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There are cases that a tie might arise in Poker. In many of those cases the ending point of the straight or the highest number in a pair wins. For example

  1. Straight to 9 beats straight to 8.
  2. Two pairs Aces over Queens beats two pairs Queens over Jacks, or two pairs Aces over Jacks.

But in some cases the hands are close to identical. For example

  1. Two pairs Aces over Queens in two people. Which wins here? The kicker or is it based on the suits?
  2. Two straights both ending at the same number. Who wins here? Closer to Straight Flush, the suit of the final number? or something else?
  3. Two people have a Royal Straight Flush. Who wins in this case? Is it based on the suit? At what position does each suit rank?
  4. Flush till Ace in two players. (let's say in Texas hold'em game) Who wins? The one with the highest card in his hands? For example if I have Ace, K, J, 10 and 9 in the same suit while the other player has Ace,J,10,8,7 I win or is it a tie? If we both had A,K,J,10 and I have a 9 and he has an 8?
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When I hear tie breaker in poker, I think of the rule where the player with the most chips at the start of a hand ranks higher in a tournament when two or more players are eliminated in the same hand of a tournament.

When in comes to the hands themselves, there is no such thing as a tie breaker. There are only two cases:

1) There is a tie -> split pot

2) There is no tie

So your real question might be, how to tell which hand is better between two hands which are close in value. The simplest way to do this is to always think of the best five card hand each player can make. That's the only rule you need to know, and it implies things like one pair hands have three kickers, while two pair hands and quads have one kicker.

The suit of the cards is irrelevant in all hands except flushes and straight flushes (including royal). Two flushes of different suits, but with the same card ranks, results in a tie, however that is very rare in all game variants and impossible in Hold'em since the board requires three cards of one suit for anyone to have a flush in that suit.


Obviously when comparing straights, we only need to compare the top card, since we know the rank of all five cards in the straight when we are told the rank of the top card, and I'm sure you're aware that we consider the top card in the straight (or straight flush) A2345 to be the 5, not the A.


I'll give some examples to make the five card comparison concept clearer:



For example, consider this situation where both players tie with junk:

Player 1: 6♥ 2♣

Player 2: 4♦ 3♦

Board: A♠K♠ 9♥T♣7♥

You have to be careful how you interpret Radu's answer here. If you were to walk through all the cards in order you might mistakenly think that Player 1 would win, but that is wrong. You only walk through the players' best 5 card hands. In this case, both players' best 5 card hand is the board, so they tie.


Here is a similar situation, which results in a tie:

Player 1: Q♠ J♠

Player 2: Q♦ 3♦

Board: A♠K♠ 7♦7♣9♥

If you use the best five card rule, it is easy to see that this is a tie as well. Both players have a pair of 7's with AKQ kickers, that's all five cards, so the J doesn't change anything. A one pair hand always has three kickers, unless you're playing a variant where it is possible to have less than 5 cards, in which case a missing card is worse than a kicker of 2. IE (3♥3♣2♠ will beat 3♦3♠X).


The rank of the cards comes into play with all hands, the rank which there are the most of is always compared first (rank the set before the pair in a full house, rank the pair before the three kickers in a one pair hand, and rank the quads before the kicker in a Four of a kind hand) and then the highest rank cards are compared first for ties in quantity (for two pairs: the top pair is compared first, for kickers: the highest kicker counts first).


Since we always consider the rank of all cards, flushes get compared card by card, just like the high card rule, so in this case:

Player 1: 6♣ 5♣

Player 2: A♦ 4♣

Player 3: K♣ 2♥

Board: A♣ J♣ T♣ 9♣ 7♣

Every player has an ace high flush, but Player 3 wins, because the second highest card in his flush is a K, which is better than the J in the other players' flushes. Now suppose that Player 3 was all in, so there is a side pot that only Players 1 and 2 are eligible for. They tie, since they both have the same flush, which is on the board. Their best five card hands don't use either of their hole cards.



It is much easier to think about comparing the best five card hands, then to try to memorize when to apply kickers and when not to.



Now I'll address the examples from your question:


  1. Two pairs Aces over Queens in two people. Which wins here? The kicker or is it based on the suits?

Suits don't matter, two pairs leaves room for one kicker in the best five card hand, so in the following situation we have a tie:

Player 1: A♥ 9♣

Player 2: A♠ T♦

Board: A♣ Q♥ Q♠ K♠ 9♦

Both players have AAQQK, however if that K on the board was an 8 or lower, then Player 2 would win, since he would have AAQQT, against AAQQ9. The pair of 9's is meaningless since it doesn't fit into the best five card hand.

  1. Two straights both ending at the same number. Who wins here? Closer to Straight Flush, the suit of the final number? or something else?

This is a tie, for two straights to have the same final number, all five cards must have the same rank.

  1. Two people have a Royal Straight Flush. Who wins in this case? Is it based on the suit? At what position does each suit rank?

This is also a tie, for the same reason as the straights.

  1. Flush till Ace in two players. (let's say in Texas hold'em game) Who wins? The one with the highest card in his hands? For example if I have Ace, K, J, 10 and 9 in the same suit while the other player has Ace,J,10,8,7 I win or is it a tie? If we both had A,K,J,10 and I have a 9 and he has an 8?

You win in both these cases, since the K beats the J, and the 9 beats the 8, but this rule only applies for your best five cards, even if you have more cards of that suit (see above).

  • Actually, suits do sometimes play a role in tie-breaking when coloring up chip denominations during a tournament. Many people aren't at the table because this usually happens during a break and might not even know about this. – user1934 Aug 18 '16 at 3:54
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1). In this case, the kicker determines the winner. If the kicker is also the same, then the 2 players will split the pot.

2). In this case, it will be a split pot because, in poker, no suit is "better" or higher-ranked than another.

3). I think you mean a Royal Flush, which is, by definition, unbeatable. This is also a split pot. Like I said above: no suit is better than another.

4). This is the situation of two "High Card" hands, which is the worst you can have (basically you have nothing). In this case, the cards basically all become kickers. You start comparing them and, when you find a higher one for a player, that player wins.

More specifically:

You: A, K, J, 10, 9

Opponent: A, K, 10, 8, 7

Compare first cards: Ace vs. Ace. They're the same, move on.

Compare second cards: King vs. King. They're the same, move on.

Compare third cards: Jack vs Ten. Jack is higher, so you win.

  • Oh come on, I don't deserve any reputation for this. It's like giving Schumacher points for learning how to drive... it just doesn't make sense. – Radu Murzea Dec 3 '14 at 22:07

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