Explanation of Three Pair

The term “three pair” may be confusing at first, since it appears to be describing an illegal poker hand. Hands in poker are typically constructed with 5 cards, so making 3 sets of pairs (6 cards) is technically impossible.

Despite this, the term “three pair” is commonly used amongst Omaha players. So what does it mean?

Let’s see a quick Omaha hand example.

Hero’s Hand – AsTs9h8h
Board – Tc9d8s

Firstly, what does hero hold here? Technically he holds two pair, Tens and Nines with Ace kicker. Hero has actually paired the eight, but naturally it makes no difference to the hand strength since “three pair” is not a valid hand. 

However, this doesn’t mean the paired Eight is completely meaningless form a strategic point of view as we’ll discuss in the strategy application.

Example of Three Pair used in a sentence -> We 3bet preflop and somehow managed to flop three pair

How to Use Three Pair as Part of Your Poker Strategy

Although the paired eight in the above example does not contribute directly to the strength of the hand, it provides some quantifiable advantages.

1. It increases the likelihood of making a full house by the river. If the Eight on the board pairs, suddenly Hero is very thankful that he has an Eight in the hole. 

2. It reduces the likelihood that villain holds a set of Eights.

“Three pair” is hence considered a strong hand in Omaha due to its potential to improve by the river and its favourable blocker effects. The term three pairs is used most commonly in the context of flop and turn play where there are still further cards to be dealt. By the river, improvement potential of three pair is zero, although there may sometimes be some favourable card removal effects (we block sets etc). 

See Also

Omaha, Two Pair, Hand Rankings, Blocker, River

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