What is a Full House in Poker? A Beginner’s Guide to Poker Hand Rankings

Don’t guess your poker hand. Know full house definition, hand rankings, and real-life examples.

How much do you know about poker hand rankings? Could you explain a full house to someone who doesn’t play poker? Full house, full boat, and full barn! How many names does one hand have? And what is a full house in poker? These questions might be running through your mind as you try to improve your game.

If you love to play poker, you probably already have an open pack of cards. But if you have never played, chances are, you don’t have the foggiest idea of what the cards that make full house in pokercards mean or what they are worth. The answer to all these questions lies in understanding how the full house works within the game.

what is full house in poker beginners guide

What is a Full House in Poker – The History, Name, and Definition

Poker is a highly social game played by millions around the world. Along with a knack for fun and creativity, a poker player must also possess some good ol’ Texas Hold’em know-how to be considered a reputable player.

Why Do They Call it a Full House?

Nevertheless, let’s start with why they call it a full house anyway? The origins of poker have a long history. Still, it’s more commonly known to develop with French colonists who brought a game of Poque to settlements across North America, including the New Orleans region. However, the English-speaking residents adopted the game into five cards for each player and a 52-card deck.

It later spread throughout the country and became a staple game of the Wild West during the 1870s, when the phrase for a poker hand was full hand. The latest poker version was Texas Hold ’em, which flourished during the 1970s in Las Vegas and was popularized by the World Series of Poker. By that time, the poker hand was called a full house.

Today, that same hand is called a full boat. But, its transformation remains a mystery. There are assumptions about the full hand phrase, as it uses all five cards and its analogy to the number of fingers on the hand. Another implication suggests that it comes from the fact that five cards are complete or “full of” a particular card face. Whichever the reason behind the name, it’s far from being a weak hand.

What Makes up a Full House in Poker?

A full house is a five-card hand with three cards of the same kind and another pair. For instance, if you have a hand with A♠, A♥, A♣, K♠, and K♥, it is called “aces full of kings,” which means you have three aces and two kings. As the hand consists of three dominant cards and two kickers, the name is “full of” for each.

The full house is often the winning hand in poker, not because of its rank but rather the math. There are, in total, 3,744 ways to make a full house in a standard deck of 52 cards. For comparison, with the same deck, there are 10,200 ways to make a straight deck which is made of five cards of any suit, of course, in sequential order. Straight is two ranks lower than a full house. In other words, a full house is rarer than a straight. In the same manner, higher-ranking hands are rarer than a full house.

Which full house is higher in poker?

The highest ranking full house or the best one is aces full of kings, which we previously mentioned (A♠, A♥, A♣, K♠, K♥). It’s important to remember that the value of the first three cards wins or loses the game. The full house is somewhat of a transition between the lower-ranking hands and the rare ones, such as flush and four-of-a-kind.

cards that make full house in poker

What if two players have a full house?

As strong as a full house might be, it is not unbeatable. In poker rules, the first three cards are dominant, and their value is more important than the other two (the kickers). That means that the player with higher ranking cards wins.


For instance, you can see in a video during the match Tony G had five full of sixes (5♣, 5♠, 5♥, 6♣, 6♠), , and Vanessa Rousso won having aces full of fives (A♠, A♥, A♣, 5♥,5♣). Needless to say, it’s one of the most memorable moments in poker.

Is Full House the best poker hand?

The full house is among the stronger poker hands. However, it is not the highest-ranking one. As a third-ranking hand, a full house is below a flush and four of a kind. So, if you are looking at what beats Full House it:


  • Royal and Straight Flush. These are rarer than full house and the highest ranking hands. A royal flush comprises a straight from ten to ace and all five cards from the same suit. For example, 10♠, J♠, Q♠, K♠, A♠. On the other hand, a straight flush is made up of any straight while all five cards are of the same suit. For instance: 7♦, 8♦, 9♦, 10♦, J♦.


  • Four of a Kind. Any four cards of the same value and one other card. As an illustration, let’s take: J♦, J♣, J♥, J♠, and A♣. These are the cards Merson had at the final table in WSOP in 2015. He played against Nguyen, who went all in with aces full of jacks.


What Poker Hands Does a Full House Outperform?

Although the full house is not the best hand you can get, there were plenty of victories won by the three and two mixes. However, it depends on the poker variant you are playing. For instance, in No-limit Hold’em, you cannot make a full house unless a pair is on the table.


But you can still win lower-ranking hands, which are more common than a full house:


Flush: Consists of any five cards of the same suit that are not consecutive.


Straight: Any five cards of different suits that are consecutive.


Three of a kind: Any of the three cards of the same value.


Two Pair: Any pair of cards with the same value with another pair of the same rank.


One Pair: Any pair of the same value.


High Card: Any card with the highest value among five cards of differing ranks.



Essentially, the full house ranks fourth among all possible hands in poker. If you are wondering whether you can beat a smaller full house with a higher full house, the answer is yes. If one player has a pair of jacks and another has three kings, the player with a couple of jacks will still lose.


That is because the three-of-a-kind is ranked higher in poker than an ordinary pair, regardless of the value of each card in hand. So when two players have different sized and differently valued full hands, only then will this rule apply and the one with a higher valued full hand wins.


The full house is a great hand to have and can help you win big in poker. However, it is only one of many possible combinations that you can use to succeed at your favorite card game. If you want to learn more about poker, check out a Tony G blog!


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