How To Play Full House Poker: Meaning, Rank, Rules, And Strategy

How To Play Full House Poker: Meaning, Rank, Rules, And Strategy

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If you are even remotely familiar with poker then you must have heard the term “full house”. Most of the poker players starting out on a game of poker would mostly try to obtain a “full house”. However, do you know the answer to the question of ‘What is a full house in poker? A full house is a 5-card hand in poker that is made up of three-of-a-kind and a pair. This poker hand ranking is one of the most powerful ones that often help players win different poker variants. This hand is obviously supposed to be weaker than straight flush and four of a kind but is stronger than a flush. The rank of the full house is determined by the value of the three similar cards matched by the hands to the board. Since the full house is talked about more than the other hands, there seems to be a general assumption among beginners that the full house is much stronger than the other hands, which is completely untrue. Now, in this in-depth guide, we have detailed every bit of information that you would probably require for learning how to play full house card game. We have covered right from the working example of a full house to the full house strategy to the probability of making a full house in different poker variants in this article. So, let’s dive in.

What is a Full house in Poker?

When it comes to how to play full house card games, the full house is described as any three cards that are of the same face value or number combined with any two cards that are of the same number or face value, i.e. a five-card hand consisting of one pair and three of a kind cards. In other words, a full house (also known as boats) is made using three cards that are of one rank and two cards that are of another rank.

Unlike straight-in poker, figuring out what the full house means just from the name can be a bit difficult. This is because a straight literally tells us what it consists of- 5 cards in straight succession. The contents of the full house in poker, a three of a kind paired with a two of a kind, have nothing in common with the name. A full house in poker s a very unique pair and getting 2 full houses in poker simultaneously or one after the other is very rare.

There are about 3,744 full houses that can be formed from the different permutations and combinations from a deck of standard 52 playing cards. Poker full house rules dictate that the highest full house is Aces full of kings, Ace (A), Ace (A), Ace (A), King (K), and King (K) (A A A K K). In poker lingo, when we say that a full house is Aces full of Kings, we mean that there is a three of a kind for Aces (A) and a two of a kind of Kings (K). Poker full house rules dictate that in this hand combination, the suit of the cards formed to make this hand combination does not matter. What matters is the denomination of each of the cards or the card rankings of each of the cards.

Ranking of Full house in Poker

When we rank the full house in poker against all the other hand combinations in poker, as dictated by the full house rules in poker, we come to see that the full house in poker is the fourth-best hand combination that a player can make. According to the full house rules in Texas Hold’em, the full house in poker comes under the four of a kind, ranking third in poker. In this hand combination, 4 out of 5 cards are supposed to have the same rank. According to the poker full house rules, the suit does not matter in this hand combination. For example, a hand combination consisting of cards of rank 2, rank 2, rank 2, rank 2, and rank 8 is considered to be a Four of a Kind. The full house Texas Hold’em rules also dictate that the full house in poker is ranked above the flush, which ranks fifth in poker. In this hand combination, all 5 cards are supposed to be of the same suit. For example, a hand combination consisting of cards of rank 10, rank 4, rank 8, rank 2, and rank 7, all of the spades, is considered to be a flush.

What are the rules of Full house in Poker?

When looking at a full house in poker, poker full house rules dictate that the three of a kind is seen first and the rank of that full house in poker is decided by its three of a kind first. The pair is looked at after the three of a kind and that too if it is needed. For example, when comparing a full house in poker of Aces full of kings, Ace (A), Ace (A), Ace (A), King (K) and King (K) (A A A K K) and Aced full of queens, Ace (A), Ace (A), Ace (A), Queen (Q) and Queen (Q) (A A A Q Q), poker full house rules dictate that the three of a kind is looked at first. In this case, both these hand combinations have the same three of a kind, Ace (A), Ace (A) and Ace (A) (A A A).

Poker full house rules dictate that in cases like these, we then look at the pair. In this specific scenario, by using poker full house rules, we deduce that one of the pairs is higher than the other pair, the pair of kings, King (K), King (K) (K K) is higher than the pair of queens, Queen (Q), Queen (Q) (Q Q). This then makes the Aces full of Kings, Ace (A), Ace (A), Ace (A), King (K), and King (K) (A A A K K) higher as compared to the Aces full of Queens and the player holding the Aces full of Kings, Ace (A), Ace (A), Ace (A), King (K) and King (K) (A A A K K) emerges victorious in the game. Whenever ranking a full house in poker, poker full house rules dictate that the three of a kind is the first thing we should always look at. A full house in poker which is aces full i.e., a three of a kind with aces, is always bigger than a king full i.e., a three of a kind with kings which is always bigger than a queen full i.e., a three of a kind with queens and so on.

Examples of Full-house in Poker

Now let us understand how to play full house card game with an example. Suppose, a player is playing a game of Texas Hold’em and he holds a hand Ace, Ace, Ace, King, King. This hand represents the best and the strongest 5 cards full house possible in any game of poker. With regards to traditional poker language, this hand is known as “Aces full of kings”.

Additionally, in how to play full house card game, the most important criterion is rank/denomination. Therefore, as per standard poker rules, Ace's full hand will always beat a King full of Queens full in a full house.

Now, let’s understand the above concept of how to play a full house card game using two short examples:

Example 1: Player 1 – King, King, King, Queen, Queen

Player 2 – Queen, Queen, Queen, Ace, Ace

As per poker rules, the king's full always beats the queen full. So, in the above example player, 1 will be declared the winner even if player 2 holds a pair of aces. Because, when it comes to a full house, the one with the highest three-of-a-kind is usually declared the winner. However, if it so happens that you and your opponent hold the same three-of-a-kind. Then, the winner is decided based on who holds a higher pair. In a rare scenario where more than one deck of cards is used, if you and your opponent both hold the same three-of-a-kind and a pair, then you likely have to split the pot.

Now, let’s understand the concept of how to play full house card game using another short example:

Player 1 – Ace, Ace, Ace, 7, 7

Player 2 – Ace, Ace, Ace, 8, 8

In this example, both the opponents hold the same three-of-a-kind. But, while player 1 holds a pair of 7s. player 2 holds a pair of 8s. As player 2’s 8s hold a higher value than opponent 1’s 7s, player 2 will be declared the winner in this hand.

Another example is-

Hand 1 – A, J (Hearts)

Hand 2 – A, T (Diamonds)

Board - J♣J♦T♥T♠5♠

In this example, the players can utilize one of their face-up cards to make a full house on the table. In cases like these where one hole card is used to bring about a five-card holding, the relative value of the cards fairly decreases when compared to using two of the hole cards during the game. In this very example, Hand 2 gets a full house and needs to be cautious about losing it to the other player due to aggression or pressure.

Hand 1 - A (Hearts), J (Spades)

Hand 2 – Q (Clubs), Q (Hearts)

Board - A♠J♣J♦Q♠5♠

In this specific case, both hands end up with a full house. The rank of the three-of-a-kind part of the full house decides the strength or value of the full house. Hand 2 wins the tie in this game as hand 2 makes 3 Queens as compared to hand 1 which makes three Jacks which gets overridden in value by the former. It should also be known that a tie cannot be broken with kickers.

Full house in Poker: A working example

If you are looking to learn how to play full house card games, then, it is imperative for you to understand how two full houses usually rank against each other. To illustrate the same, in this section, we have detailed a working example of how to play a full house card game.

Let us assume two poker players by the name of Mike and Laura are playing a game of Texas Holdem. Here, five community cards (4 of hearts, 8 of diamonds, 9 of diamonds, jack of spades, and 4 of clubs) are on the table. Community cards are basically those cards that are dealt face-up during a game of poker and are shared by all players.

Now, Laura has been dealt a hand of 4 of spades and Jack of hearts. With the 2 cards in her hand and the 5 community cards on the table, Laura has a total of 7 cards that she can use to make the best full house poker hand possible. So, let’s assume she doesn’t use the 8 and the 9. Instead, she makes a full house consisting of – 4 of spades, 4 of hearts, 4 of clubs, Jack of hearts, and Jack of spades.

Mike, on the other hand, has been dealt a hand comprising of 8 of hearts and 8 of clubs. He doesn’t use the 9 of diamonds and Jack of spades. Instead, he makes his best 5-card hand combination using the 8 of hearts, 8 of clubs, 8 of diamonds, 4 of hearts, and 4 of clubs.

In the example above, Mike’s 8 of hearts, 8 of clubs, 8 of diamonds wins from Laura’s 4 of spades, 4 of hearts, and 4 of clubs. Why? Because when it comes to a full house the suit does not make a difference. Instead, the comparison is done based on the value of three-of-a-kind, and since 8>4, Mike wins.

Additionally, as mentioned before, the right way of expressing the full house is by using the three-of-a-kind first, followed by the pairs. So, in the above example while Laura’s full house would be described as fours full of Jacks. Mike’s full house will be called eights full of fours.

Using Full house as part of Poker strategy

By now, we are assuming you have developed a pretty clear understanding of what is a full house and how it is compared. Moving forward, in this section, we are going to discuss how to play full house card games in Texas Hold'em and Omaha. The full house generally assumes incredible importance in both these games because the winner is usually decided based on who holds the best 5-card hand combination.

However, before we jump on to explaining how to play full house card game. It is important for you to be familiar with the rules of both Texas Hold'em and Omaha.

  • Texas Hold’em

First on the line is Texas Hold'em, which is by far the most popular and straightforward poker variant ever introduced to the poker world. In this game, two cards are allotted face down to each player, and a dealer is designated at the beginning of the game. Thereafter, 5 community cards are opened on the board face up. Three at once during the flop, then one during a turn, and one at the last during the river. The players are usually expected to make the best 5 card hand combination using the face-down or hole cards and the 5 community cards. Before and after each community card is revealed, players generally take turns to bet. Thereafter, whoever is able to make the best 5-card hand combination (hole cards + community cards) generally wins the round.

In Texas Hold'em, it is important to remember that a player has the freedom to use a combination of any 7 cards. A player can choose to combine the hole cards with the community cards or leave the hole cards altogether. For instance – a player can choose to use 4 community cards with one hole card or combine 3 community cards with two of his own cards.

Thanks to modern pop culture, a full house is generally considered the strongest hand in poker. However, it is a myth. Even though a full house is a fairly strong hand in poker, it still ranks lower than a royal flush, straight flush, and four of a kind. A royal flush is generally described as 5 cards namely – a ten, jack, queen, king, and an ace that are of the same suit. A straight flush is a poker hand that involves any 5 consecutive cards of the same suit. Finally, the four-of-a-kind involves 4 cards all of which must have the same face value. Here, it is imperative to understand that hitting a full house during flop is quite rare. The better probability will be of you hitting a three-of-a-kind or a pair. Thereafter, you must aim to procure more cards during the turn or river rounds.

Therefore, one of the best ways to learn how to play full house card game is to limp towards the pot. To limp in poker essentially means betting the smallest amount possible that is needed to stay in the game. You can then be aggressive as you reach the river and turn rounds. This is because when it comes to poker there are close to 3,744 ways in which a player can make a full house. So, even if you are not allotted the 2 best hole cards. Be patient, in the beginning as there is a slight chance you might be served the highest value cards during the flop, turn, and river.

  • Omaha

Having learned how to play full house card game in Texas Hold'em, let us now dart our attention towards Omaha, another fun and easy variation of the Texas Hold'em. At the beginning of this game, each player is dealt 4 cards as opposed to the usual 2 cards allotted in Texas Hold'em. Thereafter, akin to Texas Hold'em, 5 community cards are dealt face-up on the board. Now, here’s the catch. In Omaha, unlike Texas Hold'em, a player is required to choose 2 cards out of the 4. Then as per Omaha rules, the player is compelled to use these 2 cards when making the ultimate 5 card poker hand. This, as you might have noticed, is starkly different from Texas Hold'em. Where the player had the option of leaving his 2 hole cards altogether. The rest of the rules followed in Omaha are broadly similar to Texas Hold'em. In this game also the player who holds the best 5 card hand combination is declared the winner. Since a player must necessarily use 2 out of his 4 hole cards in Omaha, it becomes important to learn how to play full house card game.

Let us understand how to play full house card game in Omaha using a short example:

Suppose, the 3 community cards have been dealt on the board – Jack, Queen, Queen

Player 1 has been dealt a hand – Jack, Queen, King, Ace

Player 2 have been dealt a hand – 7,8, Queen, Jack

By taking a look at the cards, it is quite clear both the players can make the strongest full house possible (Queen full of Jacks). But, take a second look at the cards and you will realize that opponent 1 still holds a better chance of winning. Why? Because Player 1 has the option of making a better full house. Yes, since Player 1 already holds a king and ace even if one more ace or king is dealt during the turn round. Then, there is a high probability that Player 2 will score a better hand. Here, with regards to how to play a full house card game it is important to remember that when it comes to Omaha, even the strongest full house is never truly the strongest.

Oh! Speaking of probabilities. In the next section, we have covered how to play full house card game probabilities relative to different rounds of Texas Hold'em and Omaha to give you a better understanding of how to use the full house in such games.

Probabilities of Full house poker hands

When it comes to poker, while a full house is nearly always strong, the strength usually varies depending on the poker variant you are playing. For instance – it is far more difficult to make a full house in Texas Hold'em as compared to Omaha. It is because in Omaha players are allotted 4 hole cards in the beginning so the ways in which a player can make a full house automatically increases. Vital to this, a full house in Texas Hold'em usually has a higher value as compared to Omaha.

Moving forward, in both Texas Hold'em and Omaha there are 4 major rounds:

1)    Pre-flop– As the name suggests, the pre-flop is the betting round before the flop round.

2)    Flop– This is the round where 3 community cards are dealt face-up on the board.

3)    Turn – This round begins after the flop round where 1 community card is dealt face up.

4)    River– This is the last betting round where the last community card is dealt.

When you are learning how to play full house card game, it is important to consider the 4 rounds described above. In the pre-flop round, players are generally allotted only 2 hole cards. Since they are yet to receive the community cards, the possibility of creating a full house here is near to impossible. However, the probability of creating a full house in the flop round slightly increases because you have 3 more cards to play with. The probability of making a full house steadily increases through the turn round. Finally, it reaches its best position during the river round. Let’s take a look at the how-to-play full house card game for both Texas Hold'em and Omaha:

‣ How to play Full house card games- Texas Hold’em probability

Round Probability Playing Style
Pre-flop 0.14% This is based on getting 5 random cards from a deck of standard 52 playing cards
Flop 0.09% This is based on getting three of a kind along with a pocket pair
Turn 12.77% This is based on getting a set on the flop
River 19.57% This is based on getting a set on the turn


‣ How to play Full house card games- Omaha probability

Round Probability Playing Style
Pre-flop 0.14% This is based on getting 5 random cards from a deck of standard 52 playing cards
Flop 0.65% This is based on getting three of a kind
Turn 13.33% This is based on getting three of a kind
River 20.45% This is based on getting three of a kind

Conclusion

We have finally reached the end of our discussion about how to play full house card game. To sum it up, making a full house in poker can undoubtedly put you in a strong position. However, it is still important to remember 2 things. Firstly, 3 other hands are usually ranked higher than a full house and there are many full house combinations that can be ranked higher than yours in any poker variant. Therefore, while looking to create a full house, always make it a point to create the strongest full house possible in a particular game of poker.

So, you have finally learnt how to play full house card game so it is time to practice it online on the GetMega Poker App.

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Kanchan Sharma
Kanchan Sharma

Kanchan Sharma started her career as a learning designer at an MNC while pursuing poker as a hobby. However, she soon pivoted to becoming a professional MTT (Multi Table Tournaments) player. She is currently a leading player, who has taken the male dominated poker world by storm. During her stint as a poker player, she has bagged many titles including India Online Poker Championship (IOPC) for Rs. 17,98,906, Winter Celebration Series for Rs. 6,62,500 and has final tabled multiple tournaments. She continually seeks to improve her poker game and work on her mindset to win the WSOP title soon. Her journey from being a recreational player to a poker pro is inspiring for many people out there.

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