If you’re a beginner to understanding poker, you might just be getting used to different poker variants, rules, and betting structures. However, within each type of table poker game, you really can’t play well without knowing the hands. This is where poker cheat sheets come in.
Cheat sheets are mainly a way to remember the order of ranked poker hands, but can also include other useful things like the best starting hands in a certain type of game. On this page, we outline different ways you can benefit from understanding poker hands – and don’t worry, poker cheat sheets have nothing to do with cheating.
What is a Poker Cheat Sheet?
A poker cheat sheet usually lists the order of ranked hands in a table poker game variant. Often, it also includes a list of the best starting hands, as well as some significant points about the gameplay. It’s basically a summary of all the information you need to be a winner at the showdown.
You can only make winning poker hands if you know what the possible hands are, plus their order in the rankings. Therefore, poker hand ranking charts help you get a better understanding of the game and how to handle different table poker strategies. Of course, this should all come after learning the basic rules of poker.
Types of Table Poker to Play Online
If you’re playing online poker, you’ll normally play in one of two main forms: casino poker or player vs. player (PvP) poker.
- Casino poker – in casino poker, you’re playing against the house, in other words, against the casino. You can’t bluff against the online casino automated players, you’re just playing against the computer dealer. The best hand will win, as online casino poker can only end in a showdown, or if you fold. Casino poker is similar to table games like blackjack where the house has an edge.
- PvP poker – in PvP poker, you’re playing against other people, both online and in brick-and-mortar casinos. No one at the table has an inherent edge, and the casino is simply the game host. The casino takes a small cut of the money generated in the game, known as the ‘rake’, in exchange for hosting the PvP game.
These two categories contain different games, known as poker variants. Each one has its own nuances in terms of how you place bets and the number of cards you receive. However, table poker hand rankings are almost universal. Before we get into the details of our poker hands cheat sheet, here are some of the most popular variants within each category.
Casino Poker Variants
The most popular game variants of casino poker are:
- Three-Card Poker
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em
- Texas Hold’em Plus
- Caribbean Stud
- Let It Ride
- Four-Card Poker
- Pai Gow Poker
- Video Poker
Player vs. Player Poker Variants
The most popular game variants of PvP poker are:
- Texas Hold’em Poker
- Omaha Poker
- Stud Poker
- Draw Poker
- Mixed Poker Games
Poker Betting Structure Basics
The final basic thing to know about casino poker and its PvP counterpart is the various betting structures. In casino table games, you have a minimum and maximum bet. But in PvP poker, there are three blind structures:
- Limit – the amount you can bet or raise is limited to the size of the ante (a mandatory bet for every player at the start of the game to create a pot).
- Pot limit – the amount you can bet or raise is limited to the size of the pot.
- No limit – you can bet or raise as much as you like, up to the full value of your stack.
After this quick overview of poker and its various forms, find out more on our page about table poker rules. Now we can get into the best poker hands, the worst poker hands, and everything in between.
Poker Hand Rankings: Cheat Sheets for Beginners
Understanding the best and the worst ranked poker hands is an important step in mastering the game. By using poker cheat sheets, you can get a quick summary of the top-ranked hands so that you know what you’re dealing with in your hand, your opponent’s hand, or on the table.
Poker Hands Ranked – Five-Card Game Cheat Sheet
The most common type of poker hand is made up of five cards. Most often, you’re going to be playing Texas Hold’em, or another popular five-card variant. In the table below, you can see the most common poker hands ranking chart, going from best to worst.
A straight from 10 to Ace with all cards of a matching suit
10♦ J♦ Q♦ K♦ A♦
A straight with cards of a matching suit
5♥ 6♥ 7♥ 8♥ 9♥
Four of a Kind
Four cards of the same value
A♦ A♥ A♠ A♣ X
One pair and one set
K♦ K♥ 4♦ 4♠ 4♣
Any five cards of the same suit
5♣ 9♣ 10♣ K♣ J♣
Five cards in sequential order, but without matching suits
2♣ 3♦ 4♥ 5♥ 6♠
Set (or Three of a Kind)
Three cards of the same value
A♦ A♥ A♠ X X
A pair plus another different pair
A♠ A♥ 6♣ 6♠ X
Pair (or Two of a Kind)
Two cards of the same value
J♣ J♠ X X X
A hand with no other value than that of its highest card
K♣ J♠ 2♣ 8♥ 6♠
Lowball Poker Hand Rankings Cheat Sheet
In some games, the highest hand doesn’t always win the pot. Why? Because there is a category of PvP poker variants known as ‘lowball’ games. These games are:
- Ace-to-Five Lowball
- Deuce-to-Seven Lowball
In these games, the lowest-ranked hands win the pot. Flushes and straights don’t exist in some lowball games, but do in others. Additionally, aces are normally low in lowball poker games.
For example, in Deuce-to-Seven Lowball (2-7), the best hand is 7-5-4-3-2. From here, the next best hand is an ‘eight low’, which would be 8-5-4-3-2. It continues like this down the rankings.
Split-Pot Lowball Poker
Linked to lowball games are split-pot games. As the name suggests, these games split the pot between the best (highest) and the worst (lowest) poker hands.
The main split-pot variants are:
- Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo Eight or Better
- Crazy Pineapple Hi-Lo
- Low Chicago
- 5-Card Draw Hi-Lo
The aim of these games is to have either:
- The best-ranked hand (as per the traditional, five-card rankings).
- The best lowball hand (as described in the lowball poker section above).
Half the pot goes to the high hand and half to the low hand. If someone has a hand that wins the high and low portion of the pot, it’s known as ‘scooping’.
Short Deck Poker Hand Rankings Cheat Sheet
The popularity of PvP poker has led to the development of new variants. One of the most popular is Short Deck Hold’em. Also known as 6+ Hold’em, this is a stripped deck game, which means certain cards have been removed from the deck. In this instance, all cards of value 5 and lower have been removed.
This alters the poker hand rankings, with significant changes such as:
- Flushes become harder to make than full houses. In other words, these two rankings switch places in the order.
- You can play aces as high or low value cards.
- As there are no cards from 2 to 5, the lowest straight you can make is A-6-7-8-9.
In terms of poker hands ranked from highest to lowest, the Short Deck Hold’em ranking cheat sheet is:
|Short Deck Hold’em Hand||Hand Description||Example|
|Royal Flush||A straight from 10 to Ace all in the same suit||10♦ J♦ Q♦ K♦ A♦|
|Straight Flush||A straight with cards all in the same suit||6♥ 7♥ 8♥ 9♥ 10♥|
|Four of a Kind||Four cards of the same value||K♦ K♥ K♠ K♣ X|
|Flush||Any five cards of the same suit||6♣ 7♣ Q♣ J♣ K♣|
|Full house||One pair and one set||Q♦ Q♥ 7♦ 7♠ 7♣|
|Straight||Five cards in sequential order without the same suit (with the lowest straight being A-6-7-8-9)||2♣ 3♦ 4♥ 5♥ 6♠|
|Set (or Three of a Kind)||Three cards of the same value||8♦ 8♥ 8♠ X X|
|Two Pair||A pair plus another different pair||A♠ A♥ 6♣ 6♠ X|
|Pair (or Two of a Kind)||Two cards of the same value||J♣ J♠ X X X|
|High Card||A hand with no other value than that of its highest card||A♣ J♠ 2♣ 8♥ 6♠|
Three-Card Poker Hand Rankings Cheat Sheet
Three-card poker is a casino game where you have to beat the dealer in a three-card showdown. A standard hand plays out in the following way:
- You make an ante bet to receive three cards.
- You assess your cards and decide whether to play or fold.
- A) If you fold, you give up the hand and lose your ante bet. The round ends here.
- B) If you play, you continue to the showdown by making a second (play) bet equal to the value of your ante.
- If you play, the dealer reveals their hand. A dealer needs a high value of at least a queen in their hand (known as queen-high) to qualify for the showdown.
- A) If the dealer doesn’t have queen-high or better, you win the pot uncontested. You receive a payout on your ante bet and get your play bet back.
- B) If the dealer qualifies, your hands are compared, and the winner is determined by the three-card poker hand rankings. Beating the dealer in a showdown earns you payouts on your ante and play bets.
If we’re ranking hands from highest to lowest, the three-card poker hand ranking cheat sheet is:
|Three-Card Poker Hand||Hand Description||Example|
|Straight Flush||A straight with cards all in the same suit||8♥ 9♥ 10♥|
|Three of a Kind||Three cards of the same value||J♦ J♥ J♠
|Straight||Three cards in sequential order without the same suit||4♥ 5♥ 6♠|
|Flush||Any three cards of the same suit||6♣ J♣ K♣|
|Pair||Two cards of the same value||5♣ 5♠ X
|High Card||A hand with no other value than that of its highest card||A♣ 4♠ 8♥|
The Best Poker Starting Hands
The best starting hands in poker don’t always win a pot. This goes for table casino poker games and PvP games. However, to formulate a winning poker strategy, you still need to know the strongest starting hands. The stronger you start, the better your chances are of finishing ahead at the end.
With this in mind, our starting hands poker cheat sheet for beginners doesn’t offer too many specific hands, as starting requirements differ across variants. Instead, we’re going to look at the more general hand categories. From here, you can tailor your opening requirements based on the variant you’re playing.
The best table poker starting hands include:
- A pair of cards – it’s usually a good idea to play poker hands that contain high-value pairs, such as A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J, and 10-10. However, depending on the situation, it might be smart to play lower-ranked pairs, including middle pairs, like 9-9, 8-8, 7-7, and 6-6. Playing low pairs, like -5, 4-4, 3-3, and 2-2, can also work out in your favor, depending on the situation.
- High-value card(s) – it’s often worth playing if you have high-value cards in your starting hand. For example, if you’re playing Texas Hold’em, A-K is a strong starting hand. Similarly, if you’re playing Pot Limit Omaha, A-Q-10-J is a strong hand. Anything from Ace to 10 can be classed as a high-value card in the most popular variants.
- Connectors and suited connectors – it might be worth playing two cards that are close in value, as they have the potential to make straights. For example, if you’re dealt 5-6 in Texas Hold’em, these cards have the potential to make a straight. In contrast, a hand like 9-5 could also make a straight but it’s less likely because the cards aren’t as ‘connected’. Connected cards are even stronger if their suits match. This opens up the possibility of making flushes as well as straights, or straight flushes.
Poker Cheat Sheets for Starting Hands
Our general guide to the best starting hands in poker can apply to most situations and poker variants. However, there are specific nuances in every game you play. This section focuses on the most popular table poker variant – Texas Hold’em.
Texas Hold’em Starting Hands Cheat Sheet
Each player is dealt two cards that only they can see. Betting rounds lead to community cards being dealt. Everyone can use these cards to make the best five-card poker hand by using one, both, or none of their cards.
In ranked order, the best starting hands in Texas Hold’em are:
- Pairs from A-A to 10-10
- A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10
- K-Q, K-J
- 9-10, 8-9, 7-8, 7-6 (suited connectors)
Poker Pro Tip
You can make a case for folding strong hands before the community cards come out. You can also make a case for playing weak hands. Texas Hold’em, like all PvP poker variants, is situation-dependent. You’re playing against other people. Therefore, you can make moves based on your own cards and what you think other players might have.
This opens up the possibility of bluffing and making moves with hands that might normally be considered weak. You can only start making moves against specific players if you understand the basic hand rankings, which is why our poker cheat sheets for beginners are essential.
Poker Table Positions
It’s crucial to learn that PvP poker is as much about understanding the people and the game, as it is about using the cards you’re dealt. As part of this, poker beginners need to get to grips with table position.
You don’t know what other people’s cards are. But what you do know is the moves that other people have made throughout the rounds – fold, call, check, bet, or raise.
In table poker, if you’re placed in a ‘late position’ at the table, you’ll have more knowledge about the other players. Why? Because they’ve acted before you. This means you’ve got more to base your decision on.
How to Use Table Position to Win Poker
PvP poker tables typically have space for six or nine players. A dealer button moves around the table in a clockwise direction. This moves the blinds around the table evenly, forcing everyone to make bets at least once or twice per orbit, depending on the variant in play. Your position at the table is relative to the blinds and the button.
The image above shows a nine-handed poker table. Based on this table size, the poker table position categories are:
- Early poker positions – the seats immediately to the left of the blinds (under the gun, UTG+1, UTG+2).
- Middle poker positions – the seats in between early and late positions (UTG+3, UTG+4, hijack).
- Late poker positions – the last few seats before the button (cut-off and the button). As the button is the last to act, it is therefore the latest position.
A general poker rule is that you should only play the strongest hands in an early position. Then, as your position moves from middle to late, you can open up and play a wider range of poker hands.
Table Poker Cheat Sheet Checklist
We’ll bring our guide to poker hands to a conclusion by offering a final checklist of points to analyze when you’re playing. In our guide to understanding poker hands, you’ve now had a rundown of:
- Poker hand rankings
- What cards to play
- The positions in a standard game
- Some tips for the most popular variant, Texas Hold’em
Once you know the poker hand rankings and best starting hands in poker, think carefully about the context. With the checklist below, you can judge the potential strength of your hand and whether or not it’s worth making a bet:
- Have you considered the poker variant you’re playing and its specific rules or rankings? Do you know them well enough?
- Have you checked the number of players in a game to work out what position you’re in?
- Have you thought about your starting position in the hand and the action that occurred before or after you?
- Have you looked at your cards carefully? Recite them in your head so you know them by heart.
- Have you compared your cards to those in view? Either the community cards or your opponents’ visible cards.
- Have you made a hand? If so, how high is it on the poker rankings chart?
- What poker hands could your opponents have made? Would any of them beat yours in a showdown?
Make sure to go through this checklist and come up with answers based on the situation you’re facing. With this knowledge, you can make the best decision possible. Understanding the game and the people is the skill of poker – this is why you need to know your hands before you play.