What are the Rules of Two Pair in Poker?
Table of content:
- What is a two pair in poker?
- Top 2 rules regarding two pair in poker
- Odds of flopping 2 pair in poker
- Probability of getting a two pair in poker
It goes without saying that hand rankings are the holy grail of the poker world. After all, the end goal of any poker player is to take the pot home and to do the same they need to be well-versed with the standard hand ranking system in poker. One such hand ranking that can pretty much make or break any poker game is the two pair. For amateur players, it is vital to understand what a two pair is while for the experienced ones, knowing the odds of flopping 2 pair can actually help them achieve that much-needed edge in the game. Now, in this post, we have covered the meaning of two pair, the rules regarding two pair as well as the probability and odds of flopping 2 pair in poker.
Two pair is one of the crucial poker hand rankings that consists of one pair of same-ranked cards combined with another pair of same-ranked cards. In other words, a two pair is a 5-card hand where there are 2 cards of one rank, 2 cards of another rank and one additional card of the third rank otherwise known as a kicker. Some common examples of two pair include:
King of spades, King of diamonds, Jack of clubs, Jack of hearts, 10 of diamonds
Ace of spades, Ace of clubs, Queen of hearts, Queen of diamonds, King of spades
It is imperative to understand here that in a standard game of Texas Holdem, a two pair can be made when a player holds a pair as the starting hand and obtains another pair from the board. Likewise, a player can also form a two pair by combining the 2 starting cards with two other cards on the board.
Two pair as you might have understood by now is a rather straight-forward hand ranking which as unlikely as it may sound, it is quite common as well. Yes, in a 52-card deck, there are an astounding 1,23,552 possible 2-pair hand combinations and close to 858 distinct ranks of 2 pair hands. Vital to this, the two pair in poker is generally governed using some standard rules which we have detailed below:
Suits are irrelevant
Akin to most poker games, suits are generally considered absolutely irrelevant when it comes to deciding the winning hand. Vital to this, always remember when it comes to making a two pair all you have to consider are the ranks of the cards that you are currently holding. For instance, in a game of Texas Holdem:
Player 1 holds – 10 of spades and Jack of spades
Player 2 holds - Ace of diamonds and 4 of clubs
And the board shows – Ace of hearts, 10 of diamonds, Jack of diamonds, 2 of clubs and 4 of spades
Here, Player 1 makes two pair of tens and Jacks while player 2 makes two pair of Aces and 4s. Now, the winning hand between the two players will be decided based on who holds a higher ranking first pair which in this case is player 2. Since Player 2 holds Aces as the first pair which ranks higher than Tens, player 2 will be declared the winner. Here, as you might have noticed, the suits had absolutely no role to play.
Sometimes in a game of poker, there arises a possibility of a tie with regards to the 5-card combination that players have at the showdown. In such a situation, a procedure is followed to decide the winning hand between the 2 two pair hands. Firstly, when this happens the highest pair is picked to determine the winner. Now, in a rare situation where both the players hold the same highest pair, then the second highest pair is picked and to determine the winner. However, sometimes it so happens that both the players hold the exact same 2 pairs. Here on, the kicker or the fifth card comes into the picture. This card does not have a pair and as such the player holding the higher ranked kicker card is finally declared the winner. Furthermore, if the kicker cards also hold the same ranks and the two players thereafter show the same 5-card hand which cannot be differentiated then the pot is ultimately split between the two players.
So, in this section, we will be covering the odds of flopping 2 pair in poker. First things first, there are close to 1,248 unpaired starting hands in poker, so let’s assume you have been dealt any one of these starting hands.
Now, what are the odds of flopping 2 pair with any random starting hands?
It may be a hard to believe but the odds of flopping 2 pair with any pair of starting hands are just 2%. This, in other words means that you will likely be flopping a 2 pair only once in every 50 flops, provided you have been dealt unpaired starting hands. But what are the odds of flopping 2 pair when a player has already been dealt a pocket pair? Here, pocket pair means two cards both of which have the same ranking.
The odds of flopping 2 pair with pocket pairs = 16.7%
This means if you have already been dealt a pocket pair then you will approximately be flopping a 2 pair once every 62 flops.
Now that you have got a fair idea about the meaning, rules and odds of flopping 2 pair in poker, let’s move forward and talk about the probability of getting a two pair in poker. Having learnt the odds of flopping 2 pair, now, let’s take a look at the pre-flop, flop, turn and river probabilities of making a two pair with regards to two popular variants of poker namely Texas Holdem and Omaha.
Texas Holdem is by far the most popular variant of poker ever to exist in the poker world and thus perhaps needs no introduction. But, before we jump into explaining the probabilities of getting a two pair on different streets of Texas Holdem, let us take a brief look at the rules of this game. So, in a standard game of Texas Holdem each player is dealt two cards, face down during the pre-flop round. Thereafter, 5 community cards – 3 first (in the flop round), then 1 (in the turn round) and finally 1 (in the river round) are dealt on the board which are supposed to be shared by all the players. Using the 2-hole cards and 5 community cards the players are then expected to make their best 5-card hand combination.
Probabilities of getting a two pair in Texas Holdem
It is important to note here that the odds of flopping 2 pair are pretty low and as such this hand is a pretty strong one by Texas Holdem standards. However, the relative strength of this hand depends on the board texture. For instance – if the community cards are good enough to complete a number of flushes and straights then the strength of a two pair considerably goes down. In such a situation, you must play this hand with caution.
Another extremely popular variant of poker is Omaha. In this game, each player is initially dealt 4 cards, and thereafter just like in Texas Holdem, 5 community cards are dealt, 3 on the flop round, 1 on the turn round and finally 1 on the river round. The players are generally expected to make the best 5 card hand combination using exactly 2-hole cards and any 3 community cards.
Probabilities of getting a two pair in Omaha
Since the odds of flopping 2 pair in Omaha are fairly high, it is safe to say you should only play this hand after carefully analysing your opponent’s hand strength.
Looking at the odds of flopping 2 pair, it is safe to say two pair is a fairly rare and strong hand in poker, strong enough to win the pot. However, before playing this hand as a rule of thumb always calculate your winning hands, observe your opponent’s moves and thereafter play this hand as sensibly as you can.
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