Poker.org’s continuing series on poker hand rankings describes each possible made hand on the poker hand rankings chart. The following article takes a look at the straight, including the math behind making a straight in a game of poker.
Examples of straights include hands like A♥K♣Q♥J♠T♦ and 6♠5♥4♦3♣2♥.
A straight consists of five sequential cards in the same hand. The suits don’t matter when it comes to making a straight, and the highest card in the straight determines the strength of the hand.
The ace can act as both the low end of an ace-to-five straight (5♥4♦3♣2♥A♠) as well as the high end of a ten-to-ace straight (A♥K♣Q♥J♠T♦). Ace-to-five makes the lowest possible straight, while ten-to-ace is the highest possible straight.
All other straights in between the low and high ends use the highest-ranking card to determine the hand’s strength. A ten-high straight, for example (T♠9♥8♦7♣6♥), beats a seven-high straight (7♥6♦5♣4♥3♠).
The straight hand explained
Any five-card hand that includes five sequential cards qualifies as a straight. The suits of the cards don’t matter, as any mix of suits can be used to make a straight.
The highest card in the straight determines the hand’s strength. If two straights go head-to-head, the hand with the highest-ranking top card wins.
An ace can be used as the low card in a five-high straight (aka the wheel) or the high card in an ace-high straight (aka broadway).
Wrap-around straights using the ace as a bridge don’t qualify as a straight. For example, Q♥K♣A♠2♦3♥ is just an ace-high hand, not counting as a straight.
How does a straight hand rank?
A straight represents a strong hand, often good enough to win the pot in many poker games. The straight ranks as the sixth-best hand you can make according to the poker hand rankings. An ace-high straight (ten-to-ace) beats all other straights in a head-to-head battle.
What beats a straight hand?
A straight makes a strong holding, but it loses to the five hands above it on the Poker.org poker hand rankings chart. Royal flushes, straight flushes, four-of-a-kind, full houses, and flushes all beat straights. The strength of a straight doesn’t matter when it goes up against one of these superior hands.
What can a straight hand beat?
A straight beats all made hands that sit below it in the poker hand rankings. Straights beat three-of-a-kind, two pair, one pair, and high-card hands. A straight loses to a flush, as well as all other hands above in on the poker hand rankings chart.
Probability of a straight hand
When drawing five cards randomly from a standard 52-card deck, you have a 0.3925% chance of making a straight. This probability equates to 253.8-to-1 odds against drawing a straight.
The deck yields 10 distinct ways to draw a straight. The suits don’t factor into that calculation, as for example 7♥6♦5♣4♥3♠ and 7♠6♥5♦4♣3♥ are both the same distinct straight.
Factoring in different combinations of suits, you have 10,200 total ways to draw a straight from a 52-card deck.
In Texas Hold’em, you’re tasked with making the strongest possible five-card hand out of seven total cards. If all five community cards are on the board, you have a 4.62% chance of making a straight (20.6-to-1 odds against)
Examples of straight hands
Hands like A♥K♣Q♥J♠T♦, Q♥J♦T♣9♥8♠, T♠9♥8♦7♣6♥, and 5♥4♦3♣2♥A♠ all mark examples of a made straight. Note that the ace can act as the low card of a five-high straight or the high-card of an ace-high straight. In a battle between two straights, the hand with the strongest high card wins.