A Complete Guide to Straights: Everything to Know

Geoff Fisk
Published by:
Posted on 03/10/2021

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 AK♣QJ♠T and 6♠543♣2.

Introduction

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 (543♣2A♠) as well as the high end of a ten-to-ace straight (AK♣QJ♠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♠987♣6), beats a seven-high straight (765♣43♠).

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, QK♣A♠23 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 765♣43♠ and 7♠654♣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 AK♣QJ♠T, QJT♣98♠, T♠987♣6♥, and 543♣2A♠ 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.