What is a ‘Second Pair’?
A ‘second pair’ is a pair made with the second highest card available. It usually applies to a pair made from the board in Hold’Em games, but it can also appear in stud and draw games where the pair is made, but not with the highest available card. Second pairs can still win the pot if the higher pair is not made.
‘Second Pair’ Explained
In poker, a player who says they made the ‘second pair’ is referring to a pair made with the second highest card on the board (or in the game, when used in draw or stud games). It is most associated with Hold’Em poker and other variants which use community cards to make a shared board. There are usually five cards available on the table which are shared by all players, and two private cards in the hand. Players can make a hand using any combination of the available cards, including some, all or none of those in their hand. The final hands are ranked against the table as per standard poker rules, and the best hand in live play at the final showdown wins the pot.
If the board falls 2-4-6-8-J and the player holds 5-8, they have made a pair of eights. This is not as strong as the pair of jacks, and if any player makes a pair of nines or higher then they have made the best hand. However, a second pair can win if nobody else has a partner for the jack, a higher pair or any higher ranked hand – such as completing the available inside straight. Betting on a second pair is a very risky move, especially if the pair is a low one. Players might consider betting on a king second pair, but they are unlikely to risk it for a seven or less.