What is a Royal Flush in Poker? Everything You Need to Know

Poker.Org Staff
Published by:
Last updated: May 17, 2022 4:25 pm EDT

As part of Poker.org’s cards chart and poker hands series, we bring you a full rundown of the royal flush, including the definition, probability, ranking, hands that beat it (nothing) and examples.

There are only four ways to make a Royal Flush from a 52-card poker deck:

A♠K♠Q♠J♠T♠, AKQJT, A♣K♣Q♣J♣T♣, AKQJT

You probably already know about the royal flush’s simpler cousin — the straight flush. A straight flush is when you have any five cards of the same suit in numerical order. A royal flush is similar but far more valuable. Poker players of all experience levels dream of getting a royal flush, also called an ace-high straight flush, because it is absolutely unbeatable.

What is a Royal Flush?

The royal flush represents the strongest hand you can possibly make in a game of poker. Royal flushes top all other hands in the poker hand rankings and are mathematically the rarest made hands that you can draw from a 52-card poker deck.

The official definition of royal flush is a ten-to-ace straight with all five cards of matching suits. A standard poker deck yields only four ways to make a royal flush, as the royal flush stands as the rarest of poker hands.

The hand occurs so infrequently, in fact, that you could play thousands of poker hands and never make a royal flush.

The Royal Flush Explained

Only four ways to make a royal flush exist in a standard 52-card poker deck. You can make an ace-to-ten straight in any of the four suits, (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs), but all five cards must be the same suit for the hand to qualify as a royal flush.

The royal flush stands as the best possible straight flush you can make. A straight flush is made of five sequential cards that are all the same suit.

The royal flush sits on the top end of the spectrum of straight flushes you can make and sits atop all other hands in the poker hand rankings.

What Beats a Royal Flush?

No other made hand beats a royal flush in games that use the standard poker hand rankings. Royal flushes mark the best possible hand in games like Texas Hold’em, Pot-Limit Omaha Hi, Stud, Short Deck Hold’em, and many others.

In games with a hi-lo split, it’s possible for the best qualifying low hand to chop the pot with a royal flush. Games that use hi-lo split rules include Omaha Eight or Better, Stud Eight or Better, and a few other poker variants.

The royal flush is always an unbeatable high hand, however. In Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha, it’s impossible for two players to use their hole cards to make a royal flush in the same hand.

Does a Five of a Kind Beat a Royal Flush?    

Five of a kind doesn’t occur in games that use a standard 52-card deck. The Texas Hold’em and Pot-Limit Omaha games played in casinos around the world don’t use jokers or any kind of wild cards that would make five-of-a-kind possible.

Any poker game that includes five-of-a-kind as a possibility isn’t using a standard poker deck. 

Do Four Aces Beat a Royal Flush?

Four aces make a very strong hand, but not strong enough to beat a royal flush. Four aces stand as the strongest possible four-of-a-kind you can possibly make, but all four-of-a-kind hands lose to the royal flush. All hands below four-of-a-kind in the poker hand rankings also lose to the royal flush. 

Does a straight flush beat a royal flush?

A straight flush cannot beat a royal flush, but a straight flush does beat most other hands including four-of-a kind, full house, and three-of-a-kind. Flush hands are some of the best poker hands you can hope for, but a royal flush will always win.

Probability of a Royal Flush 

A standard poker deck yields only one distinct way to draw a royal flush. Multiplying that by the four suits, there are four total possible ways to make a royal flush.

If you drew five random cards from a 52-card deck, you’d have an 0.000154% chance of making a royal flush. This probability can also be expressed as 649,739-to-1 odds against drawing a royal flush.

In Texas Hold’em, you’re tasked with making the best possible five-card hand out of seven total cards (two hole cards plus five community cards). In a game of Texas Hold’em, you have a 0.0032% chance of making a royal flush (30,939-to-1 odds against).

Examples of a Royal Flush 

Examples of a royal flush include A♠K♠Q♠J♠T♠, AKQJT, A♣K♣Q♣J♣T♣, and AKQJT.

The standard versions of flushes and straights include many different ways to make those hands. The royal flush only gives you one distinct way to make the hand, however and four overall ways.

A royal flush can only be made as a ten-to-ace straight of all the same suit. Any suit can be used to make a royal flush, but only a ten-to-ace straight with all cards of the same suit qualifies as a royal flush.

Royal flush betting strategies

To be clear, it’s exceedingly rare for a poker player to get a royal flush even once in their poker careers. In fact, you’d have to play more than half a million hands of poker before you’ll see a royal flush. If you’re playing seven-card stud or Texas hold ‘em, the odds are a bit more in your favor than if you’re playing five-card draw, but they’re still pretty slim.

Based on the statistical probability of getting a royal flush, you’d be wise to come up with other, more likely strategies as you play. However, if it seems like a royal flush is coming together for you, you should definitely see it through.

When to try for a royal flush

As you play, be realistic about your odds. If your hand only includes one, two, or three of the cards needed for a royal flush, it’s a good idea to focus your play elsewhere. If you were dealt four of the cards you’ll need for a royal flush, then trying for the fifth may be worth your effort. After all, once you have four of the five cards you need, the odds of getting the fifth are 1 in 47. 

If you’re lucky enough to have a royal flush, you have no reason not to bet everything you have! The royal flush is unbeatable, so go all in and take home some serious winnings.

Conclusion

A royal flush is the ultimate poker hand that all players hope to achieve someday. Because it’s so powerful and rare, you can always feel confident that the hand is yours if you’ve got a royal flush.

If for some outlandish reason two players get a royal flush in the same game, the result is almost always a draw. You’ll split the pot and both go home relatively happy.

Now that you’ve learned about the best possible poker hand, it’s a good idea to brush up on the straight flush — poker’s second best hand.

Featured image source: Flickr by Minh Hoang used under CC license