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What Is a Kicker in Poker?

Texas Hold'em

In poker, a “kicker” refers to an additional card used to break a tie when players have the same hand ranking. It is the highest remaining card in a player’s hand that is not part of the main hand combination. Kickers come into play in various poker variants, such as Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud, where players make the best five-card hand using a combination of their hole cards and community cards.

Why Are Kickers so Important?

The importance of kickers arises when multiple players have the same hand ranking, such as a pair, two pairs, or even a high card. In such cases, the player with the highest kicker wins the whole pot. For example, if two players both have a pair of Kings, the player with the highest-ranking kicker (the fifth card in their hand) will prevail. If both players have the same pair and kicker, the pot will be split evenly between them.

When Are Kickers Used?

Kickers are especially relevant in situations where the community cards on the board are used to determine the best hand. For instance, in Texas Hold’em, if the board shows A♣K♠Q♦J♥8♣ and Player A has K♥J♣ while Player B has K♦10♣, both players have a King-high straight. However, Player A’s Jack kicker is higher than Player B’s Ten kicker, making Player A the winner.

Moreover, when evaluating starting hands, players should consider the potential for strong kickers. Starting hands with high-ranking cards (like an Ace or King) can offer the opportunity for strong kickers if they form pairs or other hand combinations.

Upgrade Your Poker Game Today

So, now you know the answer to “what is a kicker in poker?” Overall, kickers add an extra layer of complexity and strategy to poker. Being mindful of the value of kickers can help players make better decisions and increase their chances of winning pots when their hand strength is tied with that of their opponents.