These Hands are Stronger Than a Flush in Poker

A ‘flush’ is a situation in Texas Hold’em poker where you have five cards of the same suit that aren’t in sequential order. Landing a flush on the poker table significantly increases your odds of winning the hand, especially if you hold two of the five cards that make up the flush. However, while a flush beats most cards, there are some hands that are stronger.

A full house, four-of-a-kind, straight flush, and royal flush are all stronger than a flush in poker. These hands have a lower probability of occurring during a game of poker and hence are more valuable than a flush.

So while you can win the pot with a flush, it’s good to be aware of these other hands that could get in the way. In this article, we’ll look at each of these hand values, what they are made up of, and the odds of getting them during a poker game.

Full House

A full house is the first hand to outdo the flush, and it can be tempting to hold onto your cards till the river just to see it happen. A full house is when your five best cards include a three-of-a-kind and a pair. This situation can occur in a number of ways:

  • You have a pair in your hand, and three of the same cards appear on the table.
  • You have two different cards (let’s say an Ace and a 7), and you get two more Aces and one 7 on the table.
  • You have a pair in hand (like Q, Q), another pair on the table, and another Q opens up on the table.
both players have full house example
Full house is stronger than a flush. Do you know which full house is the winner in this hand? The player holding JJ wins. If you don’t know why then the article on Who Wins if Both Players Have a Full House (With Examples) is a necessary read for you.

As you can see, there are a few ways to land a full house, and you should keep an eye out in case the poker gods happen to bless you with this hand. However, as you can see by the combination required for a full house, the odds of landing one can be significantly low.

In fact, there’s only a 0.14% chance of landing a full house on any given hand. The chances of landing one are higher if you’re dealt a pocket pair, and even then, the odds of landing a full house on the flop are 101:1 against. These odds mean you may land a full house on the flop once every one hundred and one hands.

Additionally, these odds help explain why a full house is more valuable than a flush – while the odds of a full house are 1 in every 693 hands or 0,14%, the odds of landing a flush are 1 in every 509 hands or 0.20%. The higher the probability of landing a hand, the less valuable it is.

Four of a Kind

This hand is pretty self-explanatory, so we aren’t going to get into what it means. However, the probability of landing four of the same card is ridiculously low, considering there are only four of each card in any given deck. There are three main ways to hit a four-of-a-kind.

  • You have a card in your hand, and three of the same cards open up on the table.
  • You have a pair in your hand and two of the same cards open on the table.
  • Four of the same cards open on the table (in which case everyone has a four of a kind, and the one with the highest card besides these four wins the pot).
four of a kind on board
Very rare, but possible. Four of a kind can happen on board. In this case, all of the players that went to showdown would split the pot (because no royal flush or straight flush is possible and four of a kind is the strongest possible hand )

The four-of-a-kind is even safer than the full house because the chances that two people will both land a four-of-a-kind is infinitesimally low. As such, almost no one plays with the possibility of landing one during a poker game. 

The probability of landing any four-of-a-kind in a game of Texas Hold’em is 0.024% or once every 4,165 hands!

Straight Flush

The straight flush derives its name by combining a flush and a straight and involves five cards of the same suit that also form a sequence. So if you have the 4 and 5 of clubs in your hand and the 6, 7, and 8 of clubs open on the flop (which is unlikely), congratulations on landing the second-highest hand in poker!

You can make a straight flush in two main ways:

  • You have a suited pair, and three other cards of the same suit open up, creating a sequence with your hole cards.
  • You have one card of a particular suit and four other cards of the same suit open up, creating a sequence with your card.
ace high flush vs straight flush
Ace high flush is the second strongest hand on this board (left player), only beaten by an unlikely straight flush (right player). Read more about it in the article, Who Wins If Both Players Have a Flush

A straight flush is extremely rare because you require an exact number or shape, of which there’s only one card in the deck. For example, if you have the five of hearts and there are 3, 4, and 6 of hearts on the table, you can only hit a straight flush if a 2 or 7 of hearts opens up.

There are nine distinct straight flushes of any given suit, and the probability of landing one is 0.00139% or one in every 72,193 hands

Royal Flush

Finally, we arrive at the strongest poker hand, one which even most professional poker players may never see in their entire lifetime – the royal flush.

A royal flush is a straight flush of the highest straight in poker – 10, J, Q, K, A of the same suit. As you can see, there’s only one way to hit a royal flush, and the probability of such a hand occurring is almost negligible. 

Quad aces is a very strong hand, but on such a board it is possible that some other player will have a royal flush (player on the right). Such boards are extremely rare though but I do remember seeing a few royal flushes on the board. With such rare occasions variance to get one, can get big. You can easily get 5 royal flushes or just 1 in a few million hands.

Additionally, even if you were to land a royal flush, it’s unlikely that anyone else would have a hand strong enough to bet against you. As such, while hitting a royal flush may be an exhilarating experience, it probably won’t make you a fortune.

The probability of any player landing a royal flush is 0.00015% (yes, that’s three zeros after a decimal place) or one in every 649,739 hands.

Probably every poker player gets very excited when you hit a royal flush. I know I felt ecstatic with my first. But throughout my poker career, it becomes normal to see one (I played around 10 million poker hands by now).

Final Thoughts 

These are the only four hands that can beat a flush in poker, and it’s crucial to understand them in case you’re up against an aggressive opponent while you have a flush or flush draw. Knowing when to raise and when to back off (even when your hand is strong) is a vital skill for every poker player. 

Additionally, figuring out when your opponent has your flush beat can help save you a significant amount of money in the long run.