### What is a kicker in poker, and when does it count?

A question I hear all the time from poker players new to Texas Hold’em is “what is a kicker and when does it count?” It can be quite a confusing concept to wrap your head around at first, but once you understand what a kicker is, it’s actually pretty easy.

Here’s the definition:

A kicker is a card in poker that determines the winner if two or more players have the same hand value. For example, a player with AK will outsmart an opponent’s AQ on an AJ932 board. Both players have a pair, but AK has the better 5-card hand of AAKJ9 versus AAQJ9, with the K/Q, J, and 9 counting as kickers.

An important point to keep in mind is that the best five-card hand wins in poker. Winners are usually determined by the rank of a hand (e.g., flush vs. full house or ace-high flush vs. king-high flush), but if both players have the same hand rank, a kicker must come into play to declare the winners from the losers. by making a hand of five cards.

So you may be wondering who wins in this scenario:

Think about it for a moment, and if you can’t figure it out, read the list below.

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## How to determine when a kicker is playing

Here is a list of the hands in poker and how or whether a kicker is played:

### High card:

A high card is played when neither player has a pair or better. If both players have a high card, all cards can be counted as kickers. Take your two hole cards and five community cards, start with the highest card, and compare to your opponent while ignoring the two weakest cards of the total of 7.

An example of where a high card kicker plays :

- A 9 is in your hand.
- Your opponent’s hand: A ? 5 ?
- The community cards: K ? Q ? 8 ? 2 ? 3 ?
- Your best 5 cards: A ? K ? Q ? 9 ? 8 ?
- His best 5 cards: A ? K ? Q ? 8 ? 5 ?

We ignore the 3 and the 2 on the board because they are lower than the other 5 cards.

And now let’s take this situation where one of your kickers doesn’t play :

- A 7 is in your hand.
- Opponent’s hand: A ? 5 ?
- The community cards: K ? Q ? 9 ? 8 ? 3 ?
- Your best 5 cards: A ? K ? Q ? 9 ? 8 ?
- His best 5 cards: A ? K ? Q ? 9 ? 8 ?

That is, the 5 and the 7 are both lower than the other 5 cards on the table, and therefore the pot is split.

### A few:

In one pair, a kicker is used if your second card is better than your opponent’s and the rest of the cards on the board.

- A K is the number on your hand.
- The opponent’s hand is a Q.
- The community cards: A ? T ? 7 ? 5 ? 2 ?
- Your best 5 cards: A ? A ? K ? T ? 7 ?
- His best 5 cards: A ? A ? Q ? T ? 7 ?

You have your opponent kicked out with a pair of aces and a King kicker versus a pair of aces and a Queen kicker in this case.

### Two pairs

pairsA single card kicker only plays with two pairs if you don’t make two pair with both of your hole cards. For example:

- A K is the number on your hand.
- The opponent’s hand is a Q.
- The community cards: A ? T ? 7 ? 5 ? 5 ?
- Your best 5 cards: A ? A ? 5 ? 5 ? K ?
- His best 5 cards: A ? A ? 5 ? 5 ? Q ?

The pot is split if both players have the same two pairs with both hole cards.

The winners of two pairs are determined by first determining the best, highest-ranked pair between you and your opponent, and if they are the same, comparing the second pair.

Can you now elaborate on the example from the introduction? Here’s how it works:

- A 2 is in your hand.
- The opponent’s hand is a 7
- The community cards: A ? 9 ? 9 ? J ? 4 ?
- Your best 5 cards: A ? A ? 9 ? 9 ? J ?
- His best 5 cards: A ? A ? 9 ? 9 ? J ?

Therefore, the pot is split because neither the 7 nor the 2 are played and both players have the same hand.

### Three of the same:

A kicker with three of a kind is determined in the same way as one pair. If you have AK on an AA752 board, you have the best 5 boards vs. AQ with AAAK7 vs. AAAQ7.

- A K is the number on your hand.
- The opponent’s hand is a Q.
- The community cards: A ? A ? 7 ? 5 ? 2 ?
- Your best 5 cards: A ? A ? A ? K ? 7 ?
- His best 5 cards: A ? A ? A ? Q ? 7 ?

You have the best five cards in this scenario because the K plays after the three aces.

Note the difference between a regular three of a kind and a set: a set is when you make three of a kind using the two hole cards, while a regular three of a kind is when you have three of a kind using only one of your hole cards.

Take this example of 99 on an A9642 board. You have three of a kind (or sets) on this board, but it’s impossible for anyone else to also have 99.

So there are no kickers when you have a set, as it is impossible for your opponent to have three cards of the same rank, but a kicker can count for a regular three of a kind using only one of your hole cards.

### Straight ahead:

There is no straight kicker because a straight is made with five cards.

### to rinse:

As with a straight, there can be no kickers with flushes because these hands require the five cards.

### Full house:

There are no kickers with a full house. Hands are ranked in the same way as two pairs.

First, the winner is the player with the best three of a kind; if both players have the same three of a kind, the winner is the player with the best pair.If both players have the same three of a kind and the same pair, the hand is always split.

### Carre:

A kicker does not play with a four of a kind (quads) unless the four of a kind is on the board.

- A 5 is in your hand.
- Hand opposition: K, J,
- The community cards: Q ? Q ? Q ? Q ? 4 ?
- Your best 5 cards: Q ? Q ? Q ? Q ? A ?
- His top five cards are: Q Q Q K

You win this hand if your ace kicker player plays after the four queens.

### Straightflush/Royal Flush:

Kickers, like straights and flushes, do not count because a straight or royal flush requires five cards.

Here’s a summary of when kickers do and don’t count in poker:

Handtype | Does a kicker count? |
---|---|

Ace high | ?? Yes |

A few | ?? Yes |

Two pairs | ?? Yes |

Three of the same | ?? Yes |

Straight ahead | ? Nee |

Flush | ? Nee |

Full house | ? Nee |

Carre | ?? Yes |

Fast forward | ? Nee |

Royal Flush | ? Nee |

## When a kicker doesn’t play

We have already mentioned when a kicker does not play, for example in a straight, flush, or full house. However, a kicker also does not determine the winner if you and your opponent have the same hand, for example, A5 against A5.

A kicker also does not determine the best hand if there are already better kickers on the board.

For example, if you have A4 and your opponent has A3 on an AK762 board, then the best five cards for both opponents will be AAK76, and the kicker will not be included in the hand. Therefore, the pot is split between the two players, even though we have a better hole card than our opponent.

Kickers can also be counterfeited. If you have a hand of A5 on an AQT2 board, any card higher than a 5 on the river means your kicker is fake and cannot be played. For example, if the river were a 7, the best five cards would be AAQT7.

## When is a kicker important?

A kicker most often comes into play when you have a high card or a single pair.

However, the best hand you can get with a kicker is AK, because if your opponent has an Ace or King in his hand, you will overkick him and be a heavy favourite to win the hand (about 75% favourite).

AK always makes the top pair, which is the best hand you can make.

Because players play high-rank hands most often, kickers are most important when you have a high card. Therefore, it is not recommended to play weak ace hands (e.g., A2 or A3) often ( see poker positio ).

A2 makes top pair bottom kicker on an ace-high board (e.g., AQ753) and is a significantly weaker hand than top pair top kicker.

If you have the top pair and the bottom kicker on an ace-high board, it’s very likely you’ll be up against another ace with a better kicker (or better) if a lot of money goes into the pot.

Getting overkicked is one of the most common poker mistakes I have to watch out for, so be sure to think hard about your kicker next time you’re at the table!

## Related Questions

Do colours matter when counting kickers?

Kickers do not depend on suits, and suits should not be taken into account in determining the winner of the hand, except when a flush is possible.

Is the kicker important in three of a kind?

Yes, a kicker is counted with three of a kind in the same way as a single pair.

Does the kicker matter on a straight or flush?

No, a kicker doesn’t matter on a straight or flush, as the best 5-card hand consists of the flush or straight cards. In this case, you can resort to whoever has the highest straight or flush.