When two players appear to have the same hand in poker, deciding who is the winner is not always easy. I’ve played for over 10 years and will show you how to determine whether there is a winner or if there it is a tie.

What happens if you have the same hand in poker? If two or more players have the same hand the high card determines the winner. For straights or flushes, the highest top card is declared the winner. For one pair and two pair hands, the highest kicker wins. If players have the same 5-card hand, it is a tie and the pot is split equally.

Sometimes the basics are not enough and further explanation is needed. Let’s go through all the possible hands and show how a tiebreaker is handled for each and every possible situation in poker.

Poker Tiebreaker Rules

Having a tie in poker is actually a fairly rare thing. For the purposes of this article we will focus on ties in Texas Hold’em. However, the methodology works for any form of poker.

Who Wins If No One Has a Pair? High Card Tiebreaker Rules

The easy way to determine who wins if no one has even a pair is for everyone to put their hands in order from high to low. Then, simply start at the top and work your way down until the tie is broken. The highest non-tie card wins.

High-Card Tiebreaker Examples:

  • AJT85 beats AJT82
  • T8542 Beats T7653
  • 85432 Beats 76542
  • K6542 Beats K6532

What Happens If Two Players Have the Same One-pair Hand?

If two or more players have the same pair, you use the same methodology as you do for high-card hands. The next highest non-tie card determines the winner.

One-Pair Tiebreaker Examples:

  • KKT75 beats KK942
  • 88652 Beats 88642
  • AAK83 Beats AAK82

Who Wins in Poker If Both Players Have 2 Pair? Two-Pair Tiebreaker Rules

Two pair winners are really easy to determine, the player with the higher pair wins. For example, JJ22 beats TT99.

If both players have the same two pair, it is also easy to figure out the winner since there is only one kicker. Whichever kicker is higher wins.

Two-Pair Tiebreaker Examples:

  • 7733A beats 55442
  • JJTT8 beats JJTT5
  • 8822A beats 8822K

Three of a Kind Tiebreaker Rules

The person with the highest three of a kind wins. If two players have the same three of a kind, then the kickers are used to determine the tiebreaker.

Three of a Kind Tiebreaker Examples:Which Hand Is Best in High-Low Poker?

  • TTT92 beats 77743
  • QQQT2 beats QQQ76

What Happens If Two Players Have a Straight or Flush?

If two or more players have a straight or flush, whoever has the top card wins.

Straight & Flush Tiebreaker Examples:

  • 76543 beats 5432A (Ace is a one in this case)
  • J♠ 9♠ 5♠ 3♠ 2♠ beats T♠ 8♠ 7♠ 6♠ 4♠

What If Two Players Have a Full House?

To break a tie with a full house, whoever has the highest “trips” parts of their hand wins. The “pair” part of the hand does not matter except as a tiebreaker. If the pairs are the same as well, then the hand is a tie and the pot is split.

Full House Tiebreaker Examples:

  • TTT22 beats 777AA
  • 555JJ beats 444KK
  • QQQ33 beats QQQ22

Four of a Kind, Straight Flushes, and Royal Flushes

Unless the hand is on the board, it is extremely rare for there to be two players with the same ultra-premium hand like four of a kind, a straight flush, or a royal flush. However, it is easy to decide who is the winner.

  • Four of a kind – The highest four of a kind hand wins
  • Straight flush– Usually when this happens, one player will have the top of the straight flush and the other the bottom. The top wins.
  • Royal flush– The only time it is possible for two players to have a royal flush is if it is on the board. Even if it was possible, two royal flushes is always a tie. Contrary to what some people believe, one suit does not beat another suit unless a specific local rule dictates it.

What Happens If Players Have the Same Hand Even After a Tiebreaker?

Can there be a tie in poker? In poker, if no winner can be determined with a tiebreaker, then the hand is declared a tie and the tied players split the pot. The most frequent time there is a tie in poker is where the board is paired twice and two or more players each have the same high card.

Examples of tied hands:

  • One player has AK and the other has AQ and the board is J2255. Each player has A2255 and for a tie.
  • One player has A8 and another has A6. The final board is AQJJ9. Both players have a pair of Aces with kickers of QJJ9. They would split the pot.
  • One player has 98 and the other has 92. The final board is AKQT5. Both players have the high card hand AKQT9. The pot is once again split between them.

What If the Best Hand Is on the Board?

If no part of anyone’s hand can break the tie, then the pot is split equally among the players with live cards. This commonly happens when there is a straight or a flush on the board. This is known as “playing the board.”

How Do We Split up the Pot?

The easiest method to split up a pot in poker is to start with the highest chip color and work your way down. If there is an uneven number of a color, you pull in enough from the next lowest amount to even it up. Then start the process again with the next highest color available.

What If There Is an Uneven Amount in the Pot?

If there is an extra chip left over after the pot has been split, then the first player seated clockwise from the dealer gets it. In heads-up, the player who was the Big Blind gets the extra chip.

Which Hand Is Best in High-Lo Poker?

There are a few variations of poker, namely Omaha Hi-Lo where the low hand wins half of the pot. In this case, whoever can make the lowest possible hand that isn’t a straight wins. 5-4-3-2-A is known as the “nut low.” and is a really strong hand in Hi-Lo games.

In order to qualify for a low hand, the highest card has to be 8 or lower. 86532 qualifies but 95432 does not.

What Are Common Tie-Breaker Mistakes?

In pub poker or home games, I see people scoop a pot quite frequently when it was supposed to be a tie. The most common time this happens is when someone is dominated and then their kicker is counterfeited at some point during the hand.

Here are some examples:

AQ vs. A2– Board runs out A588K, which means they both are holding two pair Aces and eights with a King kicker. I have witnessed the pot be pushed to the AQ guy and the next hand be about to start before anyone notices.

66 vs. 44– Board runs out KTT7K, which means they both are playing the board with two-pair, Kings over Tens with a seve kicker. I swear, I wish the guy with 66 would notice the counterfeiting just one time. I’ve seen supposedly “experienced” players not even understand that 66 and 44 are tied here.

AA vs. AK– Board runs out 97568, with a straight on the board it’s a split pot. Yet you’d be surprised how often the guy with AA will try to drag in the entire pot.

Remind Me, What Is the Hand Ranking Order Again?

Ranked from best hand to worst:

  • Royal Flush
  • Straight Flush
  • Four of a Kind
  • Full House
  • Flush
  • Straight
  • Three of a Kind
  • Two-Pair
  • One-Pair
  • High Card

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to break any possible tie in poker if two players seem to have the same hand. If you want to learn the basics of poker strategy, you might want to check out my Complete Texas Hold’em Strategy Guide.

Related Questions

Can you have two hands in poker? You are required to always play your highest hand possible in Texas hold’em or other poker games. However, if you verbally announce a weaker version of your hand then you actually have, the dealer may actually force you to play the weaker hand.

Which is higher straight or flush? According to the hand ranking rules of poker, a flush always beats a straight.

Is JQKA2 a straight? AThis is know as an around-the-corner straight and is only used as a special rule in some home games. In games that follow the exact rules of poker, JQKA2 is not considered a straight and is just an Ace-high high-card hand.

Jim James
Jim James

Jim is the author of the best-selling book called Automatic Poker. He has been playing professionally for over 15 years and has helped countless people become winning poker players. Using a no-nonsense mathematical and logical approach to beating the games, Jim has helped demystify what it takes to win money in No-Limit Hold’em.
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