If you're new to the wonderful world of poker, you may be wondering what a “flush” is. Depending on the type of poker game you play, it can be a highly valuable hand! But what is a flush in poker, and how should you play it? Let's take a look.
What is a flush?
In poker, a flush is a hand with five cards in the same suit. The highest number card in your hand determines the power of the flush. For example, an ace-high flush will beat other players in tie-breaks.
There are three different types of flush. The simple or basic flush is a five-card hand that shares the same suit but isn't in numerical order.
Numerical-ordered flushes, meanwhile, are called straight flushes. For example, your hand might include a 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of clubs.
However, it's the royal flush that really makes a difference! The strongest hand in the game, this flush is a straight hand running from 10 to an ace. So, you'd expect a hand of 10, J, Q, K and ace of hearts.
Different types of flushes play better than others in practice. They also vary in power depending on the kind of game you play.
What beats a flush in poker?
Per the flush rules in poker, a basic flush ranks fourth out of all poker hands. It's beatable with:
- A full house (three cards ranking the same with two other cards ranking the same)
- A four-of-a-kind (four cards ranking the same with one on the side)
- A straight or royal flush (as above, a flush in sequence)
However, flushes can easily beat each other! That's because they're ranked. As mentioned, the highest card in your flush dictates how powerful your hand is in-play.
This power scale places the ace as the highest card above the king. Therefore, a flush with an ace as the highest card will win over a flush with a queen as the uppermost value.
In the event of a further tie, the next highest-value cards match up. So, a hand of A-K-10-10-3 will beat A-J-8-2-1. The tie keeps rolling down until you account for all five cards in each hand.
Is a flush a strong hand in poker?
A flush can be a very strong poker hand depending on the variations in the games you play. Following general poker rules, a basic flush already beats the following hands:
- A straight (five cards in numerical order in mixed suits)
- A three-of-a-kind (three cards ranking the same)
- A two-pair (two sets of two cards in the same rank, mixed suits)
- A one-pair (two cards ranking the same)
- A high card (no specific hand, but playing on the highest value card)
Many players hedge their bets on a flush as it's statistically more likely to win than lose. A straight flush poker players can rely on even more – it's very powerful!
How should you play a flush?
Your odds of getting a flush on the flop are fairly slim – a one in more than 500 chance! That, and given its place as a mid-ranking hand, means it's often better to play your hand than to miss your chance.
That said, look at your ranking. Do you have a hand of 7-5-4-3-2? This is a low flush at its most simple. You'll be easy to outrank with a hand of 8-6-5-4-2, for example.
However, you'd beat this hand with a low straight flush of 6-5-4-3-2. Remember, aces are high – they count as 11, not 1.
Whether or not you should play a flush can also vary depending on the poker style you're into. Let's take a closer look.
Flush in Texas Hold'em
Playing a flush in Texas Hold'em is pretty simple. The basic rules and rankings apply, meaning your standard flush stands a good chance of beating half the hands possible out of your deck. Your probability of getting a flush is just lower than 20%.
However, that applies to everyone else at the table! Can you be sure no one else has drawn a flush, too? If they have, your top card needs to be fairly strong. If you have a picture card as a flush top, you are in a stronger position than most.
You'll rarely beat a flush on the river, meaning it pays to do a little mental math before folding.
Flush in three-card poker
Three-card poker takes things back to absolute basics. In this game, the highest possible flush is an ace, a king, and a jack. If you draw a hand of 5-3-2, however, you've got the lowest flush in the game.
Unlike in Texas Hold'em, the flush in three-card poker is quite weak. The straight, three-of-a-kind, straight flush and mini royal flush outrank it. It'll still beat a one-pair and high card, however.
With that in mind, it's riskier to bet on a basic flush in three-card poker than in other games.
Which flush is higher?
The highest possible flush in any game of poker is the royal flush. This super-rare hand is a straight run of all picture cards, and it's virtually an “instant win.” The probability of you getting a royal flush is around 0.000154%!
As high cards determine the rank of flushes otherwise, a strong basic flush might be A-K-Q-J-9. It's one card off a straight but will still beat all other basic flushes in tie-breaks!
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Why not try some of our free games so you can practice flush rules in poker at no cost? Getting great at poker takes time and effort. But, if you're lucky enough to grab a flush, you're in a strong position to win.