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The Three-of-a-Kind Hand in Poker

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Three-of-a-Kind is sixth on the list of poker hand rankings. It consists of 3 cards of the same rank or denomination.

The words “Three of a Kind” should immediately have you thinking that it consists of some combination of 3 cards – this is what makes it a very easy hand to recognise. However, it can get a little confusing when it comes to distinguishing between a Set and Trips, which are both types of 3-of-a-Kind hands.

Let’s look at the definition of a Set and then what’s commonly referred to as Trips:

A Set is when you have a pair in your hand, like 99♣, matched with another 9 on the board.

Trips happen when there is a pair on the board, like 10105♠, and you hold another 10♣ in your starting hand.

Here are a few examples of 3-of-a-Kind hands:

KK♣K♠AJ♠

101010♠32♦

When rating one 3-of-a-Kind hand over the next, it’s the hand rank or denomination that’s important. In that vein, the best 3-of-a-Kind hand is 3 Aces, whether that’s a Set of Aces or Trip Aces.

How Does a 3-of-a-Kind Hand Rank?

In a 52-card deck, there are 54,912 possible 3-of-a-Kind hand combinations and 858 distinct ranks of 3-of-a-Kind hands. Each Three-of-a-Kind is rated by its 3 cards of the same rank, then by rank of its first kicker and then the second kicker comes into play.

Here are a few more examples of 3-of-a-Kind hands:

QQQ♠A♠J♠

Q♠QQ♣A♣10

QQ♣QA4

Can you tell which hand ranks highest?

Keep in mind that the suits are irrelevant and that the kickers determine which 3-of-a-Kind hand is best.

How Does a 3-of-a-Kind Hand Match Up?

Three-of-a-Kind is the 6th best possible hand in the poker hand ranking system. The Straight ranks directly above it, with the best Straight being ace-high, also known as “Broadway”.

There are only 3 hands that rank beneath 3-of-a-Kind. The hand that ranks directly under a 3-of-a-Kind is Two Pair. The best Two Pair hand is Aces and Kings with a Queen kicker.

Hold'em Probabilities      
Pre-flop: 2.1128% (based on 5 cards randomly drawn from a full 52-card deck)  
Flop: 11.8% (when holding a pocket pair)  
Turn: 4.26% (when holding a pocket pair)  
River: 4.35% (when holding a pocket pair)
Pot Limit Omaha Probabilities      
Pre-flop: 2.1128% (based on 5 cards randomly drawn from a full 52-card deck)  
Flop: 12.59% (when holding a pocket pair)  
  21.37% (when holding a two pair)  
Turn: 4.44% (when holding a pocket pair)  
  8.89% (when holding a two pair)  
River: 4.55% (when holding a pocket pair)  
  9.09% (when holding a two pair)

Now that you’ve got Three-of-a-Kind all sorted, we’ll move on to the next hand on the list. It’s called Two Pair.

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