We were playing Texas hold'em, but didnt clearly define which variations are acceptable in our game.

Board: K♠ 7♠ 4♠ 3♠ 4⋄

Player 1 : 2♠ J⋄

Player 2 : Q♠ 2⋄

Player 2 plays by the rule that if they both share the high card, the 2nd,3rd etc. is used to determine the winner, thus player2 wins

Player 1 plays by the rule that only a single high card is used to determine the winner and seeing that K♠ is shared (regardless of Q♠ being 2nd highest) - the pot is split

Is Player 1's rule an acceptable variation? Is there a name for it?


6 Answers 6


There isn't a special ranking rule for flushes. The winning hand is always the best five cards out of the seven available. The two hole cards plus the five community cards.

My guess is that player 1 just didn't want to lose. So he made up this rule to get what he wants. Again, this is just an educated guess.

I've been playing poker for years and I've never heard of such a rule. There are no variations of Texas Hold'em that would allow this, as far as I know. Of course, in a home game, everyone is free to make up their own rules, in which case all players should be aware of them and follow them.

In this case player 2 wins the hand, since he holds the Q♠ producing the better and therefore winning hand.

K♠ Q♠ 7♠ 4♠ 3♠ beats K♠ 7♠ 4♠ 3♠ 2♠

  • It sounds to me like Player 1 is either ignorant of the rules or he was trying to finesse his way into a share of the pot. To make his viewpoint seem even sillier, consider if the A of spades was on the board in place of the king. If playing by Player 1's rules, it means anyone with any spade in their hand after the turn would equally share the pot (except if someone held the 5 and 6 of spades, which would make a straight flush). This post in another stackexchange site has good info on resolving high hand questions: boardgames.stackexchange.com/a/9773 Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 16:20
  • While I agree with the answer generally I'd like to point out that that misconception is not uncommon and I've met several people which thinks flush works like that, with only the higher card being important to the flush. So it's may not be a cause of malice but of genuine lack of knowledge Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 13:04

Player 2 wins. everything else is simply wrong


I've heard of players claiming to have a split pot in situations like this because "we both have an ace high flush" or whatever, but these are the same kinds of clueless players who think they have a straight in Omaha, holding AAKJ on a 234-5-9 board, or who snap call on the river, proclaiming "I've got the nut flush," with A♦J♦7♦4♦ on K♠T♠9♦ - 5♠ - 3♠. (In both of those hands, the other player actually did have what they were claiming to have. 😉)

  • 1
    Yep, it's very easy to get confused about this in Omaha, especially if you play it rarely. Commented May 19, 2016 at 7:31

I remember hearing about a variation where only the kickers determine the best hand, if two players have the same type of have. Normal hand ranking rules still apply (flush still beats a straight, etc.), but if both players have, say, two pair, only the kicker determines the winner.
For example, AAKK7 loses to 9977Q, because the queen kicker beats the 7 kicker. You still use your best five cards, and you still compare all the kickers. Another example, 55943 beats JJ942.
If I remember correctly straight vs straight is always a split, straight flush vs straight flush is a split (but still loses to a royal), and flush vs flush is determined by using the second card and down, so with, for example, J♠5♠4♠ on the board, A♠2♠ would lose to K♠9♠, but they would both lose to Q♠T♠. The same would apply to high card hands; you just ignore the highest card, and start with the second.
I'm sorry, I have no idea what this variant is called, but I imagine it would have the word kicker in its name.


In many poker variations (5-card draw, seven-card stud, etc.), players' hands are disjoint, so any card which is present in one player's hand will be absent in everyone else's. In such games, there would no need to consider kickers as a tie-breaker for hands showing three-of-a-kind or four-of-a-kind, so there would be no need for the rules of those variations to mention them.

The need to use the kicker as a tie-breaker between hands showing two-pair, or to use anything past the top card as a tie-breaker for two flushes, would be much less common in disjoint-hand games than in community-card games. It's plausible that poker was widely played without those tie-breakers in days before community-card games became popular; provided all players agree what rules are being used, the game with those tie breakers would be essentially the same as the game without.

The notion that only the top card is used as a tie-breaker with flushes may be reasonable in disjoint-hand games (if all players agree to it), but is would adversely change games with community cards. Further, it's probably more practical to use the same hand rankings in all games than to use different rules for the different poker variations.


Player's one rule will work 99% of the time if you only look at the players hands and not the common cards. Player two's variation will work in all cases. The 1% error occurs when the board has a flush and no player card improves the board. In that case comparing the highest card in hand does not determine the winner as all players are playing the board.

  • 3
    Your response doesn't even really address the question, since the OP doesn't ask whether the "rule" will work to help identify the best hand. He asks if it's an "acceptable variation" to split the pot based solely on the highest card in the flush. It seems to me that the OP is familiar with how to determine the best hand. And if a "rule" doesn't work in all cases, then it's not a good rule, especially as in this case where the correct rule to apply is simple and unambiguous. Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 19:05

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