HomeBlogWhat is a Full House in Poker? An In-Depth Guide

What is a Full House in Poker? An In-Depth Guide

Posted on 08.07.2023 Posted Under: Resources

Delving into the fascinating world of poker, we encounter the distinctive allure of a Full House – an intriguing hand that comfortably sits among the elites in the poker hierarchy. It’s a nuanced hand that presents as both a powerhouse and an enigma, full of unique possibilities and captivating strategies.

Comprehending a Full House

In the grand realm of poker, a Full House stands out as a five-card hand consisting of a distinctive blend: a trio of similar kind and a pair. It bears a unique moniker – “a boat” or commonly abbreviated to simply “a boat”. A Full House is viewed as a potent hand in poker, and it is frequently the game-winning hand. But remember, a Full House, while strong, is not invincible.

Ranking a Full House

When it comes to standard poker hand rankings, a Full House is not just any other hand. It is positioned as the third-highest hand (fourth if we acknowledge royal flushes as a unique entity distinct from other straight flushes). The Full House stands as a gateway between more standard hands and the elusive, powerful “monster” hands. It towers over a flush in value and is a step below the mighty four-of-a-kind.

Which Hands Outplay a Full House?

Despite its power, a Full House is not invincible. It’s worth noting that a Full House had been defeated in some of the most gripping poker games, a notable instance being a nerve-racking game between the celebrated poker wizards Daniel Negreanu and Gus Hansen.

In that game, Negreanu was holding 6♠6♥, and Hansen had 5♦5♣. The dealer presented a flop of 9♣6♦5♥, and both players found themselves with a set (or three-of-a-kind). Hansen was almost down and out, but a miraculous 5♠ on the turn saw Hansen surge ahead, securing the game when the 8♠ appeared on the river. The ensuing showdown was a staggering $575,700 pot, marking the largest in High Stakes Poker history at the time.

A Full House can be overcome by the following hands:

  • Royal flush — ace, king, queen, jack, ten all sharing the same suit.
  • All other straight flushes — a sequence of five cards of the same suit.
  • Four-of-a-kind — four cards of a single rank, accompanied by a kicker of any other rank.

Which Hands Fall to a Full House?

If fate deals you a Full House, your chances of seizing the pot skyrocket. The Full House, with its trio-pair blend, outclasses many standard and even many less typical hands.

In particular poker variants, specific conditions must be met for a Full House to be a viable outcome. For instance, in no-limit hold’em, a player can’t secure a Full House without at least a pair on the board. In seven-card stud games, since three cards are faced down, Full Houses can be concealed, making them formidable and potent hands.

A Full House overpowers:

  • Flush — five cards of the same suit that are not sequential.
  • Straight — a sequence of five cards spread across a minimum of two suits.
  • Three-of-a-kind — three cards of the same rank, flanked by two other cards of different and non-matching ranks.
  • Pair — two cards of identical rank, joined by three other cards of different and non-matching ranks.
  • High card — five cards of varying ranks spread across at least two suits.

Who Triumphs When Both Players Present a Full House?

On rare occasions, both players might have a Full House, which frequently leads to a colossal pot. When two superior poker hands like these clash, it’s typically referred to as a “cooler.”

When two Full Houses are pitched against each other, the trio’s rank is the determining factor. For instance, a 5♠5♥5♦6♠6♦ hand trumps a 4♠4♥4♦K♠K♣ hand.

In games using a standard deck, only four cards of each rank exist. Thus, a draw between two Full Houses will never happen, except in games where cards are shared (mainly flop games like hold’em) or wild cards come into play. In these scenarios, the pair can resolve ties when necessary.

Calculating the Probability of a Full House

Being dealt a Full House from a shuffled deck has a probability of 0.1441%. This statistic is arrived at because, in a standard 52-card deck, there are 3,744 combinations that result in a Full House from a pool of 2,598,960 possible hands. This corresponds to odds of 693-to-1. By contrast, a royal flush’s odds are 0.000154%, a straight has odds of 0.3925%, and a high hand has odds of 50.112%.

Instances of Full Houses

Full Houses come in many flavors. K♠K♣K♦Q♠Q♥, 9♠9♥9♦J♥J♣, and 2♠2♥2♣A♠A♥ all stand as prime examples of Full Houses. The rank of the trio always takes precedence when ordering these hands.

The hand 2♠2♥2♣A♠A♥, for instance, would be announced as “a full house, twos (or deuces) over aces.” This can be simplified to: “a boat, deuces of aces.”

Strategy for Playing a Full House in Texas Hold’em

The strength of a Full House, like all hands, is contingent upon the board (in flop games) or your opponent’s visible cards (in stud games). In hold’em, a Full House can sometimes be the best possible hand, while other times, it can amount to little.

However, Full Houses generally remain one of poker’s top hands and warrant aggressive gameplay. As a Full House requires at least one pair on the board, you must be particularly wary of competing Full Houses and fours-of-a-kind. The paired board may also hint at the possibility of your hand to your opponents, which might necessitate cleverly disguising your hand’s strength through slow plays like checks and calls. Mastering these poker strategies will help you capitalize on your pots and winnings.