What Is a Four of a Kind in Poker?

A four-of-a-kind is a poker hand consisting of four cards of the same ranking and one additional kicker card of a different ranking.

This is one of the strongest poker hands. In addition to being called four of a kind, this particular combination is often referred to as “quads” by poker players.

Poker HandExplanationExample
#1. Royal FlushFive highest cards of the same suitAcKcQcJcTc
#2. Straight FlushAny five consecutive cards of the same suitJcTc9c8c7c
#3. Four of a KindFour cards of the same rank4c4s4d4hJc
#4. Full HouseThree cards of one rank + two cards of another rank3c3s3d7h7c
#5. FlushFive cards of the same suitKdJd7d5d3d
#6. StraightFive consecutive cards in different suits6s5s4d3d2h
#7. Three of a KindThree cards of the same rank7c7h7d2hJ2
#8. Two PairsTwo cards of one rank + two cards of another rankQcQs2c2hJs
#9. One PairTwo cards of the same rank8h8sAcKs5d
#10. High CardAny other handAcQdJs4h3c

Examples of a Four of a Kind Poker Hand

Any hand containing four cards of the same ranking constitutes a four of a kind. Here are a few examples of this powerful poker hand:

  • As Ah Ad Ac Js – four of a kind, Aces
  • Qs Qh Qd Qc 5d – four of a kind, Queens
  • 9s 9h 9d 9c 6s – four of a kind, Nines
  • 5s 5h 5c 5d Ah – four of a kind, Fives

In a rare situation where two players have a different four of a kind hand at a showdown, the winner is the player holding the combination of four higher-ranking cards. Deuces are the lowest, and aces are the highest.

When two players have the same four-of-a-kind combination, the kicker card is used to determine the winner according to poker rules. The player with the higher kicker wins. For example, if one player has four of a kind, Sevens with a Queen kicker, and the other has four of a kind, Sevens with a Nine kicker, the player with the Queen kicker wins.

What Beats Four of a Kind in Poker?

A four of a kind beats almost all other poker hands. When you have this combination, you are certain to beat any full house, flush, straight, three of a kind, two pair, one pair, and high card combination.

That said, four of a kind is only the third-strongest hand in poker, which means it still loses to a couple of made hands, namely a straight flush and a Royal Flush.

A four of a kind can also lose to another four of a kind, as explained earlier. This happens when another player has a stronger four of a kind or if they have the same hand but with a higher kicker.

Four of a Kind Probabilities

There is a reason why four of a kind is so high in poker hand rankings. This is a pretty rare hand that doesn’t come around very often. The odds of getting a four of a kind from five cards randomly dealt from a standard deck are 0.024%.

The table below shows odds of flopping four of a kind in Texas Hold’em with different starting hands.

Any pocket pair0.24%
Random unpaired hand0.03%

Here are a few more interesting facts and stats about a four of a kind hand in poker:

  • Overall, you’ll flop four of a kind once in 3,333 poker hands on average (accounting for hands that you fold before the flop as well)
  • When you flop three of a kind, your odds of improving to quads on the turn are 2.2%
  • You have the same chance of flopping four of a kind with a pair of Aces as you do with a pair of Deuces

How to Play Four of a Kind in Poker

In almost all scenarios, four of a kind is the nuts, and you should almost never fold this hand. The only exception to this rule may be if there are four cards to the straight flush on the board.

Thus, when you do have quads, your main strategy is to let your opponents catch up and not push them out of the pot. Since this hand is virtually invulnerable, you can afford to let them see all five cards if you believe this will help incentivize them to put more money into the pot.

The best time to have a four of a kind hand is when the board is double paired, and you hold the lower of the two pairs. In this case, your opponents will make the top full house with just one card matching the bigger pair, which will usually be enough for them to put a lot of money into the middle.


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