Poker Suits Rankings & Order – When Does It Matter?

poker suit rankings

8 minutes

Last Updated: August 24, 2023

Poker is always played with a standardized deck of cards. Whether you are playing with a full or a short deck, there are always exactly four suits in play.

The relevance of poker suits is usually quite low, as most poker games don’t allow for too many situations in which poker suit rankings could come up as a decisive factor in determining the winner.

However, poker suit order does exist, and there is a very specific way in which suits are ranked in this and other games.

So what is the highest suit in poker and when does it come into play? Keep reading and find out exactly how poker suit rankings work and why they matter.

Poker Suit Rankings Explained

While poker suits are all equally represented in the game of poker, there was a need to determine the value of each suit for some very particular situations in some poker games.

To make things simple, card players agreed to use the alphabetic order of suits, and rank them in the following way, from strongest to the weakest:

  • Spades
  • Hearts
  • Diamonds
  • Clubs

Whenever you open a new deck of cards, you will usually notice the Ace of spades is the first card you see through the foil. That’s because it is technically the most valuable card in the deck.

However, these poker suit rankings are not universal across the world. Other nations and languages use different rankings, often in accordance with their pronunciation of the words.

Yet, when it comes to poker suit rankings in particular, most big poker tournaments and poker rooms in general accept the American suit rankings, where Spades are the strongest and Clubs are the weakest suit.

When Do Poker Suit Rankings Matter?

suit order in poker

In truth, poker suit rankings don’t really matter all too much, as they don’t apply in most situations in real games.

However, there are several situations in different poker games where poker suit rankings do come into play and are actually important.

Some of these situations include:

  • Determining the Dealer Button
  • Posting the Bring-In
  • Splitting Pots

In these situations, the dealer might be forced to use the card suits to determine whose card or hand is the strongest and which way the decision will go.

So, if you are wondering how exactly order of suits in poker comes into play in these scenarios, keep reading and find out.

Determining the Dealer Button

Determining the dealer button in any poker game is the first situation in which poker suit rankings make a difference.

When starting a poker tournament or cash game, the dealer will randomly choose one of the players at the table to be the dealer for the first hand.

This is done by dealing a single card to every player at the table, with the player who receives the highest card becoming the dealer.

While this selection is not extremely important, players often believe that being selected as the dealer for the first hand means it’s their lucky day.

In either case, there are many times when multiple players get dealt an Ace, or any other high card of the same rank, in which case the tie needs to be broken.

In these situations, the dealer will use the poker suit order to decide which seat receives the button, with Spades having advantage over all other suits, followed by hearts, etc.

It is worth noting that I have played in poker rooms where the first Ace dealt immediately receives the button. This is not the rule in any major poker tour or poker room in the world, so remember that the suit ranking will be used to break all ties in such situations.

Posting the Bring-In

poker suit order

The next scenario in which poker suit rankings are used to determine who “wins” is in Stud games, where one player at the table must post the bring-in.

Unlike games like Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha, where blinds are fixed, the bring-in in Stud games is posted by the player showing the worst possible card for the game in play.

In Seven Card Stud, for instance, any player showing a Deuce will be forced to post the bring-in ahead of all other players, while in Razz a player holding the only Ace will be the one posting the bring-in.

This is all very simple until multiple players are dealt the same low or high card, and a tie needs to be broken. In this scenario, poker suits rank comes into play.

Just like in the previous scenario, the dealer will use the predefined rankings to decide which card wins, with the player holding the card in Spades having advantage over the one holding the Heart, etc.

Splitting Pots

Rules for pot splitting in poker are quite simple. If two players end up having the same hand at the end of a poker hand, they will receive exactly one half of the pot each. The same goes for splitting pots multi-way, with all players sharing the same percentage of the pot.

However, there are scenarios in which the pot is uneven and cannot be split exactly in half, as there is no chip in play that would allow for it.

For instance, in a $5/10 game, a pot of $175 should be split with each player receiving $87.5. However, in some casinos, there may be no chip lower than $5 in play, which means one player must receive $90, and the other $85.

In a situation like this, the dealer will once again use the same rule. The player whose cards include the highest poker suit rankings will receive the slightly bigger portion of the pot.

Once again, the difference that suit rankings make is very slight, as this parameter is generally not used to make any big decisions in any of the poker games.

When Do Poker Suit Rankings Not Matter?

Now that I have explained the few rare cases in which the order of suits in poker makes a difference, let’s talk about the much more important situations in which they don’t matter, but some players think they do.

Not only are there misconceptions about these poker rules among players, but I have even seen sources online spreading misinformation about when poker suit rankings come into play.

So, here are some of the most important cases in which suit rankings won’t make any difference and when you should not be concerned about them.

Flush Over Flush in Stud and Draw Games

poker suits rank

Unlike Texas Hold’em, Stud and Draw poker games allow for players to have flushes in different suits, as there are no community cards, and each player works with their own set of cards.

There is a common misconception among players that a Spade flush beats other flushes, or that a Diamond flush is stronger than a Club flush.

However, the truth is that poker suit rankings do not come into play in these scenarios. Flushes, straight flushes, and royal flushes, all split the pot with other hands of same value.

So, if you hold a royal flush in Clubs, don’t be concerned about someone having a “better” royal flush, as you will simply split the pot with any other player who might hold a royal flush in another suit.

Split Pots in Big Bet Games

Big bet games like Texas Hold’em and PLO don’t allow for two players to have a flush in a different suit, but there are still scenarios in which confusion can happen.

For instance, you might end up having the same two pair as another player and holding the same kicker in different suits.

In this situation, someone might cry about poker suit rankings and try to convince the dealer to award them the pot.

By the widely accepted rules of poker, however, this rule is not used, and the pot is split in all such situations regardless of the suit of either player’s kicker.

Are Poker Suit Rankings Actually Important?

The truth that every poker player should know is that poker suit rankings matter very little, and that suits matter a lot more in other card games than poker.

In poker, the order or suits is only used in a few very specific scenarios, which I have outlined in this article, and which don’t really impact the overall game too much.

In all important in-game situations, such as when split pots occur, suit rankings are not considered as one of the key factors. Card ranks alone will decide who wins the pot or when the pot is split among multiple players.

Keep this knowledge with you and remember it the next time someone at the local card club starts crying about a pot they believe they should have won in one of the situations I mentioned above.

Poker Suits Rankings FAQ

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