Explanation of Full House

We make a full house when we hold both a pair and three of a kind as part of the same 5 card hand.

For example, in Hold’em:

Board: AJJQ5

Hand 1: AJ
Hand 2: QQ

In this example both hand 1 and hand 2 make full houses. The strength of a full house is determined by the rank of the trips (three of a kind) component. Hand 1 makes three Jacks while hand 2 makes three Queens. Hand 2 hence comes off the victor in this match up. Full houses are commonly described using the following terminology -

Hand 1: Jacks full of Aces
Hand 2: Queens full of Jacks

Note that full houses are described by their trips component first since this is the most important in gauging their strength. The pair component of a full house need only be consulted if it ties for the trips component. 

Board: JJTT5

Hand 1: AJ
Hand 2: AT

In this example both players again make a full house, but this time only using one of their hole-cards. Like other Hold’em hands, the relative strength is often greatly decreased when using only one hole-card to formulate the final 5-card holding. Although hand 2 makes the full house, he should be very careful about domination possibilities since any Jack makes a higher full house. To differentiate between nut and non-nut full houses the terms “overfull” and “underfull” are used. Here hand 1 makes the overfull with his Jx while hand 2 makes the underfull with his Tx.

In situations where two players have the same full house they will always tie. Given that constructing the full house requires exactly 5 cards, there is no room for tie-breaking based on kickers.

Example of Full House used in a sentence -> (Hold’em)We had a set of Sevens on the turn but made the full house when the King paired on the river.

How to Use Full House as Part of Your Poker Strategy 

Full houses should often be fastplayed in Hold’em, they are often more vulnerable than they might appear. For example imagine we hold 77 on a 788 textures. There are a number of bad things that can happen if we give away cheap of free card unnecessarily. Firstly our opponent could catch a higher full house with his pocket-pair. Even though this is not especially likely, there will often be overcards on the turn and it will be hard for us to know which of those our opponent connects with. The biggest disaster occurs if an Eight rolls off, since any pocket pair now out-draws us to a better full house. Our full house essentially turns into a pair of sevens in terms of relative strength.

Despite vulnerabilities, full houses are extremely strong hands in Hold’em, especially when formulated with two hole-cards. Two-card full houses are nearly always going to be good enough to play for stacks with. The only time a full house should be played with extreme caution is when we make the underfull using one of our hole-cards. If too many chips get funnelled into the pot, we’ll find ourselves repeatedly isolated against the overfull.

Full house strategy in Omaha is somewhat more nuanced since the value of the side cards must be taken into account when determining the relative strength of a full house. For example, imagine the following:

Board: JQQ

Hand 1: JQKA
Hand 2: 78QJ

Both players make the nut full house (Queens full of Jacks) but we are still on the flop and hand 1 has excellent redraw possibilities to the higher full house. Any Ace or King on the turn gives hand 1 the better full house.

In terms of equity matchups, hand 2 only has 36.3% pot-equity in this situation despite holding the absolute nuts. It’s hence useful to realise that the “nuts” is not always the nuts in Omaha.

See Also 

High Hand, Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Boat, Quads, Straight Flush, Royal Flush, Hold’em, Omaha, Counterfeit, Effective Stacks

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