In poker, four Aces is a very strong hand, but it can still be beaten by a few rarer hands. The main hands that can beat four Aces (also known as four-of-a-kind Aces or quads Aces) are:
- Straight flush
- Higher four-of-a-kind
- Royal flush
Let’s look at each of these hands in more detail and see why they can overpower four Aces in poker.
A straight flush is a five card hand with consecutive cards all of the same suit. For example, the Ten, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of hearts is a straight flush.
The key thing about a straight flush is that it is both a straight (five consecutive ranked cards) and a flush (five cards of the same suit). Having both a straight and a flush together in one hand is very rare, which is why a straight flush can beat four Aces.
In fact, any straight flush will beat four Aces, even a lower ranked straight flush like 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 of the same suit. This is because a straight flush is the highest possible hand ranking in standard poker.
While four Aces is a strong four-of-a-kind hand, it can still be beaten by a higher ranked four-of-a-kind. The only hands that qualify are four Kings, four Queens, and four Jacks.
For example, if an opponent had four K’s and you had four A’s, their hand would win. A four-of-a-kind hand is ranked first by the rank of the four cards, then by the kicker card.
So Kings full beats Aces full because the four Kings outrank the four Aces. The kicker card only comes into play if two players have the same four-of-a-kind, in which case the player with the higher kicker wins.
The only hand that definitively beats four Aces is a Royal Flush. A Royal Flush is the best possible straight flush, Ten through Ace all of the same suit.
Since a straight flush already beats four Aces, it follows that the best version of a straight flush, a Royal Flush, is unbeatable. The odds of being dealt a Royal Flush are 1 in 649,740 so it is exceptionally rare.
But in the unlikely event an opponent held a Royal Flush, it would defeat four Aces every time in standard poker.
Key Points Why These Hands Beat Four Aces
To summarize the key reasons why these three hands can overpower four Aces in poker:
- A straight flush beats four-of-a-kind because a straight flush is the highest possible hand ranking.
- Higher ranked four-of-a-kind beats lower ranked four Aces because the actual rank of the four cards matters.
- A royal flush beats four Aces because it is the best version of a straight flush.
While four Aces is an exceptionally strong hand in poker, the game would be boring if it was completely unbeatable. Having these rare hand possibilities keeps games exciting and introduces an element of skill in poker.
Probability of Being Dealt Specific Hands
To put the odds of getting these hands that can beat four Aces into perspective, here is a table comparing the probabilities:
|Four Aces||1 in 4,165|
|Royal Flush||1 in 649,740|
|Straight Flush||1 in 72,192|
|Four-of-a-Kind||1 in 4,165|
As you can see, four Aces is a relatively common poker hand compared to a Royal or straight flush. But the probabilities depend on the number of players, cards seen, etc.
Still, this helps explain why four Aces gets beat every so often – it is simply more likely to occur than the hands that can beat it.
Probability Comparison Discussion
Some key points about the probability comparison:
- Royal flush is by far the most unlikely hand, which matches the fact that it is unbeatable.
- Straight flush is around 10 times less likely than four-of-a-kind.
- Four Kings, Queens or Jacks have the same odds as four Aces since it depends only on getting four-of-a-kind.
- As more cards are dealt, the probabilities change. For example, if you hold four Aces already, the chances of a Royal Flush go way down.
So while four Aces can be beaten, you can see why it is a powerhouse hand – the odds of making those few hands that can beat it are astronomically low by comparison.
Tips for Playing Four Aces
If you are lucky enough to be dealt four Aces in a poker game, here are some tips for getting maximum value:
- Slow play – don’t bet too aggressively early so you can extract more bets when opponents have worse hands.
- Watch for signs of a straight or flush draw – these are the biggest dangers to four Aces.
- Consider the number of opponents – the more players, the more likely one has a hand that can beat quads.
- Beware of higher pocket pairs – someone with Kings or Queens is more likely to have the higher four-of-a-kind than usual.
Here are a couple example scenarios and approaches for playing four Aces:
1. Heads-up game: You have four Aces pre-flop. You can raise moderately, then go all in after the flop since it’s unlikely your opponent has a Royal Flush.
2. Full table: You have Aces full after the flop. Bet cautiously and watch for big raises signalling a flush or straight draw. Be prepared to fold if an opponent goes all in.
Playing Tips Discussion
The main idea is to maximize value from four Aces while minimizing risk:
- Play more cautiously when there are more opponents since the odds of your hand being beaten go up.
- Slow playing is good for maximizing profit against weaker hands.
- Watch community cards closely – be wary when 3 suited cards or connected cards appear.
- Have a clear idea of odds and opponents’ ranges to make optimal decisions.
While a very strong hand, you still need good judgement to get the most from four Aces against various opponents and board textures.
Famous Hands Where Aces Got Beaten
While rare, there are some famous poker hands where someone’s four Aces got cracked by an even better hand:
Stu Ungar vs. Mansour Matloubi (1990 WSOP Main Event)
Stu Ungar, holder of the most WSOP Main Event titles, had Aces full against Mansour’s Four-of-a-kind. But Mansour’s hand was Four-of-a-kind Tens, beating Stu’s Aces to win the tournament.
Scotty Nguyen vs. Kevin McBride (1998 WSOP Main Event)
Scotty Nguyen had Four Aces but Kevin McBride had Four Tens, making a higher Four-of-a-kind to knock out the chip leader Nguyen and eventually win the tournament.
Johnny Chan vs. Erik Seidel (1988 WSOP Main Event)
Johnny Chan had Four-of-a-kind Queens versus Erik Seidel’s straight flush. Seidel’s hand held up to beat the powerhouse Queens and this famous hand was featured in the movie Rounders.
Analysis of Famous Hands
Some key points about these famous hands where Aces were beaten:
- Having quads can give a false sense of security – there’s still a chance of losing to a better hand.
- Reading opponents and board textures is key to navigating these cooler situations.
- Even the very best players like Ungar and Chan have lost big pots with Four Aces.
- It shows how vital it is to consider your opponent’s range when deciding whether to play Aces aggressively.
Despite having a hand as strong as Four Aces, playing it optimally against opponents who may have a Royal or straight flush requires great skill.
Non-Standard Games and Variants
While this article has focused on standard poker hands rankings, some games have special hands or wild cards that could also beat four of a kind Aces:
In games with wild cards, five Aces is possible and beats four-of-a-kind Aces. Other five-of-a-kind hands like five Kings would also win.
Some variants have special hands like a Wheel or Big Tiger that outrank quads Aces. For example, a Wheel could be the Five through Ace of one suit, spinning below a straight flush.
In Lowball or Razz poker, hands are ranked in reverse. So a hand like 6-4-3-2-A beats Four Aces since it makes the lowest possible hand.
Non-standard Games Analysis
The key points about how specialty game hands can beat four Aces:
- Wild cards increase the chances of better hands like Five-of-a-kind.
- Unique game hands add more higher ranked combinations.
- Reverse ranking games like Lowball value low cards, so Aces become weak.
- It’s important to know full hand rankings for each poker variant you play.
While Four Aces is a leading hand in most poker games, it pays to study the rules of any new game and know exactly which hands can conquer quads.
Challenging Four Aces
While we’ve covered the main hands that can beat Four Aces, what is the best strategy for challenging Aces full when you suspect you may be beaten? Here are some tips:
- Consider pre-flop action. Did they slowplay or check-raise with Aces early?
- Count outs for your draw if you have a straight or flush draw.
- Calculate pot odds to determine if you have the equity to call.
- Look for reads on your opponent’s behavior for signs of strength.
- Don’t bluff all-in without at least 9-10 outs or a very strong read.
You have 8-9 suited and the flop comes Q-J-10, giving you an open-ended straight draw. Your opponent bets large into you. You estimate they only have quads Aces or better about 25% of the time based on past hands. Do you call?
You have 8 outs to make the straight. And you need better than 3:1 pot odds to call, which you likely have based on the bet sizing. So you can call here profitably and evaluate the turn.
Challenging Aces Strategy Discussion
Some important concepts when trying to crack Aces full:
- Have a credible hand with sufficient equity.
- Count your outs and pot odds accurately.
- Watch for behavior tells and betting patterns.
- Be prepared to fold unless you improve or have an excellent draw.
It’s tough to beat quads but if you combine hand odds, reads, board texture analysis and contextual factors, you can make optimal decisions.
In summary, while Four Aces is an exceptionally powerful poker hand, there are still a few rare hands that can conquer it:
- Royal Flush
- Straight Flush
- Higher Four-of-a-Kind
These hands either form a stronger poker combination or have a higher rank of the same type. But the odds of making them are astronomically low compared to Four Aces.
To get maximum value with Aces full, you need to play them cleverly, watch for straight and flush draws, and be mindful of the number of opponents and their potential hand ranges.
Mastering situations where you have quads against likely inferior but drawing hands, like playing AK aggressively, is an advanced poker skill that combines hand strength knowledge with perceptive play.
While rarely seen, famous poker history is full of examples where the best players saw their Four Aces crumble against one of those elusive but decisive Royal Flushes or Straight Flushes.