Four of a kind in poker: types, probability and game strategy

09.04.2024
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Updated 15.04.2024
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Four of a kind in poker

What are we talking about here? Four of a kind in poker is one of the strongest combinations, which appears quite rarely. With four cards of same rank, the player has every chance of winning the pot. If, of course, he plays Texas Hold’em and not Lowball.

What to consider? There is a reason why we talk of several varieties of poker, since they have their own ways of making four of a kind. The strategy of playing with such a hand is also important; you should make sure you’re not scaring your opponents out of pot.

What is four of a kind in poker?

Poker is one of the most exciting games. To win you need to build strategies, have analytical skills and be quite lucky. Poker rules may vary depending on the specific discipline. However, we can highlight a principle that works in all variations of the game.

Participants are dealt cards, and then they take turns, making bets, calling bets and raising bets. In addition, a player can give up and fold his hand. The main goal of the game is to make the best combination of cards. To do this, you can use both your hole cards and common cards on the board.

What is four of a kind in poker? We are talking about a poker combination of four cards of the same rank and one additional card (the so-called “kicker”). For example, four deuces and a six in poker form four of a kind with a six.

Four of a kind in poker

The poker combination of four of a kind (or quads) is found in various types of the game. There are couple of ways to make quads:

  • Ordinary. This is the most common type of quads, which has already been discussed above. It consists of four cards of the same rank and one additional card called a kicker. For example, four sevens and a queen as a kicker.
  • Four of a kind with high kicker. This type has the same structure as quads described above, but with a higher value card as the kicker. For example, four tens and an ace.
  • Four of a kind with low kicker. The same thing but with a lower card as kicker. For example, four sevens and an eight.

Types of poker that have four of a kind

In poker, the term “four of a kind” refers to a combination of four cards of the same rank, accompanied by a fifth card of a different rank from the other four (kicker). Four of a kind is considered a powerful combination in the game. It is quite difficult to beat quads.

Let’s look at poker types that have quads:

  • Texas Hold’em. In this type of game, each player is dealt two hole cards and five common cards. Four of a kind in Texas Hold’em is a combination of four cards of the same rank, for example, four queens. In this case, kicker can be any card but queen.
  • Omaha. In Omaha, players are dealt four cards, but to form a hand they must use two of their hole cards and three of the five common cards. Thus, four of a kind in Omaha is the combination of four cards of the same rank from hole and common cards.
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  • Seven card stud. In this type of game, each player dealt seven cards. Players must make the best five-card combination out of seven. Four of a kind in Seven Card Stud is a combination of four cards of the same rank.

You can make quads in other types of poker as well. For example, in Omaha Hi-Lo, Draw Poker, etc. Although the principle of making a combination remains similar, the rules may differ, so it is recommended to clarify all the nuances before starting a game.

Ways of making four of a kind in poker

Four of a kind in poker is a powerful combination, with which the player has a high probability of winning.

To make this combination in Draw Poker, the player needs to receive four cards of the same rank during the dealing or get it after drawing cards.

In this poker type, you make quads without common cards, so this combination usually comes as a surprise to your opponents. Unlike in games where you use both hole and common cards, it’s much tougher to make quads using hole cards only.

There are several ways of making quads:

Quads on the board

Four cards of the same rank are on the board. The winner is the player with the highest kicker. It’s important to note that without an ace in your hand you have to be careful. If an Ace is already on the board, you can make big bets and raises, especially when there is a newbie in the hand who may give up his hands due to lack of knowledge.

Three of a kind on the board

When three cards of same rank hit the board and you manage to complete quads with one hole card, you find yourself in an ambiguous situation. The effectiveness of your game in this case depends on whether your opponents can make a full house.

If no opponent has a complete hand, then it’s hard for you to make any money. Opponents, knowing there is trips on board, will play slow and cautious.

It is likely that they will opt to fold. In this case, your goal is not to give away the strength of your hand in order to keep your opponents in play.

If one of your opponents still makes a full house, then you can easily raise the pot a lot and end up taking it down.

Paired board

When playing a paired board, you need a pocket pair of same rank to make quads, which would be unexpected for opponents. This situation requires a skillful approach.

Four of a kind in poker

Against a tight opponent, you should put small bets to give him an opportunity to see all five cards cheaply. On the other hand, if your opponent is an aggressive player, try to induce bets from him and start making raises on the river.

It is important to avoid being overly aggressive and pushing your whole stack, especially given the fold equity in such spots, as this can lead to you losing potential profits. The thing is your opponents will just fold their hands without even having an opportunity to put some money into pot. The correct tactics will help you maximize your winnings and avoid unwanted losses.

Probabilities of getting four of a kind in poker

Four of a kind is a powerful combination. It can easily bring you the win. However, the probability of making quads depends on the stage of the hand and on your starting hand. Let’s take a look at different situations in Texas Hold’em:

  • If you have two cards of different ranks, the probability of hitting four of a kind on the flop in poker is less than 0.01%.
  • If a player has a pocket pair preflop, then the probability of getting four of a kind on the flop is 2%.
  • If there is a trips on the flop, the probability of getting another card of the same rank on the turn is 2.2%. On the river, this probability increases to 4%.
  • If a player has a trips on the turn, then the probability of getting the desired card on the river is 2%.

In Omaha, making quads has its own features:

  • If you have a pair preflop, the probability of hitting four of a kind is 0.1%.
  • If a player has two pairs preflop, then the probability of improving the hand to quads increases to 1.8%.
  • If there is a trips on the flop, the chance of getting the desired card on the turn is 2%. On the river, this probability is 4%.
  • If you make trips on turn, then the chance of improving the hand to four of a kind on the river is 2%.

Strength of four of a kind in comparison to other combinations

Four of a kind in poker is one of the most powerful combinations. In most types of poker, it sits almost on the top of combination hierarchy.

But despite its strength, there are couple of combos that beat quads:

Royal Flush. This is the highest hand in the game, consisting of five consecutive cards of the same suit from ten to ace. This is an extremely rare combination.

Straight flush. A sequence of five cards of the same suit. For example, diamonds 8, 9, 10, jack and queen.

More often than not, four of a kind in poker represents the strongest combination in the hand. However, gambling is unpredictable, so even the most powerful combinations can be ineffective.

Tips for playing four of a kind in poker

How to play four of a kind in poker? Let’s go over a few basic recommendations:

  • Strategic selection of bets. When you are holding quads, the main goal is to maximize the size of the pot. Try raising the size of bets. This way you will attract the attention of your opponents. If the pot is already big, it makes sense to increase the bet size to maximize winnings. At the same time, it is important to maintain balance. Otherwise, you will scare off your opponents off the pot.
  • Underrepresentation of a hand. It often makes sense to make small bets at first or maybe even make passive plays to avoid folding out opposition. As the pot grows, you can move on to more aggressive solutions.
  • Unpredictability. In some cases, you need to demonstrate a variety of styles to confuse your opponents and prevent them from reading your hand.
  • Thorough analysis. Study the common cards on the board and if there are some draws and opportunities for your opponents to make strong hands, keep betting to make them pay for a chance to improve.
  • Attentiveness. Watch your opponents’ playing style. If opponents begin to make large bets, this may indicate that they have strong combinations. In such situations, it is worth increasing the size of the pot and then act strategically in different stages of the hand.

Remember that the effectiveness of your actions depends on many factors, such as playing style, opponents’ tactics, pot size and the current stage of the hand.

Frequently asked questions about four of a kind in poker

How to determine who has the best hand when both have quads?

In this case, you have the same combination. However, when several people hit quads, the one with the highest kicker wins.

Is it possible to lose with four of a kind in poker?

Four of a kind in poker most often leads to victory. However, in rare cases, situations are possible where the player holding such a combination still loses. These cases are known as bad beats.

Some poker rooms, such as PokerDom and RuPoker, have tables with a Bad-beat Jackpot feature, where a player who loses with a strong hand can receive a share of a progressive jackpot, sometimes significantly larger than the size of the pot in the current hand.

When is four of a kind considered a bad hand in poker?

In some disciplines, such as Razz, Badugi and Lowball, making quads results in a loss. According to the rules of these types of game, the weaker a player’s combination is, the higher his chances of winning.

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