do anything, so even if they do have a fairly good hand, you can scare them away from the pot.

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