The Kicker is the side card that is not used to determine a hand’s rank but is used to break ties among players with the same hand.
For example, if one player has AK and another has AQ, and the board runs out A-6-6-2-4, the player with AK wins. Both players have a pair of aces and a pair of sixes, but the player with AK has the better kicker (A-A-6-6-K beats A-A-6-6-Q). Although though both players have 2 pair, the king is the higher “kicker” than the queen.
How Do Kickers Work in Poker?
Kickers come into play when two or more players have the same hand strength at the end of a hand. The kicker is the highest card in a poker hand that’s not part of a made hand.
For example, let’s say we’re playing a game of Texas Hold’em, and the board runs out K♠T♥8♣5♥2♦. Two players go to showdown, one shows K♣Q♣, and the other shows K♦J♥.
Both players have a pair of kings in this scenario, but the player with K♣Q♣ wins the pot by virtue of having a better kicker. This player has the superior five-card hand, as K♣K♠Q♣T♥8♣ beats K♣K♦J♥T♥8♣.
When both players have the same pair, the next-highest card in the five-card hand plays as the kicker. The first player’s Q♣ outranks (or “outkicks”) the second player’s J♥.
What if Two Players Have the Same Kicker?
When two or more players hold the same hand strength and the same kicker, the next-highest card in the hand comes into play. For instance, A♥A♠K♣T♥8♣ beats A♦A♠K♣9♦8♣, as the T♥ plays as the better second kicker versus the 9♦.
In a battle of two of the exact same hands, with the exact same kickers, the pot is split between the two players.« View All Poker Terms