OKBET Poker Guide What is the Best Possible Hand in Poker

A guide to the royal straight flush, the best poker hand possible. Learn the odds of a royal straight flush flopping and how to play against one.

What Is The Best Poker Hand Possible?

Making the best hand – or convincing your opponent that you have one – is the goal of poker. But what is the best possible poker hand, and how likely are you to get it?

Poker is a group of card games in which players compete to see who has the best hand. A poker hand is a five-card combination that falls into one of nine categories:

  • a high card
  • pair,
  • a pair of
  • three in a row,
  • straight,
  • flush,
  • a full house
  • and four-of-a-kind
  • flushed straight

The hand rankings are determined by how difficult each hand category is to complete. The more difficult a hand is to make, the more valuable it is. Hands are ranked within each hand category based on the value of the cards involved; for example, an Ace-high flush beats a Ten-high flush, and a King-high flush beats a Six-high flush.

Which Poker Hand Is the Best?

The Royal Flush is the best hand in most forms of poker. It consists of five “broadway” cards of the same suit.

“Broadway” refers to the five highest-ranking cards in poker: the Ten, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace.

The Royal Flush is also the best straight flush possible. It’s both a straight and a flush (the five cards are sequential) (the cards are all the same suit).

Straight flushes are the most difficult hand to make in poker, so they have the most value. The Royal Flush is the best of the best because it involves the highest value cards.

It is not actually more difficult to achieve than other straight flushes; in fact, it is slightly easier in Texas Hold’em! We’ll go over why later.

The Royal Flush poker hand is typically listed separately in hand ranking charts, whereas the Ace-high straight and Ace-high flush are not. There’s no real reason for this other than the Royal Flush is the best hand you can make and thus deserves its own entry!

The Royal Flush is so named because it involves all of the “royal cards” – the King, Queen, and Jack. The name is a little misleading because it’s a straight flush rather than just a flush. Second, with the “royal” cards, you can make a lower straight flush – the King-high straight flush. But that’s what it’s been called since the 1800s, and it sounds appropriate for the best poker hand!

The Royal Flush is not the best hand in poker games that use wildcards (because five of a kind is possible) and lowball games (where you want to get the lowest possible hand).

In Texas Hold’Em Poker, a royal flush is the best possible hand.

Probability of a Royal Flush

The likelihood of obtaining a Royal Flush is determined by the type of poker being played. Because Texas Hold’em is by far the most popular, we will focus on it. In the following section, we will look at Video Poker, which is similar to Five-card Draw poker.

Making the best five-card hand you can out of the two cards in your hand and the five cards on the table is the goal of Texas Hold’em. That’s seven cards in total, making it a variation on seven-card poker. You’re making a five-card hand out of a deck of seven.

Odds of a Royal Flush: Flop

There are 2,598,960 different combinations you can make with five cards (the order is irrelevant, but the suit and value are).

After the flop, the situation is as follows. There are four ways to make a Royal Flush out of five cards (one for each suit), giving you a chance of landing a Royal Flush of 4 in 2,598,960 (or 1 in 649,740).

This is the probability before any cards are dealt – obviously, if you don’t have two suited Broadway cards when the flop is dealt, you have no chance!

And if you have two suited broadways, your chances of getting a Straight Flush are much higher – 1 in 19,600 (the same as the number of distinct flops in Texas Hold’Em, because there is only one possible “Royal Flush flop” that will turn your specific hole cards into a Royal!)

Odds of a Royal Flush: River

Of course, the flop isn’t the end of the game; there are two more cards to come. This makes a huge difference in terms of probability. There are only four ways to get a Royal Flush from five cards, but there are 4,324 ways to get it from seven (5 community cards, and your 2 hole cards).

This is due to the fact that there are numerous combinations of the two cards that you do not end up using in your best five-card hand. In fact, multiply 1,081 by 4 (one for each possible Royal Flush suit) to get 4,324.

There are 133,784,560 distinct seven-card combinations. 4,324 out of 133,784,560 equals 1 in 30,940. Those two extra cards make a significant difference!

1-in-x = (x-1)-to-1 is the formula for converting probability to odds. A 1 in 6 chance, for example, is equivalent to 5-to-1 odds.

So the odds of making a Royal Flush by the river are 30,939-to-1 (before any cards are dealt). These odds may appear to be a little low. After all, it’s not difficult to go 31,000 hands without seeing a Royal Flush.

But first, keep in mind that most hands do not make it to the river! Many hands where everyone folds before the flop could have resulted in a Royal.

Furthermore, probability does not work in this manner. Because the probability is 1-in-X, you are not guaranteed to see something after X number of times. For example, even though there is a 1 in 2 chance of flipping heads, flipping a coin twice does not guarantee that you will see heads at least once. In fact, the likelihood is only 75%.

Why are other straight flushes more difficult to achieve in Texas Hold’em?

The Royal Flush is actually slightly simpler to perform than other types of straight flushes. This may appear absurd, but it is true.

There are 4,140 ways to make any specific straight flush (say, the King-high straight flush, 9TJQK) out of seven cards, compared to 4,324 ways to make a Royal.

The reason for this is that with a Royal Flush, it doesn’t matter what the other two cards are; however, with a King-high straight flush, an Ace of the same suit as one of the other two cards is not permitted. If you did, it would instead be a Royal Flush.

So there are slightly fewer ways to make a King-high straight flush from seven cards than there are to make a Royal Flush. The same goes for any other straight flush.

Poker Tournament Royal Flush

This hand occurred on the fourth day of the 2016 Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure tournament, and it involved Paul Tedeschi, Fabian Rabah, and Phillip McAllister.

The video does not show the players’ hole cards, but here they are:

  • Tedeschi (Center Position) – QQ
  • KT McAllister (Button)
  • KT Rabah (Big Blind)

Tedeschi opens from the middle position with pocket Queens, and Rabah and McAllister both call.

Q84, here comes the flop. Tedeschi is getting a great set. He decides to look behind Rabah. McAllister wagers, and the other two players both call.

The Jack of Hearts is revealed on the turn. The board is now marked Q84J.

Rabah and Tedeshi check again, and McAllister bets. Rabah raises, but Tedeshi, the short stack, decides to go all-in. His opponents both call.

The Ace of Hearts is brought by the river. The board’s new code is Q84JA.

McAllister has the Royal Flush while Rabah has a straight! Rabah bets, and McAllister shoves – and who can blame him?

Rabah struggles for a while before finding the fold. Tedeschi is knocked out after McAllister shows his cards.

Defending Against a Royal Flush

The Royal Flush is the best poker hand. So the only way to deal with it is to not pay off your opponent! If you know your opponent has a Royal, you must check or fold.

That’s the easy part; the difficult part is determining whether your opponent has a Royal Flush in the first place.

First and foremost, the board requires three or four cards in order to construct a Royal. However, this means that they could have a lot of other straights and flushes. (In the long run, these are the real threats.)

You should be concerned with whether your hand can beat the straights and flushes that the board allows. If the board is paired, quads or a full house are also possible.

Consider your opponents’ actions up to the river and try to narrow the range of possible hands. Most people will play a Royal Flush slowly, but if they’ve been calling each street, they must have something good, especially on such a scary board!

When there are four cards to a Royal on the board, you should be most concerned because your opponent only needs one specific card to hit it. However, four cards to a Royal doesn’t happen very often!

Most of the time, encountering a Royal Flush in Texas Hold’em is so rare that you should not be concerned. Coolers are part of the game of poker, and losing to a Royal with the nut flush or better is the ultimate cooler. Royal Flushes don’t require a specific strategy because you might only see them once or twice in your life.

If the board has three or four cards to a Royal and your opponent checks to you, think twice before betting and reopening the action. Always ask yourself, “What worse hands can they call a bet with than mine?”

Checking behind is the ultimate antidote to the Royal Flush, but you’ll miss out on value most of the time when they don’t have it.

Royal Flush Probability in Video Poker

Video poker is essentially 5-card draw poker. You are dealt five cards and have one opportunity to swap any or all of them. Instead of competing with other players, the machine pays out based on how difficult it is to make your hand.

The likelihood of being dealt a Royal Flush in Video Poker is fairly simple to calculate. In Texas Hold’em, it’s the same as flopping a Royal Flush. You can make 2,598,960 different five-card hands. This means that the odds of making any particular hand are 1 in 2,598,960. For each suit, there are four different Royal Flush hands. So the odds of getting a Royal flush are 4 in 2,598,960 – or 1 in 649,740.

In terms of odds, the odds of getting a Royal Flush in Video Poker are 649,739-to-1 at most US online casinos.

Video Poker Odds of Getting a Royal Flush

If you want to allow for drawing, things get a little more complicated. It all depends on how many cards you want to exchange for new ones.

If you swap out five cards, you’ll have 47 cards left in the deck and have eliminated 5 duds. This means you have a 383,483-to-1 chance of getting a Royal Flush after being dealt five cards.

If you replace four cards, your chances of getting a Royal Flush are 178,364-to-1.

  • The odds on three cards are 16,124-to-1.
  • The odds are 1,081-to-1 for two cards.
  • The odds of drawing one card are 46-to-1.

Some Video Poker machines pay out more for “Sequential Royals,” or Royal Flushes in which the cards appear in the correct order. The odds of hitting a Sequential Royal are thousands of times greater than the odds of hitting a regular Royal Flush – approximately 3.8 million to 1.

The Royal Flush is the best possible poker hand, but it is so uncommon that many players will never see one. It’s best not to be too concerned about running into one!

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