Poker is a winner-takes-all game, based on who has the best hand at the final showdown. But it’s possible for two or more players to have matching hands, or at least hands of an identical value. In such cases, there is the potential for a tie, where two (or more) players are declared joint winners, and the pot is shared between them. Usually, however, there is a tiebreaker that determines which of the matching hands is the winner.
Look to the high card
In most cases, two hands that are of equal value according to poker rules aren’t actually identical. The basic principle to follow is that in the event of a tie, the high card determines the winner. How this works in practice is different depending on the hands being played.
Kickers come into play
With most matching poker hands, whether sat around a table or at an NJ online casino, the kickers are the determining factor. For hands that don’t involve all five cards, such as pairs or a three-of-a-kind, the kickers are the side cards that make up the numbers. They’re not the main component, and usually don’t affect whether a hand beats its opponents or not. But in the event of tie, these back-up cards come into their own.
In the case of two or more players having a pair, two pairs, or three of a kind, then the highest set wins. If they have identical sets, for instance, they both have two kings, or two kings and two sevens, then the player with the highest-ranking kicker is the winner. Ifthere are two or three kickers, then each player compares their highest cards until one outranks the other.
Straights and flushes
Straights and flushes both use all five cards in a hand. If two or more players bothturn up one of these hands, the one with the highest top card wins. In the history of gambling, it’s veryrare fortwo straights or flushes to be of identical value. If this happens, we have a genuine tie, and the pot is split equally. Two royal flushes are always a tie.
A full house is made up of three of a kind and a pair and is always judged first on the three matching cards (triplets, or trips). If these are matching, then the highest pair wins. The pair in a five-card full house effectively acts as the kicker, and its value only matters in the event of a tie.
If none of the players even has a pair, never mind a stronger hand, all the cards are laid out in order, high to low. These are compared, and the player with the highest non-tied card wins.
Genuine ties are rare in poker. The better your hand, the less likely it is that another player will have one of identical value. Nevertheless, they do happen, and it’s worth keeping an eye out for situations which should be a tie, but one player claims to be the overall winner. Keep your tiebreakers handy: you never know when you might need them.