What is ‘Three of a Kind’?
Three of a Kind is a poker hand where the player has three cards of the same kind, plus two non matching kickers. The best Three of a Kind hand is three aces plus a King and a Queen. Not to be confused with a full house which is a Three of a Kind and a pair.
‘Three of a Kind’ Explained
Three of a Kind beats high card, one pair and two pairs, but is beaten by straight, flush, full house, 4 of a Kind, straight flush and Royal flush. If two players both have three kings, for example, the winning hand is determined on the strength of the kickers. In this case, K-K-K-7-5 beats K-K-K-6-3, and K-K-K-7-6 would beat K-K-K-5-4. There are 54,912 possible Three of a Kind hands in a game of poker.
Three of a Kind hands are also sometimes referred to as trips and sets. The difference between them is how you make the Three of a Kind hand.
Trips: In Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha, trips are made when you use two cards on the board plus one in your hand to make Three of a Kind.
Sets: When you make a Three of a Kind with your pocket pair plus one card on the board, then that is a set. A set is generally considered to be the better hand because it is easier to hide than trips.
The earliest form of poker, dating from the 1800s, was played with a stripped deck of just 20 cards – the 10, J, K, Q and ace of each suit. Four players were dealt five cards each and the recognised hands were, in ascending order: no pair, one pair, two pair, Three of a Kind, full house and Four of a Kind.