Poker is one of the most popular card games. Although it can be relatively easy to learn, it is incredibly hard to master. It is also one of the card games with what can seem like a lot of rules and bet strategies that may quickly be overwhelming if you are a beginner.
But, like everything in life, having a little more information and learning can make it easier to understand. One of the things you may not be too familiar with in poker is known as a kicker.
If you are wondering what a kicker is when it comes into play and everything in between, you have come to the right place. In this Wizard Slots blog post, we will explore all things kicker in poker.
What Is A Kicker In Poker?
Simply put, a kicker is a card in poker used to break a tie if more than one player has the same card rank in a showdown. It is particularly popular in Hold'em poker games but can also be applied in other poker games such as Omaha.
By using a kicker, players at the table are able to determine which hand has a better standing if both hands are of the same rank. For example, suppose you and your opponent each have a pair of queens. Only one person can be the winner or have a higher ranking hand so the table would look at your next highest ranking cards.
Let's say you have a queen (Q) and a 10, but your opponent has Q and 6. Your 10 card would be the kicker because it outranks the 6. So, what happens if both of your next highest ranking cards are the same, say you both have 10s? Then, you would have to split the pot.
When Does A Kicker Come Into Play?
In poker games such as Texas Hold 'em, a kicker comes into play if it is higher than one of the cards on the board. That means if both the players have a tie but don't have high-ranking cards on their cards but in the community cards, then the tie would remain, and they would split the pot into equal parts.
Other situations where a kicker would not apply, include if a player holds the hands below:
- Royal Flush: A royal flush is the highest possible hand in poker and consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace of the same suit. In this case, no card would be higher than any of these, so the kicker would not apply.
- Full House: If you have a full house, you have three of a kind and a pair of hands. However, the highest three of a kind will determine the winner, and the pair won't matter. So, the best thing to do in this case would be to split the pot.
- Straight: It is impossible to have a kicker in a straight because a straight hand has five cards in numerical order, regardless of their suit. Let's say your Straight has the highest possible cards: a 10, Jack, Queen, King, and Ace. In this case, a kicker wouldn't be applicable.
- Straight Flush: A straight flush also consists of five cards in order of the same suit, so the same principle with Straight applies. Therefore, a kicker cannot apply.
What Is The Highest Kicker In Poker?
The highest kicker in poker would be the highest-ranking card in hand, such as an Ace. So, the answer to the question would be the Ace. Another nifty thing about the Ace is that it can also be used as a low card.
Does The Kicker Have To Be In Your Hand?
No, the kicker does not have to be in your hand to apply, as it can be a part of your cards, but it does not make a hand. For perspective, a poker hand is made up of a group of cards that rank, for example, a Flush.
So, let's say you have a pair hand (two cards), and your opponent has the same ranking pair too, but you both have an extra third card. That card is not part of the hand and can be used as a kicker.
However, if you are asking whether or not a kicker has to be physical in your literal hands, then the answer is yes. Therefore, it cannot be part of the community cards.
Is There A Second Kicker In Poker?
No, there is only one kicker in poker. Therefore, if two or more players have the same hand, only one next highest ranking card will count as the kicker; if none of the players have high-ranking cards after their hand or they have the same high-ranking cards, the pot will be split.
In conclusion, while the concept of a kicker in poker may seem confusing at first, it can be a reasonably straightforward concept to grasp. Furthermore, once you understand poker hand rankings, it is much easier to understand the concept of a kicker and how it works or when it applies or does not apply.