What is a High Card in Poker?

  • Avatar for the CardsChat Editorial TeamWritten by  the CardsChat Editorial Team

High Card is the weakest combination out of all poker hands. It is a five-card hand with different suits and without any matching ranks. The best High Card is Ace-high, while the lowest hand in Hold’em is a 7-high (2-3-4-5-7).

What Does a High Card Look Like?

If the hand doesn’t even have One Pair and all five cards are not of the same exact suit or in sequential order, the hand is valued based on its highest-ranking card. Here are some examples of High Card hands:

  1. A, Q, 9, 5, 3
  2. K, 7, 5, 4, 2
  3. J, 10, 7, 6, 2
  4. 9, 8, 7, 6, 4

How Does a High Card Rank?

A High Card is the lowest of all poker hands when playing standard versions of the game. It is weaker than One Pair and so it will also be beaten by Two PairsThree of a Kind, a Straight, and all other higher hands in poker.

What Beats a High Card?

RankHand NamesExampleHand Description
1Royal FlushRoyal Flush HandHand Description 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace all in the same suit.
2Straight FlushStraight Flush HandHand Description Five cards in a row, all in the same suit.
3Four of a KindFour Of A Kind HandHand Description The same card in each of the four suits.
4Full HouseFull House HandHand Description A pair plus three of a kind in the same hand.
5FlushFlush HandHand Description Five cards, all in one suit, but not in numerical order.
6StraightStraight HandHand Description Five cards in numerical order, but not of the same suit.
7Three of a KindThree Of A Kind HandHand Description Three of one card and two non-paired cards.
8Two PairTwo Pair HandHand Description Two different pairings or sets of the same card in one hand.
9One PairOne Pair HandHand Description One pairing of the same card.
10High CardHigh Card HandHand Description No matching cards.

A hand with just a High Card can only beat a weaker High Card hand. For example, K-8-7-6-2 is better than Q-J-10-9-6. If two players have the same High Card, the tie is broken by the second highest card and so on.

How Should You Play a High Card in Hold’em?

It is rare that a High Card wins a hand in poker.

It could be that the hand is checked down all the way to the showdown and a high card wins the pot due to no player having so much as a pair. It could be that you run a bluff and your High Card hand isn’t even seen by your opponents, who all fold. It could also be that a preflop shove with Ace-high is called, but no one manages to make a hand and the Ace wins the pot (not uncommon in the late stages of a tournament). But it’s very rare that a High Card hand will win a pot of any significance.

If you find yourself at the river with a High Card you may try winning the pot with a bluff, but it will be the bluff that wins the hand, not the strength of the High Card.

There may be occasions, also, where you are able to confidently put your opponent on a particular drawing hand which can be beaten by an Ace-high or similar. If they miss their draws and try a bluff anyway, you may be able to win the pot with your High Card hand. But as a rule you should not expect to win a lot of chips with a hand like this – if it doesn’t improve, and fast, you will probably want to let it go and move on.

High Card Probabilities

Although a High Card is weaker than One Pair, the probability of getting a High Card hand in Texas Hold’em is lower than that for making a pair. This is because you are more likely to make at least a pair, with seven cards available, than to miss everything.

Below, we look at High Card probabilities for a five-card hand.

Number of ways to make the hand
(not including different suits)
Number of ways to make the hand
(including different suits)
Odds of getting High CardProbability of getting High Card
1,2771,302,5401 / 0.99550.1177%

The odds of being dealt a High Card 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.


What is a High Card in poker?

High Card is the lowest hand rank in poker. It is a hand of five cards that doesn’t have two matching cards, five cards in sequence or all cards of the same suit. You can learn all of the poker hands here.

What beats a High Card?

All other poker hand values beat a High Card. Of course, a hand with a High Card will also lose to a hand with a High Card of a better rank.

What can a High Card beat?

A poker High Card can only beat another High Card hand if its rank is higher than that of the opponent.

Can you win with a High Card?

The odds of winning with a High Card are not great. In fact, there is only a 17.4% probability of only making a High Card hand in Texas Hold’em. This means that there is an 82.6% probability of the opponent making a better hand. And on top of that, you also have to consider the odds of the opponent having a better High Card combination.

Which High Card is strongest?

An Ace is the strongest high card that a player can possess followed by a King, then a Queen, then a Jack, etc.

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