What Are Two Pairs in Poker?

Two pairs is a poker hand consisting of two cards of the same ranking, two more different cards of the same ranking, and a different fifth card that’s known as the kicker.

In other words, a two pairs hand consists of two different one pairs and the fifth card that’s different in ranking from the other four. Although it’s fairly low in the poker hands hierarchy, two pairs is often a winning hand in Texas Hold’em.

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 Two Pairs Poker Hand

There are a few different ways one can make a two pairs hand in poker. Regardless of how it is formed, it always contains two different pairs and an additional kicker card. For example:

  • Ks Kc 9s 9d 5h – two pairs, Kings and Nines
  • Js Jh 7s 7d Ac – two pairs, Jacks and Sevens
  • 9c 9d 5h 5c Kd – two pairs, Nines and Fives
  • 6c 6s 4s 4c Qd – two pairs, Sixes and Fours

In the event that two players have two pairs at a showdown, the winner is determined by who has the highest ranking pair. For example, Aces and Fours will always beat Kings and Queens.

If two players have the same higher ranking pair, then the winner is determined based on the rank of the second pair. So, Kings and Jacks beats Kings and Nines because Jacks are a higher pair than Nines.

Finally, when two or more players have the exact same two pairs hand, the kicker card is used to determine the winner. In this case, the player holding the highest ranking card in addition to their two pairs wins.

What Beats Two Pairs in Poker?

Two pairs is one of the lowest-ranking hands in absolute hand rankings. This hand beats only a high card and one pair.

This makes two pairs the eighth-strongest (or the third-weakest) hand in poker. A two pairs hand will lose at a showdown to any three of a kind, straight, flush, full boat, four of a kind, straight flush, and Royal Flush.

You will also lose with two pairs to any stronger two pairs combination or to the same two pairs hand with a better kicker.

Two Pairs Probabilities

Two pairs is a fairly common poker hand. The odds of being dealt a two pairs combination of any kind from a deck of 52 cards are 7.63%.

In Texas Hold’em, these are your odds of flopping two pairs with an unpaired hand and improving to two pairs specifically after making one pair on the flop:

Improving to two pairs from flop to turn6.4%
Improving to two pairs from turn to river6.5%

Here are a few more interesting facts about a two pairs poker hand that you may find useful:

  • Your odds of flopping two pairs or better with AKo specifically are 3.8%
  • With T9s, your odds of flopping two pairs or better are 5.6%
  • When you flop a pair, your odds of improving to two pairs or better by the river are 20.3%

How to Play Two Pairs in Poker

Although it is relatively low in overall poker hand rankings, two pairs is often a very strong hand in Texas Hold’em and the one you can play for stacks with 100 big blinds or less in many situations.

This is especially true on dry boards, i.e., boards where no straights or flushes or possible. Holding the top two pairs in such situations is extremely powerful as you’ll often find willing opponents with lower two pairs combos.

On wet boards where straights and flushes are possible, you should adjust your poker strategy and be more careful with two pairs. Players willing to give you action on these types of boards will often have made hands that are better than yours or very strong draws that can easily improve on the future streets.

With this in mind, on boards where there are a lot of draws but no possibility of made straights and flushes, you should play your two pairs quickly and put a lot of pressure on your opponents to deny them equity and prevent them from seeing cheap turn and river cards.


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