What Happens if Two Hands Tie in Poker?

Poker newcomers might get confused by some out of the ordinary things in poker. Or it can be as simple as basic poker rules and how hand ranking is determined.

when poker pot is split
Both layers hold the same hand, their hand combination is AAKT9. Their hands are tied and pot will be split.

As a seasoned poker pro player, I can, on the other hand, instantly see who won the hand, not just in Holdem, but also in other poker variants. yes in Omaha also.
Don’t worry; this comes with experience, and we all need to start somewhere. Just move one step at a time, and soon you will know the essential poker rules on the fly.

In this article, I will explain to you in detail what happens if two hands tie in poker and the usage of kickers.

So, what happens if two hands tie in poker? If two or more players have the same hand, then the pot will get split equally between them after the rake is deducted. Players will have the same hand if their five-card combination is of the same values. That is where the confusion might come from.

All five cards must be of the same rank. Only then will the players tie, and pot will get split. If they have the same card rank, but not all other cards are of equal value, then the person with a higher side card will win. In poker jargon, this is also called having a better kicker. A most common scenario of this is when both players have a pair.

better kicker in poker
A player that holds AK wins the pot in this situation. His winning hand combination is AAKT5. AQ only has AAQT5. K is a better kicker.

An excellent example of this is as follows. You have AK, and an opponent has AQ on the AT345 board. In this case, you win, even though you both have a pair of aces. Your 5 card combination is higher than the opponent’s. You have AAKT5, and your opponent has AAQT5. That is why your pair of aces with a king kicker beats the opponent’s pair of aces with a queen kicker.

Elimination in a tournament when you tie

There is a scenario in a tournament. It is 1 player left to bust before players are in the prize pool, which in poker jargon is known as the bubble. It is 11 players left, with 10 people getting paid.
2 short stacks, both have the same 5 card combination hand at showdown. Bigger stack has the better hand and knocks both of them out.
Then the first person that went allin, and lost, would finish as the bubble on 11th spot. The person who went all-in after him would be knocked out and finish the tournament on the 10th spot and get paid.

What is a kicker in poker

Kicker, or as some call it, a side card, is a card in poker that doesn’t determine the rank of the card. It is still used in getting the best 5 card combination and is used to determine the winner of the hand. If players have the same rank and same kickers, then the pot would be split.

better sidecard in poker
The player holding AT wins the pots, because of better kickers.

For example: on the board is AK897. One player holds AT, and other player holds A5. So both players have a pair of aces, but they have different kickers.

Player one has AAKT9 (best 5 card combination he can have), and player two has the best combination of AAK98. Player one kickers are K, T, and 9; player 2 kickers are K, 9, and 8. Therefore the player one would win because he has better kickers – his 5 card combination is better.

When does a kicker count?

Firstly, if you are confused about kickers and when they count and when they don’t, then remember the following. For every single hand in poker, a combination of the best rank of 5 cards count. You need to use 5 cards all the time. So at all times, 5 cards count towards your card value.

You can either use 2, one or none of the cards you were dealt. or community cards you can either use all 5, 4 or only 3. But total number of cards you need to use is five.

If you have a pair, then you used 2 cards already, now you need to use 3 more cards to get your 5 ard ranking. Look at the example above with AK and AQ; kickers count there because each player has a pair plus they need to use 3 best possible cards more.

In the same way, do 2 pairs have a kicker, so does the 4 of a kind hand. Even your sets have two kickers. Straights, full houses, flushes, and royal flush have no kickers. For them, you already used 5 card hand combination. Note that the person with higher straight or a flush or bigger full house will still win, as he has a better hand ranking than the lower counterpart.

If you want to read more about kickers, then here is a link to Wikipedia.

When poker pot is split

When a poker pot is split, it gets divided equally to the number of players that participated in the showdown. If only 2 players would be involved in the hand from the beginning, then due to rake, each of them would get slightly less than they invested in the pot.

That is why you must start playing on a poker room that has the best rakeback deals. If you wonder what rakeback is and which poker sites have the best deals, then read this detailed article I wrote about rakeback.

Nuts on the board

nut straight on board
In the case of nut straight on board, everyone that gets to showdown will have the nuts. So the pot will be split every time.

When I am playing online, I sometimes see people betting huge amounts where the board itself is nuts.

Examples of nuts on board:

  • The royal flush on board
  • Nut straight on board
  • 4 of a kind and an ace on board

In these scenarios, it makes no sense to bet huge. In fact it makes sense to not bet at all if a nuts is present on the board. Only if a person doesn’t pay attention to the board, they might fold.

Maybe it had happened to me once that someone would fold their hand when the nuts were present on board. In 5 million hands. It makes no sense to bet because you only cost yourself money by making the pot bigger.

More significant is the pot, the bigger will be the rake. The pot will still get split up equally among all the players that went to showdown because everyone will have the same hand. Just your share now will be slightly smaller because the poker room will take more rake for themselves.  And the percentage of the pot is equally distributed after reducing it for the rake amount.

It can happen that pot cannot get divided exactly equally among players due to rounding. Then the first player to the left of the button that was involved in showdown might get one small blind more than others. Or in online cash games, one player might get one cent more than others as you cannot divide 1 cent.

Related Questions:

nut straight, 2nd nut straight
A person with KQ will win because he has the highest straight possible and has the best hand possible on this board. A person with Q8 has the second-best hand.

If two players have a straight, who wins? If two players had a straight at showdown, the one with a higher straight combination would win. For example, the first player has KQ and a K high straight of J9T24 board, and the second player has Q8 and therefore only Q high straight. So the first player would win because his straight combination is higher. If both players would have the same straight combination, then the pot would get split equally between them.

Can there be a tie in poker? Of course, there can be a tie in poker. We need to distinguish between the different meanings of a tie in poker.

  • One is having the same 5 hand card combinations in cash games.
  • Another one could happen when players decide to split the remaining prize pool in the tournament.
  • Technically a tie could also be in a satellite, where players that qualify would receive the same reward, which is a ticket to the tournament. None of the players would receive more.
  • I remember one scene in a live poker tournament. Two players were eliminated from a tournament at the same time on the bubble. It happened on two different tables. So the floorperson decided it is a tie between them, and each of them would receive half of the prize pool that was for one player.

What happens if two players have the same high card? If two players have the same high card, then the one that holds the second-highest card wins. In poker, the person who has the strongest 5 hand card combination wins. So two players could have 4 cards the same, but 5th wouldn’t be. Then the person who has a higher 5th card would win.