Texas Hold’em Poker Hands

The game of poker is played as a series of betting rounds that culminate with the best hand, or the last remaining hand, winning the pot. To understand what constitutes the best poker hand, one must understand the poker hands ranking system. In most versions of poker, the highest ranking hand wins. The exceptions to the rule are versions of poker which are structured specifically to allow the lowest ranking hand to win the pot or at least part of it.
Poker games vary in the number of cards dealt with each player, and in the number of shared “community” cards. However, when it comes to poker hands ranking, the different versions of the game agree with the determination which is the strongest combination of cards. Players from their best possible poker hand by using some (or all) of their “pocket” cards, and some (or all) of the “community” cards. These rankings are good for Texas Hold’em and for Omaha Poker as well.
The starting hands in poker – the two hole cards seen only by each player – have earned popular poker hand nicknames. Check our colorful infographic below to see a full list of poker hands slang terms.
Abbreviations used in the examples below: Ace (A); King (K); Queen (Q); Jack (J); Spades (s); Hearts (h); Clubs (c); Diamonds (d). The hands are listed in rank from highest to lowest.
Cards Royal Flush Royal Flush: The highest possible poker hand is a Straight Flush from 10 up to the ace. Example of a Royal Flush: 10s, Js, Qs, Ks, As
Cards Straight Flush Straight Flush: A Straight Flush is five cards in sequence all being of the same suit. In the case of two players holding a Straight Flush hand, the one with a higher top card would be ranked higher. Example: 7d, 8d, 9d, 10d, Jd. An ace can also be counted as a low card in a 5-4-3-2-A sequence, in which the five is considered the high card. This is the lowest possible Straight Flush.
Four of Kind Four of a Kind: Four cards of the same rank, with suit being irrelevant. Example: Jc, Jd, Jh, Js. If two players have Four of a Kind, also known as “quads”, the higher one wins. If two players have the same Four of a Kind, the winner is determined by the “kicker”, or 5th card in the hand. The higher “kicker” would determine the winner in that situation.
Full house Full House: Three cards of one rank together with two cards of another rank. When more than one full house is present in a hand, the one with the highest ranking group of three wins. A Full House is also known as a “boat.” Example: Qh, Qs, Kd, Kc, Kh. This hand in this example is said to be “kings over queens” or “kings full of queens”.
Flush : Five cards of the same suit, but not consecutive. When more than one Flush is involved in a hand, the one with the highest card wins. Example: As, 5s, 7s, 9s, Js. The Flush in this example is “ace high” and it would beat a flush with the king of spades as its highest card. If both Flushes have the same highest card, then the second highest card is compared. If necessary, the third highest is compared, or the fourth-highest.
Cards Straight-Straight: Five cards in sequence, but not of the same suit. When more than one Straight is involved in a hand, the one with the highest card wins. Example: 8, 9, 10, J, Q; the suit is irrelevant. An ace can be taken as either high or low (but not both high and low in the same hand). The lowest possible Straight is 5, 4, 3, 2, A, which is also known as the “wheel”.
Three of Kind Three of a Kind: Three cards of the same rank, with two other unequal cards. Also known as “triplets” or “trips”. Example: Kh, Kd, Kc. In the event of two hands with Three of a Kind, the higher Three of a Kind wins. If both hands have the same Three of a Kind, the hand with the highest side card, or if necessary, the second-highest side card wins.
Pairs Two Pair: Any two cards of a matching rank together with two cards of another matching rank. If two hands have Two Pairs each, the hand with the highest pair wins. When more than one hand has two pairs of the same rank, the hand with the highest card outside the paired cards (the “kicker”) wins. Example: Jc, Jh, Qs, Qd
One pair One Pair: Two cards of the same rank. In case two hands have One Pair, the highest pair wins. When more than one hand has a pair of the same rank, the hand with the highest card outside the pair wins. Example: 10c, 10s
Highest High Card: When players have none of the above combinations, the hand with the highest card wins. The highest High Card is an ace. If two hands have the same High Card, the hand with the highest side card wins. If necessary, the third card in each is compared, and so on. Example: 4h, 6c, 8s, 10d, Qh. In this example, the High Card is the queen.
The above table represents examples of standard poker hands ranking. If you’re playing a home game and throw in a wild card or two, you’ll have to come up with another poker hands ranking table. Does five of a kind beat a royal flush when you play with wild cards? The possibilities are endless. Let’s stick to standard poker play for now.
Poker Hands Nicknames
Many starting hands in poker have earned for themselves nicknames, however, no one sitting at the table is ever going to declare, “I just got pocket rockets” when the cards are dealt. The various card combinations have forged for themselves popular poker nicknames that have become part of the lingo of the game, even if the nicknames are only said out loud by commentators and spectators after a hand has finished. Take a look at poker infographic and our list of poker hands slang terms and let us know if we missed your favorites.

Poker Hands Slang TermsStarting Poker Hands Slang Terms
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AA = Pocket Rockets/Bullets = Pocket rockets are the best possible Texas Hold’em Poker starting hand. The origin of the name comes from the fact that the aces look like rockets.
AK = Big Slick = The hole cards ace and king are called Big Slick, as it is a slippery hand on which one could lose a fortune. Also known as Anna Kournikova = looks good but never wins.
AT = A Team = Sometimes called “Johnny Moss” as the 1970s professional poker player reportedly began playing the game at the age of ten.
KK = Cowboys = The origin of this nickname is not clear, but could be because cowboys played poker. Also called “ace magnets” because they frequently attract aces.
KQ = Marriage = Nicknames are usually romantic in nature, including “Royal Couple”, “Valentine’s Day” (if both cards are hearts), and the Spanish rulers “Ferdinand and Isabella”.
K9 = Canine = These cards sound like “canine”, leading to many other dog-related nicknames, including Fido, Mongrel, Mutt, Pedigree, and Rin Tin Tin.
QQ = Ladies / Dames = Queens are the only female cards in the deck. Queens tend to have derogatory names, like “Bitches”, especially when they lose.
JJ = Hooks = A pair of jacks are called “fishhooks” because they look like them and because fish players often lose out to overpairs.
J9 = T.J Cloutier = Named for professional poker player T.J. Cloutier who flopped three straight flushes with these cards in one year.
J4 = Flat Tire = Why flat tire? What’s a jack for?
TT = Dimes = Dimes are the U.S. coin worth ten cents. This pocket card combination is sometimes known as “Dynamite” due to the fact that it sounds like the explosive TNT.
T2 = Doyle Brunson = Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson won back-to-back WSOP Main Events in 1976 and 1977 using turning these hole cards into full houses.
88 = Snowmen = The shape of the number eight led to its look-alike nicknames, including “Snowmen”, “Pretzels”, “Racetracks” and even “Two Fat Ladies”.
77 = Hocket Sticks = The many nicknames of 77 are due to the fact that the two cards look like hockey sticks, axes, scythes, and even candy canes.
44 = Sailboats = Also known as “Magnum”, like the .44 caliber gun. This card combination has many Star Wars nicknames, due to the phrase, “May the fours be with you”.
22 = Ducks / Deuces = Ducks is apparently from the French word for two, Deux. Also, 2 looks like a duck. Another duck-related nickname: “Quack Quack”.

Did we miss your favorite starting hand card combination or nickname? Which did poker hands slang terms we forget? Comment and let us know