5

Many sources (including here, here, here, and here) explicitly list Royal Flush as the highest poker hand. This seems unnecessary - it's the highest hand anyway as the highest Straight Flush. When designing a ruleset, unnecessary is harmful (e.g. it gives new players more to remember). So is there a good historical or game-mechanics reason why we treat the Royal Flush as a special case?

  • Note: You can also find this question on Board & Card Games SE, where I posted it before learning about Poker SE. – Benjamin Cosman May 10 '16 at 0:01
  • It causes harm? Can you put a dollar value on the damages? – paparazzo May 10 '16 at 5:21
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    No, but I posted this question because I found someone who thought that Four of a Kind came between Royal Flush and Straight Flush in Texas Holdem. It would have been impossible for this confusion to arise if Royal Flush didn't get a separate category. – Benjamin Cosman May 10 '16 at 5:36
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    FWIW, this always bothered the pedant in me, too. I think one benefit of the distinction is that it's slightly easier than saying "ace-high straight flush" and it succinctly indicates that you're talking about the best possible hand in the game. – Chris Farmer May 10 '16 at 12:33
  • This might be more of a language question than a poker question. I recommend you ask at english.stackexchange.com. They are good help with etymology questions there. – Chris Farmer May 10 '16 at 12:43
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I don't believe it has any historical background other than this is how the rules go.

A royal flush is the highest hand possible and is given a unique name as something to achieve.

I got a royal flush sounds a lot cooler than, I got an ace-high straight flush. It feels more prestigious.

I also don't find it confusing, and if it is, it's a quick explanation to set the person on track.

0

It clears up that the ace is the top end of a straight

2 though 10 is clear to anyone that can count

It clears up the top end is
A♠K♠Q♠J♠T♠

Yes it is obvious if you play poker but if you don't know the game at all it clears up some important stuff

Also the math is a little different as a royal flush is actually easier to hit than others. The ace is block on a king high (it becomes a royal). Where there are not over blockers on ace high.

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    I don't believe this answer. After all, no one has to clear up that the 8 is the high card in 4-5-6-7-8. Indeed, if the distinction actually existed for pedagogical reasons, then what would certainly exist instead would be the following list: "... > flush > straight > Wheel > 3-of-a-kind > ..." because that's the hand where the high card (Ace) is not the high card of the straight. I'm expecting an interesting historical rationale for Royal Flush, but I'll eat my hat if anyone can convince me it's a pedagogical advantage instead of a disadvantage. – Benjamin Cosman May 10 '16 at 6:10
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    @Paparazzi In that case, any straight flush that includes an ace should have a unique name. Seeing as how a five high straight flush (5-4-3-2-A) does not have a unique name, I think the rationale behind this answer is inconsistent. – Rainbolt May 10 '16 at 16:14
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    @Rainbolt Actually a five high straight flush does have a unique name: "Steel Wheel". But the fact that it isn't very well know compared to a Royal Flush does seem to play into the answer somehow. – user1934 May 10 '16 at 16:21
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    "Wheel" is a popular term for the hand, but I don't think it is called out in the official rules by that name (unlike Royal Flush, which is called out in the rules). It matters because if you have established neither a consistent nor authoritative reason for why the hand has a unique name in the rules, then you haven't answered the question. Even an inconsistent reason, coming from an authoritative source, would suffice to answer the question. – Rainbolt May 10 '16 at 16:21
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    Sorry, it was rude of me to ask twice for an authoritative source. I thought at first that you misunderstood my comment, but I understand now that you don't think answering my question is necessary to form a good answer (and that's totally fine). My apologies for harassing you. – Rainbolt May 10 '16 at 17:00

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