What Is Three of a Kind in Poker?

A three of a kind in poker is a hand consisting of three cards of the same ranking and any two other unpaired cards.

In Texas Hold’em, there is an important differentiation between a three of a kind made using a pocket pair, which is known as a set, and the one made using two community cards, which is usually referred to as trips.

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 Three of a Kind Poker Hand

Three cards of the exact same ranking coupled with any two other unmatched cards constitute a three of a kind. Here are a few examples:

  • Ks Kd Kc Ah 5d – three of a kind, Kings
  • Js Jc Jd Qs 8c – three of a kind, Jacks
  • 9h 9d 9s Js Th – three of a kind, Nines
  • 5h 5s 5d 9s 7d – three of a kind, Fives

In community card poker variations, two players can have the same three of a kind hand.

When this happens, the remaining two cards, known as kickers, are used to determine the winner. More precisely, the player holding the highest kicker card of the remaining four cards will win the pot.

For example, if one player has 5s 5c 5h 8s Td and the other player has 5s 5c 5d 2c Qh, the latter player wins because the Qh is the highest kicker. If the first kicker is of the same ranking, the second card is compared.

What Beats Three of a Kind in Poker?

A three of a kind is a decently strong poker hand that beats all high card, one pair, and two pairs combinations.

However, compared to all possible combinations, a three of a kind is only the seventh-strongest hand, as it loses to all straights, flushes, full houses, four of a kind combos, straight flushes, and Royal Flushes.

When two players have a three of a kind, the player holding the higher-ranking three cards wins the pot. For example, three of a kind, Nines beats three of a kind, Sixes.

Three of a Kind Probabilities

There are two ways you can make three of a kind in Texas Hold’em. You can do it by combining your pocket pair with one of the community cards, or you can use one of your hole cards with two community cards of the same ranking to make the trips.

The table below shows the odds of making three of a kind on different streets when starting with a pocket pair and an unpaired hand.

 FlopFrom flop to turnFrom turn to river
Pocket pair10.8%4.2%4.3%
Unpaired hand1.35%4.2%4.3%

Here are a few more interesting facts about three of a kind hand in poker:

  • When you start with AKo specifically, your odds of flopping a three of a kind or better are 1.78%
  • When you hold a pair, you have a 20.3% chance to improve to a three of a kind or better by the river
  • With T9s, your odds of flopping a three of a kind or better are 3.58%

How to Play Three of a Kind in Poker?

Although three of a kind can be a powerful hand that can win you big pots, it’s important to understand when you need to be careful with this particular combination and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Generally speaking, sets (three of a kind made with a pocket pair) are much stronger than trips made using two community cards. These hands are better disguised and will allow you to extract value from your opponents, which is why set mining is a good strategy when playing with deep stacks.

You should be careful playing three of a kind with boards with three cards to a straight or a flush, especially if other players seem eager to put chips into the pot. While trips are a decently strong hand, they’re by no means unbeatable, and you have to be very aware of the board texture in big pots.


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