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Running Pair

What is a ‘Running Pair’?

In poker, a ‘running pair’ is a pair that falls as the last two cards of the community board – a pair that appears through the turn and the river . The phrase applies when the pair is the best hand held by a player, although it might sometimes be used to describe a late pair even when it is not involved in a player’s hand.

‘Running Pair’ Explained

Some forms of poker involve a series of shared cards, often five, which are revealed in stages as the game progresses. Players can use these cards and their own to make up their five card hand. The first three cards are called the flop, the fourth card is the turn and the final card is the river. Players might better their existing hand at each of these stages.

If a poker player says that they won off a ‘running pair’, they mean that the last two cards revealed came up with a pair, and they won thanks to making triples or having a high card that beat someone else’s use of this pair. The community cards on the board are shared, so a pair that appears is open for anybody else to use as well, and the game could come down to who has the best kicker, or high card, to break the tie.

The ‘running pair’ can also describe a pair turning up at the last two cards, even when it is not used by any player at the table. A player might even refer to a running pair if they exchange two cards at the draw and they come up with a pair, which becomes the best thing in that hand. For example, if a player holds 2-3-4-7-10 they might exchange the 7-10 and hope for the straight. If they instead turn up a Q-Q running pair, the hand becomes a queen high pair – which might be enough to win.