It really irks me that a flush with: A, 2, 3, 4, 5 (etc.) would beat a flush with K, Q, J, 10, 9. Clearly the Q, J, and 10 are very strong cards, so why does the Ace high flush beat the better value King high club? Can someone explain the reasoning behind this? (I would decide the winning flush by averaging the value of the cards in each flush).

Slightly related, but I also hate when say an: A, A, A, 2, 2, full house beats a K, K, K (eek), A, A, full house - although in this scenario I get that the King full house fills itself with the pair of Aces and is possibly weaker for doing that.

  • If we both have a flush and the ace is on the table does the flush with the queen win against the 10 or do you then you go to the highest other card in your hand ?
    – Kate
    Apr 16, 2021 at 11:39

4 Answers 4


I mentioned this in a comment to another answer, but it seems important enough to make it a proper answer.

A hand like A, 2, 3, 4, 6 is an ace high flush. A hand like K, Q, J, 9, 8 is a king high flush. Make any card in either hand of a different suit and you lose the flush but you still have Ace high and King high. Ace high beats King high every time. The value of the remaining cards is irrelevant unless you have a tie. This is why A, A, A, 2, 2 beats K, K, K, x, x. Three of a kind is harder to get than a pair so that is why that part of a full house gets priority. The remaining pair is used only as a kicker if the three of a kind part is a tie.

It's quite possible to create a new game where you get rid of kickers and replace them with some kind of averaging, but that game wouldn't be poker any more. It would be a more complicated game requiring a lot more mental effort. You might say that anybody can add five numbers, but poker is already best as a fast paced game, where pros think in terms of number of hands per hour where larger is better due to the fact that more hands means return being closer to the long term average in terms of edge producing a profit. Having to add five numbers repeatedly in any calculation you do for pot odds, comparing your hand against what your opponent might have, etc. is going to really slow the game down.

  • And it goes on. Is 3, 3, K, Q, J supposed to be better then 3, 3, A, 4, 5? Should K, K, Q, Q, 5 beat A, A, 2, 2, 3? Should K, K, Q, Q, 4 tie A, A, J, J, 3. In a comment he would assign a max value of 10. He has not thought this through.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 19, 2017 at 16:33

But flush K, Q, J, 10, 9 does beat flush 5, 4, 3, 2, A
King high straight flush versus a five high straight flush
You want to make it more complex and you are getting the current rules wrong

The rules for equal rank hands were picked that way because it made sense to the inventor(s) of the game.

It may seem illogical to you but it is logical to me. Why make the game more complex and not add any value?

If you don't get the trips which are harder to make than the pair in a full house should take priority then can't help you.

If you want to invent a new game you are free to. I don't like your game. Game would play different. There would be more split pots. Ax would not be draw to the nut flush. Could not bluff a nut flush only holding the ace. Harder to figure out where you are in the hand and harder to determine the winner. Avg/sum brings zero to the game. If the rules are the same for everyone on order within a given rank then all is fair.

The hand ranks are based on statistics. Within a rank there is no statistics. A pair of twos is just as hard as a pair of aces. An arbitrary convention was picked. Making that arbitrary convention more complex adds nothing. There is one interesting exception in that an ace high straight is actually easier (from 7 cards) because there is no blocker above.

  • Ok my bad about the A,2,3,4,5 vs K,Q,J,10,9, I forgot those are straights I was just using them as polar opposite examples. I should've gone with K,Q,J,9,8 and A,2,3,4,6 or something. I also understand the reason for full houses now, as you said the trips is harder to get. I still think you're being close minded if you can't see how A,2,3,4,6 could be a better hand than K,Q,J,9,8. And the hands are NOT based on statistics, side the chances of getting a pair of 6's is the exact same as getting a pair of A's yet the pair of Aces wins every time. Jan 19, 2017 at 14:00
  • So the value of the cards are clearly important! Except when it comes to a flush it seems. In that scenario only one card is important, and that just doesn't make sense. Also you're a bit of an arsehole dude. I'm just asking a question as trying to understand the rules better. No need to be so damn snarky. Jan 19, 2017 at 14:05
  • @CallumFaulkner Hand rank (trips versus pair) is not the same as card rank. I clearly state "rules for equal rank hands were picked...". Did I say I can't see how? I stated I did not like that game.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 19, 2017 at 14:21
  • @CallumFaulkner "I still think you're being close minded if you can't see how A,2,3,4,6 could be a better hand than K,Q,J,9,8" I think you meant it the other way around, because A,... is a better hand than K,... In any case, consider the case where you have both of those hands and neither is a flush. Ace high still wins against King high in that case.
    – user1934
    Jan 19, 2017 at 15:55

Well, that is the rule. You cannot change it whether you like it or not. A high flush is a nut flush. The first kicker is the most important one. In full houses it is the same - first three cards are more important than the following two. A > K > Q > J... > 2.

  • But why is it the rule? Why did they decide the highest value card determines the winner and not the highest value flush? That's my question. Jan 19, 2017 at 12:18
  • Like if a pair of 6's beats a pair of 2's the value of the cards is important. So logic would suggest the value of the cards in the flush should determine the winner (split pot if both flushes end up being equal value). Jan 19, 2017 at 12:19
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    well A2 theoretically is a better hand than KQ - because if both players go allin preflop (for example) A2 doesnt need to improve while KQ has to hit at least one pair. And as I responded it is all about the first kicker, first card in this instance. Jan 19, 2017 at 13:04
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    @CallumFaulkner People that made the rules were probably a lot simpler than we are now? Back then people had to add by hand. Less logical to you.
    – paparazzo
    Jan 19, 2017 at 14:02
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    Calculating odds would get way more difficult with the sum-flush rule you're suggesting. If I have a K high flush, all I need to worry about is if someone has an A high flush. Very simple to figure out the odds of someone having that card. If I have to sum the cards of my flush, it's quite complicated to figure out the odds of someone else beating me, since there's so many combinations of cards to sum. I really doubt the rules would be any different if they were made today - you realize the ranks of the "simple" people of the past include the likes of Newton, Socrates, Einstein, etc? Jan 19, 2017 at 14:05

This is like saying for basketball "It really pisses me off that slam dunks aren't worth 3 points." It's a game, you didn't make the rules, suck it up and stop complaining

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    Haha or like saying "would not it be fair if penguins could fly too?" Jan 26, 2017 at 13:14

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