A high card hand consists of five cards that don’t make a pair or any other kind of made hand. The lowest-ranking hand in the poker hand rankings, high card hands can only beat other high card hands.
Ace-high represents the strongest high card hand, while the lowest possible five-card high card hand is six-high. An example of a high card hand looks like this:
In a battle between two or more high card hands, the hand with the best high card wins. For example, A♠T♥8♦4♣2♣ beats K♠T♠8♥4♦2♥, as ace-high is stronger than king-high. If two high card hands go to battle at showdown and both have the same ranking top card, the second-highest card determines the winner.
How Does a High Card Hand Rank?
High card sits at the bottom of the poker hand rankings and loses to every other kind of made hand.
If you draw five random cards from a 52-card deck, you have a 50.1177% chance of ending up with just a high card hand. In other terms, about half of all five-card hands are high card hands.
A standard 52-card deck yields 1,277 distinct ways to make a high card hand. Factoring in all possible suit combinations, there are 1,302,540 ways to draw a high-card hand from the deck.
In Texas Hold’em, you’re tasked with making the best five-card hand out of seven cards. With all five community cards on the board, you have a 17.4% chance of making a high card hand (4.74-to-1 odds against). One pair and two pair hands actually occur more often than high card hands in Texas Hold’em.
Despite this fact, however, high card hands still lose to pairs, two pair, and everything else above it in the poker hand rankings.