Poker Tips By George: Set and Trips

By George Epstein
October 31, 2020

Poker has a language of its own. Some words are coined specifically for the game. Some are a part of our regular English language, but may have a somewhat different meaning in practice. It could be confusing, especially to new players. I will wager that there are many frequent poker players who are not aware of the sometimes subtle differences that may affect how the hand is best played.

The words “sets” and “trips” are good examples. Both are three-of-a-kind. But the set has greater value and is likely to win many more chips. There is a big difference in how they are best played. Suppose you start with Jack-Jack as your hole cards, and catch another Jack on the flop; you have a set of Jacks. That is a great hand and could easily end up winning the pot without further improvement.

On the other hand, suppose you start with Jack-Ten in the hole. This time the flop contains two Jacks. Once again, you have caught three-Jacks. This is called “trips.” It may resemble the set of Jacks; but there is a world of difference, and this applies whether you’re playing live or online at a casino like yes8sg.

three of a kind

Let me explain:

First of all, when you flop a set of Jacks, no one can match your three-Jacks; the best he can make is a pair of Jacks. That’s a very nice situation for you, and you’re the overwhelming favorite at that moment to win the hand.

If you have one Jack in the hole and a pair of Jacks falls on the flop, now you have three-Jacks or trips, but another player could also potentially have trip Jacks at the same time. In that case, the kicker card decides the winner. If you’re out-kicked, then you’re in loads of trouble and will need a lot of help from the deck to catch up. Many players find themselves in such a situation and end up losing heaps of chips.

What are the odds?

Starting with a pair in the hole, the odds of flopping a set are about 8-to-1 against you. On the other hand, the odds against making trips are a huge 73:1 –  over nine times harder!

Sets win more money

Sets are by definition well concealed. When a match to your pocket pair hits the board, making your set, your opponents have no idea that your hand has improved so much.

On the contrary, when a pair shows up on the board, your opponents are more likely to consider trips as an option for your holdings. As a result, they are bound to play more cautiously; they may check rather than open bet or raise. And so the pots tend to be much smaller, unless, as mentioned, two players flopped trips.

Both are good hands

Consider the case when an opponent has pocket Aces, but no Ace falls on the board. On the other hand, the poker gods smile down on you and you catch a set. You’re poised to win loads in such a pot defeating those bad beat aces!

If you end up with trips, your opponent may have made two-pair, Aces-up, and is bound to overlook the strength of your hand, betting and even raising to build the pot – for you! Be sure to take advantage and scoop up the biggest pot possible.

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George Epstein poker author
Written By.

George Epstein

After a long and productive career as a leader in the aerospace industry, upon his retirement in the 1990s, George Epstein chose poker as his “second career.” George has been widely recognized for his many significant accomplishments and contributions to our society. These include pioneering and innovations in various materials, testing and manufacturing technologies for […]

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