Probability and Poker

Poker hand - royal flush

In the standard game of poker, each player gets 5 cards and places a bet, hoping his cards are "better" than the other players' hands.

The game is played with a pack containing 52 cards in 4 suits, consisting of:

13 hearts: ♥ 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A
13 diamonds: ♦ 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A
13 clubs: ♣ 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A
13 spades: ♠ 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A

The number of different possible poker hands is found by counting the number of ways that 5 cards can be selected from 52 cards, where the order is not important. It is a combination, so we use `C_r^n`.

The number of possible poker hands


Royal Flush

The best hand (because of the low probability that it will occur) is the royal flush, which consists of 10, J, Q, K, A of the same suit. There are only 4 ways of getting such a hand (because there are 4 suits), so the probability of being dealt a royal flush is

`4/(2,598,960)=0.000\ 001\ 539`

Straight Flush

The next most valuable type of hand is a straight flush, which is 5 cards in order, all of the same suit.

For example, 2♣, 3♣, 4♣, 5♣, 6♣ is a straight flush.

For each suit there are 10 such straights (the one starting with Ace, the one starting with 2, the one starting with 3, ... through to the one starting at 10) and there are 4 suits, so there are 40 possible straight flushes.

The probability of being dealt a straight flush is

`40/(2,598,960)=0.000\ 015\ 39`

[Note: There is some overlap here since the straight flush starting at 10 is the same as the royal flush. So strictly there are 36 straight flushes (4 × 9) if we don't count the royal flush. The probability of getting a straight flush then is 36/2,598,960 = 0.00001385.]

The table below lists the number of possible ways that different types of hands can arise and their probability of occurrence.

Ranking, Frequency and Probability of Poker Hands

Hand No. of Ways Probability Description
Royal Flush



Ten, J, Q, K, A of one suit.
Straight Flush



A straight is 5 cards in order.
(Excludes royal and straight flushes.)
An example of a straight flush is: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, all spades.
Four of a Kind



Example: 4 kings and any other card.
Full House



3 cards of one denominator and 2 cards of another. For example, 3 aces and 2 kings is a full house.



All 5 cards are from the same suit.
(Excludes royal and straight flushes)
For example, 2, 4, 5, 9, J (all hearts) is a flush.



The 5 cards are in order.
(Excludes royal flush and straight flush)
For example, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (any suit) is a straight.
Three of a Kind



Example: A hand with 3 aces, one J and one Q.
Two Pairs



Example: 3, 3, Q, Q, 5
One Pair



Example: 10, 10, 4, 6, K



Example: 3, 6, 8, 9, K (at least two different suits)


The probability for a full house is given above as 0.001441. Where does this come from?

Didn't find what you are looking for on this page? Try search:

Online Algebra Solver

This algebra solver can solve a wide range of math problems. (Please be patient while it loads.)

Ready for a break?


Play a math game.

(Well, not really a math game, but each game was made using math...)

The IntMath Newsletter

Sign up for the free IntMath Newsletter. Get math study tips, information, news and updates each fortnight. Join thousands of satisfied students, teachers and parents!

Given name: * required

Family name:

email: * required

See the Interactive Mathematics spam guarantee.

Share IntMath!

Math Lessons on DVD


Easy to understand math lessons on DVD. See samples before you commit.

More info: Math videos