Poker Lesson 04

Who wins the showdown? – Another example
The rule that a poker hand (with some rare exceptions among the offbeat forms of poker) always consists of five cards sometimes leads to consequences which the beginner may find strange.

Imagine for example that player A has A-10 in hand, while player B has A-3 in hand. If we assume that the flop is A-6-J, the fourth card another 6, and the fifth card a 2 – who wins then?

First of all, both players have two pairs, A-A-6-6 (they both have an Ace each in hand, while the other Ace and both Sixes are on the table). Here, then, is clearly a case (see lesson 02) where the fifth card, the kicker, decides.

A beginner in Texas hold'em will instinctively say that of course player A with A-10 in hand should win over player B with A-3, since player A has a higher card in hand, but the fact is that there is an even higher community card on the table – that Jack which fell on the flop! The effect of this is that the highest possible five-card hand for both player A and player B is A-A-6-6-J. Both the 10 and the 3 in the respective hands are lower than the Jack, and therefore do not count. In this case, the players will therefore split the pot.

Let us now instead assume that the two players still have the same hole cards, A-10 and A-3 respectively, but that the board (the cards on the table) is A-6-9-6-2. Now who wins?

Now player A wins, since her best hand is A-A-6-6-10. The best possible hand for player B is instead A-A-6-6-9, and he has no use for his 3 in hand.

Thus, if there are higher cards on the table than any player has in hand, it may lead to two or more players having equally high hands, and a split pot, as in the above example.

Another example is if one player has A-K, and the other only has J-10. If the flop, the turn and the river now produce Q-10-A-K-J, there will be a straight on the board which will be the best hand for both players, and they will split the pot between them also in this case – even though player A has higher cards in hand than player B.

The basic principle for the showdown thus goes like this: each player "indicates" his or her best possible five-card hand, and then these hands are compared with one another – and the highest five-card hand wins the pot. If two or more five-card hands are equally good, those players will split the pot. In this case it does not matter whether one of the players has a higher "sixth card" than the other, it does not count.