What is a Straight in Poker?
A Straight is one of the good poker hands that can be very valuable. It is made out of five cards of sequential ranking. The suits of the cards are not important when making a standard Straight.
- How does a Straight rank?
- What beats a Straight? (Chart)
- How to play a Straight?
- Straight Probabilities
What Does a Straight Look Like?
Unlike other poker hands, a Straight is properly named and it can quickly get players thinking of numbers in a row. Five consecutive cards form a Straight. You can find examples right here:
- A, K, Q, J, 10
- Q, J, 10, 9, 8
- 7, 6, 5, 4, 3
- 5, 4,3, 2, A
How Does a Straight Rank?
A Straight can be found in the middle of the poker hand rankings. It is weaker than a Flush and stronger than Three of a Kind. Straights are ranked based on the value of the highest card in the sequence. The Ace can be the either the highest or the lowest card in a Straight, depending on its position.
What Beats a Straight?
10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace all in the same suit.
Five cards in a row, all in the same suit.
The same card in each of the four suits.
A pair plus three of a kind in the same hand.
Five cards, all in one suit, but not in numerical order.
Five cards in numerical order, but not of the same suit.
Three of one card and two non-paired cards.
Two different pairings or sets of the same card in one hand.
One pairing of the same card.
No matching cards.
As Straights are ranked by the highest card in the sequence, the highest one possible is an Ace-high Straight. This is also called a "Broadway" Straight and looks like this: A-K-Q-J-10. The lowest Straight is a 5-high straight (with the Ace at the low end of the sequence), which is also known as the "Wheel". The suits of the cards don't matter, unless they are all the same which would make the hand a much more valuable Straight Flush. Learn more about poker nicknames here.
How should you play a Straight in Hold’em?
Flopping a Straight in Hold'em isn't a regular occurrence, but flopping a Straight draw is much more likely.
If you are drawing to a Straight it's far preferable to do it with four cards in a row, known as an open-ended Straight draw, rather than a hand where you need one specific card - such as an 8 when you hold 5-6-7-9 - which is known as an inside Straight draw. The difference between the two draws is that one has literally twice the outs of the other (8 outs for an open-ended draw vs. 4 outs for an inside draw).
It can sometimes be tricky getting paid off when you hit a Straight, as runs of cards on the board naturally make opponents wary. You'll tend to do better when your Straight is in some way disguised - for example when you hold 7-8 on a board of 6-9-T.
Two dangers to watch for when playing your Straight are possible Flushes and higher Straights. If the board contains three cards of the same suit, you could be up against a Flush and already beaten. Likewise if you have the 'low end' of a Straight you will not be able to proceed with confidence (e.g. if you hold 8-9 on a board of T-J-Q, you are dominated by hands like K-9 and A-K).
A Straight of five cards can be made in 10,200 ways when using the standard deck of 52 cards. For Texas Hold'em, with three community cards and two in the hole, the odds of flopping a Straight are as follows:
Number of ways to make the hand
(not including different suits)
Number of ways to make the hand
(including different suits)
Odds of getting a Straight
Probability of getting a Straight
1 / 253.8
The odds of hitting a Straight on the flop is only the tip of the iceberg. For more on odds, including the probability of winning any given hand on the flop, turn, and/or river, have a play with our poker odds calculator.