POKER

The Battle of Hands: Full House vs. Flush in Poker

By David Huber
July 12, 2023

It is important to know the showdown values of hands like a Full House when playing any poker game. At showdown, a pot will be awarded to the player who holds the highest ranked poker hand – and both a Full House and Flush are relatively strong made hands.

A very common question for beginning poker players is, “Does a Full House beat a Flush?” Or is it the other way around: “Does a Flush beat a Full House?

We’ll take a look at both hands in this article while clarifying which hand is the strongest in terms of showdown hand rankings.

full house vs flush

What is a Flush?

A Flush is a five-card poker hand in which all cards are of the same suit (hearts, spades, diamonds, or clubs). For example:

Ah-Kh-Th-7h-6h is an Ace-high Flush: Hearts
Js-9s-4s-3s-2s is a Jack-high Flush: Spades

If there are more than five cards that make up a Flush (in games like Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or Seven Card Stud), then the highest five cards are used at showdown while the extra cards go unused.

Player 1: Ad-2d

Community Board Cards: Kd-Jd-7d-5d-4d

In this example, Player 1 has an Ace-high Flush: Diamonds.

The final five-card hand that will be presented at showdown is Ad-Kd-Jd-7d-5d. Note that the Four of Diamonds and Two of Diamonds go unused.

What is a Full House?

A Full House is a five-card hand that contains three-of-a-Kind along with One Pair.

A-A-A-Q-Q is a Full House: Aces over Queens
4-4-4-J-J is a Full House: Fours over Jacks

The “three-of-a-Kind” cards are evaluated first when determining the strength of a Full House hand. For example:

Player 1: 5-5-5-3-3
Player 2: 2-2-2-A-A

At showdown, Player 1 will win the hand with a superior Full House (Fives over Threes versus Twos over Aces).

Does Flush Beat Full House?

No. In “high” poker games a Flush is considered as an inferior hand when compared to a Full House.

In fact, the very best “simple” Flush possible will lose at showdown to the very worst Full House hand.

Player 1: Ac-Kc-Qc-Jc-9c (Ace-high Flush: Clubs)
Player 2: 2s-2h-2d-3s-3c (Full House: Twos over Threes)

Player 2 will win this hypothetical hand at showdown despite Player 1’s “top” Flush hand.

Here’s another example of a Full House versus Flush hand (7 Card Stud).

Player 1: (Qd-Jd) Td-8d-3d-2d (Ad)
Player 2: (5h-5s) Ac-9d-9s-2s (5c)
Player 3: (Kh-Kd) As-Qs-Js-6c (Th)

Who wins at showdown in this 7 Card Stud hand? Is it Player 1, 2, or 3?

Player 3 has door cards showing a potential Flush draw (even a potential Royal Flush draw), but Player 3 does not have any face-down spade cards. The best five-card hand that Player 3 can present at showdown is an Ace-high Straight: A-K-Q-J-T.

Player 1 already has four cards to a Flush showing face-up, and indeed holds at least one more Diamond. Player 1 has made a Flush at showdown, and the best five-card hand is an Ace-high Flush: Diamonds: Ad-Qd-Jd-Td-8d.

Player 2 only has a pair of Nines showing face-up via the door cards. However, Player 2 has three face-down Fives. At showdown, Player 2’s hand will be a Full House: Fives over Nines. Player 2 has a Full House versus Flush versus Straight.

In summary, Player 2 wins this hand outright at showdown. Player 1 has the second-strongest hand (but still loses against Player 1), while Player 3 has the weakest hand of the three players.

What Beats a Flush?

Although a Flush in poker is a relatively strong hand, it can still be defeated by superior five-card hands.

Here is a look at the five-card hands that will defeat a Flush in poker games.

Full House: three-of-a-Kind plus a pair will beat a Flush

Four-of-a-Kind: Also known as “Quads,” a four-of-a-Kind hand will defeat a Flush (as well as a Full House) at showdown

Straight Flush: A Flush in which there is an uninterrupted five-card sequence is an extremely strong hand in poker games. A Straight Flush will defeat a “simple” Flush, a Full House, Four-of-a-Kind, and almost any other possible “high” hand in poker.

Royal Flush: There is no stronger hand in Texas Hold’em, Omaha, 5-Card Stud/Draw, or 7 Card Stud than a Royal Flush. If you have A-K-Q-J-T with all cards of the same suit, then you have the absolute best hand in poker and cannot lose at showdown!

What Poker Hands Does a Flush Beat?

Although a Flush will lose to a Full House in “high” poker games, a Flush is still a strong hand.

At showdown, a Flush will beat a Straight, Three-of-a-Kind, Two Pair, One Pair, and High Card hands.

How Do I Make a Full House or Flush in Omaha?

Newcomers who have spent most of their time playing Texas Hold’em might initially find “four hole cards” to be confusing – and with good reason.

Due to the specific rules of Omaha, some very poor starting hands may look like “monsters” at first glance.

It is important to remember that – in Omaha poker – players must use exactly three cards from the community board plus precisely two cards from their own holdings.

This is why you will see Omaha players on televised shows instantly fold their face-down “Quads” or “Three-of-a-Kind” without any hesitation.

As far as Omaha Full Houses and Flushes are concerned, players cannot make a hand unless they are using three community cards and two of their four hole cards.

Player 1: 8c-8s-8d-8h
Player 2: Ts-Th-Td-2d
Player 3: Ac-Kc-Qc-Jc

Omaha Community Board Cards: Tc-9c-7c-6c-5c

Which player wins once the cards are revealed at showdown?

Let’s take a look at Player 1’s hand. Does Player 1 have Quads? Or ever better, a Ten-high Straight Flush?

No – Player 1 has a pair of Eights with T-9-7 kickers (8c-8s-Tc-9c-7c) at showdown and will lose this hand against Player 2 and/or Player 3.

How about Player 2? Does Player 2 have Quad Tens?

No – Player 2 has Three-of-a-Kind: Tens, with 9-7 kickers (Ts-Th-Tc-9c-7c) and will lose to Player 3.

So what does Player 3 have at showdown? A Royal Flush?

No – Player 3 has an Ace-high Flush: Clubs and will show down the winning hand of Ac-Kc-Tc-9c-7c.

Remember, in Omaha… three cards from the community board and two cards from each player’s face-down hole cards.

Now let’s review another sample Omaha hand to discern which players can make a Full House.

Player 1: Ac-Ad-Ts-9s
Player 2: 6c-7c-8c-9c
Player 3: 2c-2s-3s-3c

Community Board Cards: 3d-2d-As-9d-9h

How many players have Full Houses in this scenario?

Despite what a beginner might believe, Player 3 DOES have a Full House here. The best possible five-card hand that Player 3 can make (considering again: two hole cards plus three community cards) is a Full House: Threes over Nines. Or 3s-3c-3d-9d-9h.

And Player 2 has Three-of-a-Kind: Nines with Ace-Eight kickers. Or 9c-9d-9h-As-8c.

Player 1 will win this hand at showdown with a Full House: Aces over Nines. Or Ac-Ad-As-9d-9h.

Why is a Full House Ranked Higher Than a Flush in Poker?

Statistically speaking, it is “rarer” (or more difficult) for players to make a Full House in poker games like Hold’em, Draw, and Stud.

A quick check of the Wikipedia Poker Hand Rankings page shows that, in a Texas Hold’em game, the odds of a Full House being made are 37.5-to-1 – while the odds of making a Flush are 32.1-to-1.

The more difficult it is for a particular hand to be made, the more valuable it is in poker. Since a Full House appears less frequently than a Flush, and Full House will beat a Flush at showdown.

Is a Full House or Flush Possible for “Low” Poker Hands?

The value of Full Houses and Flushes are nullified for the “low” portion of poker variants such as Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, and Stud Hi/Lo.

Making a qualifying “wheel” for a low hand in these games (5-4-3-2-A) can be done regardless of whether the cards are the same suit or not. There is no penalty for “low” hand Flushes in these games.

But 2-7 Single Draw (or 2-7 Triple Draw) is different. Straights and Flushes will count AGAINST a player in 2-7 Draw games. This means that the best possible 5-card hand in 2-7 Draw poker is 7-5-4-3-2 (with no Flush).

The numerical “low” hands refer to non-repeated (non-counterfeited) cards.

Let’s look at a sample 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo hand:

Player 1: (As-Ac) Ad-Kd-Qd-9d (9h)
Player 2: (3c-2c) 4c-5c-5d-Td (6c)

At showdown, the pot will be split evenly between the winning “high” and “low” hands. If the same player has the best “high” and “low” hands, that player will win the entire pot.

Player 1 has a Full House: Aces over Nines for a “high” hand – and does not have a qualifying “Eight or Better” low hand.

Player 2 wins this pot outright (or “scoops” the pot) with a Six-high Straight Club Flush 6c-5c-4c-3c-2c and also has the best “low” hand of 6-5-4-3-2.

READ MORE: Mixed Games Poker Guide

What About Five-of-a-Kind (Jokers)?

In almost all cases, a deck’s jokers will be discarded before a hand of poker is dealt – which makes five-of-a-Kind hands impossible.

If you’re playing in a home game, there may be instances in which one or two jokers are left in the deck as “Wild” cards. In such cases, it is vitally important to be aware of the showdown hand rankings. It should be the responsibility of the host or dealer to define poker hand rankings when jokers are involved.

Players may also see five-of-a-Kind hands when playing casino-style slots such as Video Poker machines; e.g., in the “deuces wild” variant.

Again, the odds (or payouts) of five-of-a-Kind hands should be clearly communicated when jokers are (either physically or digitally) left in the deck.

When Can a Made Full House or Flush Hand Be Vulnerable?

A Full House or Flush poker hand can be exceptionally vulnerable in community card games such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha.

Here are a couple of Texas Hold’em hand examples that show how a strong “made” hand such as a Full House or Flush can be defeated at showdown.

Player 1: Ah-Kd
Player 2: 4c-4d

Community Board Cards: Jd-9d-8d-6d-2d

On the River, the community board shows a made, Jack-high Diamond Flush.

Although Player 2 can slightly improve the Flush hand that’s displayed on the board (by substituting the Four of Diamonds for the Two of Diamonds to make the best possible five-card hand), Player 2 will be beaten at showdown by Player 1’s superior King-high Diamond Flush.

Player 1: Ts-9s
Player 2: 4c-4d
Player 3: Ah-Kh
Player 4: 6d-5c

Community Board Cards: 5h-5d-5s-2d-2h

At showdown, Player 1 and Player 3 can only “play the board” and hope that they can chop the pot with a Full House: Fives over Twos.

However, Player 2 can beat the board, and will have a better hand with a Full House: Fives over Fours.

Player 4 will win this hand outright though. This is because Player 4 will show down Four-of-a-Kind: Fives with a Six kicker.

Summary: Full House and Flush in Poker

In popular poker variants such as Texas Hold’em, Full Houses and Flushes are rare enough to be thought of as a “strong hand,” but can still be bested by other superior made hands.

Learn to decipher the difference between a Full House and a Flush in poker while also remembering the specific hole card limitations in games like Omaha.

Make sure to carefully consult the rules of poker for the variant you’re playing before you begin your real money poker journey – and best of luck at the tables!

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David Huber poker author
Written By.

David Huber

David Huber has been involved in the poker industry for close to two decades: initially as a professional online poker player and later as an editor, consultant, writer, and forum manager. Known as “dhubermex” online, David’s poker-related work has been heavily published across numerous websites since 2004.

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