As one of the creators of the EasyPoker app I often get asked about which hands are stronger in texas hold’em poker. The most frequent question is by far if Three of a Kind beats Two Pairs. The question is often stated like “How does three 3’s beat my two pairs of Kings and Jacks?”. This seems confusing for a surprising number of people.
The answer is of cause that three of a kind ALWAYS beats two pairs. No matter the cards.
It’s in the math
Yes, this might sound boring for non mathematicians but it’s a simple question of math. Actually poker is built on math (you probably already knew that).
Getting a strong hand in poker means beating the odds. The smaller the statistical probability of getting the hand, the bigger the chance of winning. The all-time strongest hand in hold’em poker is the Royal Straight Flush. The chance of getting this hand is 649,739 to 1. That is a probability of 0.000154%. For comparison, the chance of getting a single pair is 49.9%.
So far so good.
Three of a Kind vs. Two Pairs
It might sound crazy that, say, three 2’s will beat a Pair of Aces and a Pair of Kings – but it’s not. The odds of getting any two pairs are actually 20:1. In a game of poker with a deck of 52 playing cards, the cumulative probability of this happening is 7.62%. The chance of getting any Three of a Kind is 2.87%.
So there you have it. The reason why any Three of a Kind beats any Two Pairs is in the math. Bring this info to your next poker night and you will be a genius among your poker-noob friends.
Complete poker hand ranking guide
If you’re interested you can visit our complete poker hands ranking guide to get up to date on all hold’em poker hands.