If you’ve participated in a few online poker tournaments, there’s a good chance you have seen a kicker in action. Sometimes the biggest rounds are decided by this one card. From a neutral point of view, a showdown between players produces some of the most exciting and tense moments in online poker. We discuss what a kicker is.
So, what is a kicker in poker? In essence, it’s the deciding factor that determines who wins and who loses in a stalemate scenario. These moments occur when two or more players are tied with the same ranked hand. For instance, in Texas Hold’em, if the community cards are a ten, ace, two, five and seven and player one holds an ace-king while player two has an ace-jack, player one would win carrying a double ace and king-high kicker. In this instance, king and jack were the two kickers.
Staying with Texas Hold’em, a vital piece of information for beginners to understand is that a winner is declared on the five strongest cards. If you want to up your game, understanding rules and principles such as these are proven ways to improve your poker skills. A kicker doesn’t dictate the outcome for a royal flush or four-of-kind; however, it becomes relevant with hands such as three-of-a-kind, double pair and a pair.
Hands that don’t utilize all five cards have space for a kicker. For example, if the community cards are a jack, eight, queen, six and three, while one player holds a jack-seven and the other a jack-king, player two would win with a king-high kicker. This is because their best five cards are king, jack, jack, queen, eight, compared to player one’s queen, jack, jack, eight, seven.
How to use a kicker in different hands
The importance of kickers varies from low to high ranking hands. For example, a high kicker is crucial to win with a pair, whereas a four-of-a-kind or royal flush can win without the help of a poker kicker. The list below demonstrates how to use a kicker in poker using each hand.
A player winning on a high card occurs when neither player has a pair or better. This means a strong kicker is vital in order to be successful in these low-scoring rounds. So, combining your hand and the five community cards dealt by the dealer, you drop the two weakest cards to make up the five strongest.
An example of where a high card kicker comes into play, is when the community cards are an ace, jack, nine, eight and seven, while two players have a queen-four and five-four. The player holding the queen kicker would be the victor.
A one pair is when a player’s card matches one of the community cards such as an ace-ace. A kicker would be the card not in use. For example, if both players are holding a double king, one has an ace kicker and the other an eight, the ace would win because it’s the highest-ranking card.
A kicker only comes into effect during a two pair scenario when you don’t make two pairs with both your hole cards – for instance, if the community cards contain a pair and one of your hole card pairs with the other, such as holding a queen-king and the community cards are ten, ten, queen, seven, five.
Using a kicker, the winner is declared in the same way as a pair would be. This means the winner is decided on who has the highest-ranking kicker even though kickers are sometimes not strong enough to make the top five cards. If this occurs to both players, the pot is split.
Straight, flush and full house
Because all five cards are used to make up these hands, it’s not possible for a kicker to influence the outcome of the round.
A kicker will only be relevant if the four-of-a-kind appears on the board. If this happens it means everyone is entitled to the hand, so the winner is decided on who has the strongest kicker. The same applies to every hand.
Straight flush and royal flush
Because all five cards are being used to achieve these hands, it’s not possible for a kicker to influence the outcome of the round.
Do suits matter when counting kickers?
The only instance when a winning kicker depends on the suit is if a flush has appeared. Apart from that, it holds no weight in deciding the result. It’s crucial to be aware of these rules when playing, otherwise you risk losing big pots to unknown laws, which can be super frustrating. Furthermore, utilizing resources for upping your poker game is a marvelous way to ensure you’re always improving.
Test your skills on Borgata Online
After getting to grips with understanding ‘what is a kicker’, it’s time to start playing. Borgata Online is regarded as one of the best online poker sites and boasts a range of poker games – from Texas Hold’em to Omaha and 7-Card Stud. Register today and test your skills.