What Is One Pair in Poker?

A one pair is the first “made” hand in poker, coming right after a high card hand in terms of rankings. A one pair hand consists of two cards of the same ranking and three other cards of different rankings, referred to as kickers.

This is a very common hand, but it’s not a very strong one, as it loses to every other made hand out there. Still, in Texas Hold’em, one pair is often good enough to win you the pot.

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 One Pair Poker Hand

There are many different ways to make a one pair hand in poker, and the hand itself is always named after the actual pair, regardless of the kickers. For example:

  • As Ah Kd Js 5h – a pair of Aces
  • Qd Qc 9c 7c 6c – a pair of Queens
  • 9s 9h 5s 4s 3d – a pair of Nines
  • 2s 2c Ad Kd Qh – a pair of Twos or a pair of Deuces

When it comes to determining the winner, if two players have a one pair hand, the pot always goes to the one showing a higher pair. For example, a pair of Kings always beats a pair of Jacks, regardless of other cards.

If, however, two or more players have the exact same pair, kickers (side cards) come into play. In this scenario, a player holding the highest kicker wins. For example, Qs Qd Td 4s 3c beats Qc Qh 9h 8h 7s. In the event the highest kickers are of the same rank, the second-highest kickers are compared in the same fashion, etc.

What Beats One Pair in Poker?

A one pair only beats a high card, i.e. the only hand it is stronger than is a hand consisting of five completely unmatched cards.

In terms of hand rankings, one pair is only the ninth-best hand, and it loses to every other made hand in existence, namely two pair, three of a kind, straight, flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, and, of course, Royal Flush.

In Texas Hold’em and other community card games, a top pair is the best possible single-pair hand, and it beats all other possible one pair hands.

One Pair Probabilities

As already mentioned, one pair is one of the most common hands in poker, and in Texas Hold’em, it constitutes about half of all hands. The odds of being dealt any one pair in a hand of five cards are 49.9%.

In Texas Hold’em, these are your odds of making a one pair hand on different streets.

Making one pair hand with all 5 cards on the board42.23%
Pairing one card from your hand on the flop28.6%
From flop to turn12.77%
From turn to river13.04%

A pair isn’t a particularly exciting poker hand, but here are a few more facts relating to a one pair hand that you may find interesting:

  • The odds of flopping a set (three of a kind) when holding a pocket pair are 11.8%
  • You’ll always flop a top pair when you flop a pair with AK
  • If you miss the flop, the odds of improving to one pair by the river are 24%

How to Play One Pair in Poker

When learning how to play poker, you will see that one pair can be good enough to win you the pot, but you should always approach it carefully. When you don’t have at least a top pair, your goal should be to get to the showdown as cheap as possible and get out of the pot if there is a lot of betting going on.

In tournaments, where stacks are often shallower, it’s fine to play your top pair hands quickly and not allow your opponents to catch up for free.

You should also be mindful of your kicker any time you only have one pair. It is quite often the case that the kicker is used to determine a winner between two players that have the same top pair, so you should value one pair with the best kicker much higher than a pair with a smaller kicker, and it should influence your poker strategy in any given hand.


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