A Flush Beats 3 of a Kind. Here’s Why


Poker is a popular card game. You can play it for large sums of money. Or you can play poker for fun with friends and family with no chips or real money. But in all poker games there are a set of rules in place, so you know every time who wins and who doesn’t.

why does a flush beat 3 of a kind
Flush and 3 of a kind are both very strong hands. But flush outperforms trips.

For a newcomer, all the rules in poker might be confusing. But soon when you master all the rules, you realize there is a lot more to poker than just that. The deep strategy to outplay opponents and knowing when to lay down strong but not strong enough hands is what makes you a winner.

That takes many hours to master. But first things first, you need to understand basic rules first, and in this article, I will tell you why a flush beats trips (3 of a kind).

Why does a flush beat 3 of a kind (trips)? Flush beats three of a kind (trips) because it is harder to hit. Not only that, but flush also beats a straight, two pairs and one pair type of hands. It wouldn’t make much sense if a certain hand combination would be worth more but also more likely to hit. It would defeat the purpose of the poker game.

What is the probability to hit a flush and what is the chance to hit 3 of a kind


Flush3 of a kind
Chance to hit in %0.196%2.1%
Odds against508 : 146.3 : 1
My winrate bb/100 (6max and FR)15002000

The probability to hit three of a kind (trips) is around 2.1% of the time. This means that you will hit 3 of a kind around once every 50 hands.

You will hit a flush less often. Actually a lot less often. The probability to hit a flush is only 0.2%. 

You will hit a flush around once every 500 hands. In between is a straight with 0.4% chance to be hit, or around once every 250 hands. 

That is why a flush wins in poker against 3 of a kind.

In my poker career, I played more than 5,000,000 Texas Holdem No limit hands. During that time I have gotten quite a sample of winrates I get with three of a kind and what kind of a winrate I will have with a flush.

Expected winrate with 3 of a kind

They both make me a decent amount of money, but of course, a flush performs a lot better. If you are winning more with 3 of a kind than a flush, then you have a leak in your strategy when you hit a flush. Or your sample just isn’t big enough yet.

three of a kind poker winrate
My winrate with trips (3 of a kind). This is a mixture of 6max and FR.

As you can see from the graph, the winnings are pretty consistent. Like with all hands in poker, also when it comes to sets, it is better to have higher hands. Either higher pairs or higher kicker in your hand, once the board comes paired, and you hit 3 of a kind.

You will hit trips most often when you have a pocket pair in your hand already and you will get paid the most on those.

Expected winrate of a flush

A Flush is a better hand than 3 of a kind. You should also make more money with it.

You might think that the best hand to hit the flush is AKs. But that actually isn’t the case.

It is true that nut flush will make you the most money, but you are better off if your other side card is lower than a queen. You want the opponent to have a K high flush or Q high flush, as you are more likely to get paid off.

That is why having a K or a Q in your hand is not the best idea. Of course, you still prefer playing AKs than AJs for example. AK will make you more money. Just when you hit a flush you will make more money if someone can have the second nuts.

But you will hit a flush so rarely, and you will hit a top pair a lot more often. And with AK every time you hit a top pair, you will have a top kicker. In poker, you will have a pair 42% of the time. So those times having a top kicker to go with your top pair will enable you to go for more value bets than with AJ, that doesn’t give you the top kicker all the time.

poker flush winrate
My winrate with the flush is higher than with 3 of a kind, but still, I could do a bit better.

Looking at the graph you can see that also the flush winrate is very consistent. Maybe I could be folding a little more, to some passive players who bet large, when I don’t have the nut flush, and of course, when they bet hard, they have the nuts. Other than that, winrate is still pretty good.

Once again, it is better to have higher hands which can give you nut flush, than just having a low or mid-high flush. The difference in winrate will be huge, especially when you hit a nut flush and the opponent hits a lower one. In such a scenario, it is hard for anyone to let go off their hand.

What is the order of poker hands? What beats what in poker?

One of the basic rules is also hand rankings. In Texas Holdem ranks of cards at showdown increase depending on how hard it is to hit a certain hand combination.

You will have a high card, with no pair, 50% of the time, and royal flush slightly less than once every 650,000 hands.

To see what beats what have a look at a table below. The hand that is listed higher beats all the hands below it.

Order of poker hands goes as follows from worst (bottom) to best (top):

HandProbabilityOdds (odds against)
Royal flush0.000154%649,740 : 1
Straight flush0.00139%72,192 : 1
Four of a kind0.0240%4,165 : 1
Full house0.1441%693 : 1
Flush0.1965%508 : 1
Straight0.3925%254 : 1
Three of a kind2.1128%46.3 : 1
Two Pair4.7539%21.0 : 1
One Pair42.2569%1.37 : 1
High card (no pair)50.1177%0.995 : 1

What beats a straight?

We can see that a straight is beaten by any flush, full house, four of a kind, straight flush, and a royal flush. This might sound like many hands, but we still get paid off nicely by all sets, two pairs and stubborn players unwilling to let go of a pair.

If there is a flush or full house possible on top of straight, and you face huge bets, then you should consider letting go of your straight.

What beats a straight flush?

A straight flush is beaten by any higher straight flush and by a royal flush. Don’t expect this to happen that often in Texas Holdem. Therefore in almost all cases, you should be happy to stack off with a straight flush. One exception might be you having 9s on TsJsQsKsx. Then if someone holds an Ace of spades would have a royal flush, but this happens so rarely, you shouldn’t be concerned about.

You will make most money with a straight flush when someone holds the nut flush. Or if the board is paired and the opponent has a full house

What beats four of a kind?

Four of a kind is also a very strong hand. In fact, you will hit four of a kind less often than once every 4,000 hands. It is beaten by only a handful of poker hands. Those are straight flush and a royal flush.

What is the best hand in poker?

royal flush

Best hand in poker is royal flush and you will hit it once every 650,000 hands.

Getting it the first time it feels really exciting. I felt like a true poker player once I got my first. The only way you can influence getting dealt a royal flush faster is by playing more poker and of course, playing broadway suited cards (T – A).

I wouldn’t stress over it too much, as, in the end, it comes down to random hand generators when you get your first. It could happen you will play over 1 million hands to get one, or you can be lucky and hit it in first 1,000 hands.

Conclusion

Now you know why a flush beats 3 of a kind. From here on you should have no problems recognizing the winning hand. The next step is to keep learning something new each day, and eventually, you too can become a good winning player at poker. 

Useful Links:

Wikipedia: Hand rankings

Article: Is a straight or flush more likely to hit? – this one might surprise you, it is not what many people think

Primoz

I have played poker professionally for more than 10 years. I was a winner at every poker format that I played - from tournaments to cash games, both in NL Holdem and PLO. Now my biggest satisfaction is to provide enthusiastic but new poker players with answers to all of their questions.

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