Four-of-a-kind marks one of the rarest and strongest hands you can possibly make in a poker game. The third-strongest hand in the standard poker hand rankings, four-of-a-kind only loses to straight flushes and royal flushes.
A 52-card poker deck features four aces, four kings, four queens, and so on. To make four-of-a-kind, you need to draw all four of the same card as part of a five-card hand.
An example of a four-of-a-kind looks like this:
You’ve made four-of-a-kind in this case by drawing all four tens out of the deck. Note that the 3♣ is just the high-card kicker in this hand and would only factor in if two or more players made the same hand in a community cards game like Texas Hold’em.
Other examples of four-of-a-kind could be A♠ A♥ A♣ A♦ 4♣ and 5♠ 5♥ 5♣ 5♦ T♦. In a battle of two or more four-of-a-kind hands, the hand with the strongest cards wins. For example, four-of-a-kind aces beats four-of-a-kind kings.
How Does Four-of-a-Kind Rank?
Four-of-a-kind stands as the No. 3 hand in the standard poker hand rankings, only trailing the straight flush and the royal flush. A 52-card deck yields 156 distinct ways to make four-of-a-kind. Combined with all possible different kickers, there are 624 possible ways to draw four-of-a-kind.
If you randomly drew five cards from the 52-card deck, you’d have an 0.0240% chance of making four-of-a-kind (4,165-to-1 odds against).
In Texas Hold’em, the object is to make the best five-card hand from seven total cards. With all five community cards dealt, the probability of making four-of-a-kind in Texas Hold’em is 0.168% or 594-to-1 odds against.
How to Play Like a Pro When You Flop Quads (Or Other Super Strong Hands)
The flop comes…
and you SMASH it — you’ve got the mothereffin’ nuts!
Flopping hands like quads and boats doesn’t happen particularly often. But when it does, you should try to make the most of it by extracting as much money as possible.
This article will help you do that.
Let’s dive in straight away.
Why All Super Strong Hands Are NOT Created Equally
The challenging part of playing flopped full houses or quads is, generally speaking, the fact that they block many of the hands with which your opponent can continue.
For example, consider how tough it is for your opponent to have a decent hand himself you have AA and the flop is AA5:
- All of the Aces are accounted for, so he can’t have trip aces.
- Most of your opponents won’t play many 5x hands in most situations.
But your strong hands won’t always block your opponent’s continue range to this degree.
There’s a big difference between a hand like AA on AA5 and 55 on the same flop. Can you spot it? I’ll give you a moment…
AA blocks a whole lot of the opponent’s calling range while 55 only blocks a minuscule part of it.
What should this mean for your strategy?
Regardless of whether you are in position or out of position, you should lean towards playing the 55 on AA5 more aggressively than AA. This is best done by either betting/raising more frequently or by using larger sizes when betting/raising.
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Here are 3 factors to look out for, each of which make fast-playing more attractive:
1. The flop cards are connected
Examples: Q♠ 9♠ 9♦ or 8♣ 8♠ 7♥.
When there are 4 gaps or fewer in between the top and middle card, you should be a bit more likely to fast-play. These board types allow your opponent to hold more straight drawing hands, from which you can extract value.
On the other side of the coin: When there are big gaps between the top and middle card, you should be a bit more likely to slow-play.
2. The flop has a flush draw
Examples: J♥ 8♦ J♥ or K♠ 5♠ 5♣.
Players rarely surrender with a flush draw on the flop (for good reason), so you should be a bit more likely to fast-play when the board has a potential flush draw.
On the other side of the coin: When the board doesn’t have a flush draw, you should be a bit more likely to slow-play.
3. You are not blocking a major part of your opponent’s defending range
Examples: You have 2♠ 2♣ on J♠ J♣ 2♦ or 5♥ 5♣ on A♠ 5♦ 5♠.
When you don’t block huge portions of the range with which your opponent will continue versus a bet/raise, you should be quite a bit more likely to fast-play.
On the other side of the coin: When you absolute crush the board — QQ on QQ5, for example — you should be quite a bit more likely to slow-play.
Playing In Position vs Out of Position: Strategic Differences
When playing in position against your opponent with deep stacks behind, you should heavily lean towards taking the aggressive option. You’re incentivized to build the pot right away — tricky check backs will usually cost you money in the long run.
When stacks behind are somewhat shallow, however, you should seriously consider the passive option. For example, when you play a 4-bet pot, the stack-to-pot ratio will usually be very small and thus you will be able to get all-in by the river whether you bet the flop or not. If you heavily block your opponent’s continuing range (such as KK on K44), a check back makes a lot of sense.
Out of Position
When playing out of position as the preflop raiser in a single raised pot, you should lean towards playing more defensively unless the board heavily favors your range.
You should go for a check-raise or a check-call depending on how much of your opponent’s continuing range you are blocking. The more of his defending range you block, the more passive you should play.
When out of position as the preflop caller, you should almost always go for the aggressive option and check-raise. You do not have the privilege of being the last to act on any street, so you want to make sure you start building the pot right away.
If you are out of position against any of your opponents, regardless of whether you’re the preflop raiser or the preflop caller, you should start off with a check.
As I’ve covered in previous articles, multiway pots play vastly different than heads-up pots. You need to play more defensively when facing off against multiple opponents who may hold very strong hands. (Even when you have a super-strong hand yourself, you need to think about how your overall range wants to play, not only your specific holding.)
If you are in position against all of your opponents, it’s best to start betting to build the pot right away (unless you “block everything” — just like in the AA on AA5 scenario).
There you go, a strong blueprint for playing your super hands on the flop. These are some of the most fun hands to play and now you know how to win more money with them over the long run.
If you enjoyed this article or if you have any questions or feedback please let me know in the comment section down below!
Here’s what I recommend reading next: How to Play Pocket Tens in Cash Games.
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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