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I like to play some friendly poker online sometimes and i often see the situation where a pair is on the table and people try to win with only a kicker.
I know a kicker is valid when applied to only 1 pair, but in what other situations is a kicker considered valid and in what situations will it be a split pot?

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    Seems like this is asked at least once a week, and has been answered here 100 times: POKER HANDS HAVE FIVE CARDS, no more, no less. EXACTLY FIVE CARDS count toward the value of a hand. If the two hands in question are one pair, then three kickers are compared, in order, from high to low. Two-pair hands have one kicker, as do four-of-a-kind hands. Trips has two kickers. Straights, flushes, and full houses have no kickers. In Texas Hold'em, those five cards are whichever set of five cards out of the seven available make the best five-card hand. If those hands are tied at five cards, you split. – Lee Daniel Crocker Mar 30 '16 at 17:21
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The "kicker" is just a fancy way of saying that all the cards in a 5 card hand play, and somewhere in that sequence one of our cards which isn't part of the main rank is higher than another hand of the same rank. Only the best 5 card hand that can be made out of all the card available are used, the rest are ignored (so in Texas Hold Em, for instance, although each player winds up with a total of 7 cards in their hand, two of them are ignored as if they weren't there.) Both hands have to be identical (ignoring suits except when used to make a better flush) to split the pot. Of course if both hands being compared don't have the same rank (e.g. flush versus straight) then the hand with the best rank wins. But when they are of the same rank the general procedure is to start with the best part of the hand and compare moving down until a difference is found.

  • When both hands just have a high card, you count down as many cards as necessary to break ties. For instance, if we both have ace high, then if my second highest card is a king and your second highest is a queen, the king kicker wins. But if both of our second highest cards were the same, then we would go to the third highest, and if those were the same we would go to the fourth highest, and if those were the same we would go to the lowest card. Only if those were the same would it be a split pot.
  • The same with a pair, if we both have the same pair then we look at the highest remaining card, and if the same then we go to the next highest remaining card, and if that is the same we go to the lowest card. So for example, K K 8 7 4 vs. K K 8 7 2, the hand with the 4 kicker would win.
  • With two pair, if both players have the same highest pair, then the low pair is compared. If that is the same, then the last remaining card is used as the kicker.
  • With three of a kind it's only possible to have a split if there are community cards in play (e.g. Hold Em). In this case if both players share the same three of a kind the highest remaining card is compared, and if they tie the lowest card is compared.

  • With a straight kickers don't really come into play because all the cards are sequential. Thus you either have the higher straight, tie, or have the lower straight.

  • With a flush it's the same as high card for determining the better hand: starting at the highest card and working your way down you compare each hand until one card is higher than the other or you run out of cards.

  • With a full house you first compare the three of a kind in the full house, and then the pair. There isn't really a kicker in this case because all cards are part of the hand rank.

  • I'm not sure if there are any variations of poker in which both players can have four of a kind and split the pot, even with community cards. But if there is (wild cards is the only thing that comes to mind), there is only one kicker in this case which is the remaining card not part of the four of a kind.

  • The same caveat that applies to a straight applies to a straight flush or royal flush.

  • In Hold-em, why shouldn't it be possible for two players to split a pot with four-of-a kind? As the simplest example, if board has A-A-A-A-K, anyone who's in is going to split the pot no matter what cards they hold. If the board was A-A-A-A-Q, then any players with at least one king will split the pot among themselves, and if nobody has any kings then all players would split it. – supercat Oct 9 '16 at 21:12
  • @supercat ah yes you are right... – user1934 Oct 10 '16 at 3:55

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