A kicker is used to determine the winner of a hand when two or more players have the same rank of hand. If both players, after the river is dealt, have a pair of fives, the winner would be decided by the next highest card that each player has (could be in hand or on the board - whichever is highest). If player A has A-5 in hand and player B has K-5 and the board read 2-3-5-10-J, both players would have a pair of 5's. A would win as he would have a pair of 5's with an ace kicker - player B would have the king kicker.
Looking at another example, player A makes 10-10-6-3-4 and Player B 10-10-J-5-2 - player B would win with a pair of 10's with a Jack kicker. Although both player have a pair of 10's, player A only has a 6 high kicker which is beaten by the Jack.
Kickers are used in community card games such as Texas Holdem and Omaha, and also Draw poker games and where a player might retain an ace in the hope that it will either pair or it will come into play as an ace kicker (which is the best kicker card to have).
Selecting Starting Requirements
The way similar hands are separated out in poker emphasizes the need for a solid starting hand strategy. The reason players tend to stay away from rag aces where as hands like Ak, AQ and AJ are so playable is down to the role the kicker card plays. When an ace hits the board and you're staring down at A-2, you are beaten by any other player with an ace - and so even hitting your ace, it might not be good enough. Not a profitable spot to continually see yourself in.
Important Beginners Guides..
Read this no nonsense guide on how to play poker - covering the basics and game play. Perfect for those starting out.
A no nonsense guide on how to play poker. Ideal for beginners looking to learn how to play Texas Hold'em.
Check out this set of rules. It's as close to universal as you will get! Most card rooms use a variation of these.
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