There has been some discussion about how "who wins this hand" questions should be handled and there doesn't appear to be any clear agreement or ruling on what the site's stance is on these kinds of questions.

I wonder, if we were to decide that these kinds of questions are indeed off-topic for this site and close them as dupes of this question or simply as off-topic, what is the purpose of the tag? Its description specifically states:

The skill of determining which hand beats another hand.

If this is a legitimate tag, then surely questions which ask whether one hand beats another are also valid? If not, what kind of questions do people expect to see with this tag?

  • With close votes we do not particularly need a consensus on what is considered on topic, although a discussion is always nice. We can all vote to close, and me I think these questions about what beat what should be handled politely and referred to the five card rule post and closed.
    – Jon Mod
    Jan 4, 2017 at 11:28
  • I thought about that tag a bit, and it does invite these kind of questions, so I suggested an edit making it in reference to reading tells and players, which I think is what the tag may have originally meant to have been about.
    – Jon Mod
    Mar 25, 2017 at 0:01

2 Answers 2


The tag is by juxtaposition implying the skill of knowing which hands currently in play but not actually revealed, are likely to be winning. It is about reading a player's hand as held and played during the hand, before you've seen the cards open, to determine which/whether that player is ahead or behind and by how far.

These are reasonably common, for example "I had this hand, this is the action, what did villain probably have/why was villain playing like this if I know they didn't have [hand XY]?".

The "who wins with these hands on this board?" questions should not be closed as off-topic. They're repeating an existing question that is on-topic, so closing as duplicate is the correct option.

So far Question 6680 "How to determine the winning hands in poker" has two excellent answers which explain everything necessary for a "who wins with these hands on this board?" question, and link to a number of good additional resources.

I flag every new question of that type as duplicate of 6680, and the majority are closed before someone is silly enough to waste time answering them and thereby encourage users to do it again instead of reading the answers to 6680, learning the rules and practising hand-reck.

  • I thought that hand-reading was as you describe in your first few sentences (it seems to have been used this way based on the questions which feature it, although it has no supporting definition) - whereas reading-hands seems to be quite clear that it relates to "determining which hand beats another hand" without any additional context. If the intention of reading-hands is synonymous with hand-reading, perhaps its usage guidance for these tags could benefit from being updated?
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 3, 2017 at 12:11
  • Now I wonder if reading-hands is meant to refer to hand recognition, as in reading what the of poker hand a player has, given hole cards and/or a board, too. Identifying the tags that read similarly and then deciding what each one will be used for, should perhaps happen before rewriting guidance. A lot of tags just get created without description, so the original usage and intent can be subsumed io what someone else does later, and then everything becomes mixed up.
    – Nij
    Jan 3, 2017 at 13:17
  • Yes, that's exactly what my interpretation of the purpose of the reading-hands tag is - identifying a player's best 5 card card hand from complete information about their holding and any community cards, then (crucially) comparing those best 5 card hands for multiple players to determine a winner, which is exactly the subject of all of these "which hand wins?" questions. I don't disagree that we can close them as duplicates as you have described (I would argue whether we should), but in any case it seems the tags around this could do with being clarified.
    – 3N1GM4
    Jan 3, 2017 at 14:11

The skill of determining which hand beats another hand.

This about the skill.

If it was just determine which hand beats another the proper wording would be

Determine which hand beats another hand.

The term is commonly used in poker analysis to mean reading the strength of an opponents hand.

So people that don't even know which hand wins use the reading-hands tag. That does not change generally accepted definition of reading hands.

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