**It goes without saying** that three-of-a-kind does not beat a straight in poker. It has to do with math and hand rankings. Less common is a **straight**, five consecutive cards (like 5♠ 6♥ 7♦ 8♣9 ♠), which only accounts for **10,200 = \binom{4}{1}^{5}** in a deck of cards. On the other hand, **three-of-a-kind** has **54,912 combinations**, which are more probable to be made. Thus, making the **straight** a more rare hand. This makes **straights** the superior hands when it comes to **Texas Hold’em**, with players having a **4.62% chance of landing one** compared to **three-of-a-kind** which is at around **4.83%**.

### Three-of-a-Kind vs. Straight

Many people, when they hear **three-of-a-kind** and see a **straight**, may presume **‘Well, five cards in order has to be weaker than three of the same card, correct?’**. **Three separate instances of the same card**, this seems like it should be impossible, right? However, the **straight** is really the one that comes out ahead — and **figures never lie**.

Let’s break it down. What are the chances of hitting a straight? From a standard 52-card deck, there are only **10,200 ways to make straights**. Sounds like a lot, right? However, stack it up against **three-of-a-kind**, of which there are **54,912 possible combinations**, and all at once our straight doesn’t seem quite as impressive. **All but a fifth as common actually**. How come straights beat three-of-a-kind in poker rankings?

A buddy of mine, I recall, lost **multiple hundred greenbacks** betting for or against the Yankees to win that series. He had **trips**, still the **most arrogant person in this world**, thinking HE won. Later, his opponent turned over a **straight**, and he just went like **ohhhh**. Oh, and **I CANNOT BELIEVE I LOST TO A STRAIGHT**! Well, believe it. The fact is that **straights are just more powerful** — mathematically.

The probabilities of getting **three-of-a-kind** from the seven cards are at **4.83%**, and hitting a straight is only **4.62%**. Sure, while they are quite close, **Hold’em wins out when it comes to the straight**, and that makes **straights** a bit tougher to attain, hence them holding more power in rankings.

Now, imagine experiencing the following: you are sitting at a card table with an impressive threesome, grasping, believing that it is a **winning hand**. A moment later, however, the lone opponent tables a **seven-high straight**. What do you do? Some things, you just got to learn — **straight beats three-of-a-kind**; and although your hand may look really pretty before the flop…

**Why Is a Straight Stronger Than Three-of-a-Kind**

Alright, why the hell would a **straight beat three-of-a-kind**? I understand — it sounds strange at first. **Three-of-a-kind sounds pretty strong**, right? But the true answer is in **math** and usage.

Consider, for example, the ranking of poker hands. **As in poker**, the more difficult hand to make beats an easier one. It’s not just how **badass or classy** your hand looks but rather **how uncommon it is**. And guess what? **Straights are so rare** that **three-of-a-kind beats one**.

The truth of the matter is, there are **10,200 ways** a straight can be made in a typical **52-deck card**. These are fewer than the **54,912 ways to make three-of-a-kind**. And that is why they rank higher. **In poker, rarity matters**, which is why **straights beat three-of-a-kind**: **Straights don’t come that often** (% of hands) as **Trips** do!

**Well, the obvious response** to that might be “But it seems like **straights** are everywhere at all these events!” Yeah, okay, true, in some games that may feel like it — but **over the long term**, real straights are more uncommon. I recall one poker night where a guy hailed his **three-of-a-kind** as the ultimate winner before he was pipped by an **underdog straight**. As unlikely as that sounds, it is the rules… and the **math supports this**.

You have a **4.62% chance** of making an **open-ended straight** from seven cards in **Texas Hold’em**. This comes with a **4.83% chance of three-of-a-kind**. Though the numbers are close, that slight gap is enough to **vault straights up on rankings**. And as we know in poker, even the **tiniest of odds** can turn into a **big difference**.

**Frequency of Straight and Three-of-a-Kind in Poker**

Well, let us just take a look at some numbers since in **poker**, more matters. Knowing how often those hands appear can significantly change the manner in which you play and even help make your **decisions at the table** better.

Let’s start with **straights**. A **straight**, which as you might know, is **5 cards in a row**. What are the **odds** to hit a **straight** in **52-card play**? There are **10,200 different combinations**. They are much rarer when compared to the whole spectrum of possible **poker hands**.

**Three-of-a-kind** is almost the opposite, though. There are **54,912 possible ways** to create a **three-of-a-kind hand**, which is over **5 times the amount** of combos as a **straight**. This large frequency discrepancy is the reason why **straights always outrank flushes** on a **poker hand chart**. **Less common = more valuable**.

I just can remember one time where a buddy of mine was sure he had the best possible **three-of-a-kind**, and lost to a straight. He couldn’t believe it and thought he got a **bad beat**. The reality of the situation was, he hadn’t accounted for **how often those hands came**. **Straights are only so frequent**, and thus **stronger when they appear**.

**How to Recognize a Straight and Three-of-a-Kind**

The **difference** between a **straight** and **three-of-a-kind** is the **most vital distinction** to understand when learning **poker**. Both of these hands are strong, and to prepare you for that, I am hereby explaining the **formation behind each hand**.

The **straight** was unremarkable. A **straight** consists of **five connected cards**. For example, 5-6-7-8-9. The important part? They **do not have to be the same type of card**. A **straight** can be of different suits, as long the cards are in a **sequence**. For instance, **7♥ 8♠ 9♦ 10♣ J♠** is a straight. **Easy, right**? That’s essentially a **straight** of five cards.

The trick is to get the **order correct**. If you’re ever stumped, just look for **all five consecutive cards**, irrespective of suit. One of the toughest things about **straights** is that they can be **semi-deceptive**, especially when so many cards are **spread out on the board**.

Now, onto **three-of-a-kind**. This one is a bit easier to catch. **Three-of-a-kind** is a hand where you have **three cards of the same type**. For example, if you have **three 8s**, so the **8♣**. Then the full one is really easy. It’s that **straightforward**. Unless the other two cards in front of you aren’t forming specific combinations such as a **full house** (3-of-a-kind plus a pair).

I have seen people in the game **landlocked on a straight** when it was really broken or run with their thinking that **three-of-a-kind is underwhelming**. Always **double-check your cards**. **Straights running five cards** are always straights, anything below that and they weren’t even close to it. A **three-of-a-kind** is simply when you have a **set of matching cards** – no excuses.

**Leveraging the Power of a Straight**

As it pertains to **poker**, an understanding of what a **straight** can do for you gives serious **competitive edge**. While hands such as a **broadway outside straight** can get you paid, there are much more effective ways of utilizing our **equity** with the **solid hand** that is an **open-ended straight**!

Well, to begin with, you need to realize that there are **fewer hands** where **straights** can be made compared to another hand like… **three-of-a-kind**. This means that even when you do hit one, the **odds are good** so you are usually a **huge favorite** to win it, but don’t be too **results-oriented**. You need to know when to **bet big** and when to go **stealthy**. It can be difficult not to have your **straight-card value** face up, especially if there’s been **no strength** shown on the **community cards**. Take the opportunity to surprise them and **squeeze as much value** out of this deal as you can.

But **timing is everything**. If the straight is out there, such as if the board comes with **five cards in sequence**, other players might wonder whether you have it. Well, in that case, you’ll need to **play it smart**. Your **first raise** shouldn’t scare everyone off — you’re trying to **build the pot** without tipping them off that you have a **monster hand**. Another tactic is to be **choosy**, take it easy in the beginning, and save your hand for when you need a **home run**.

Keep in mind that **straights** are always weak to hands like **flushes** or **full houses**. Therefore, while a **straight** is strong, it’s not invincible. Once the board grows those big hands, you have to **think twice** about where your set is at. If you consider someone else has the **flush**, slow down, do not **risk too much**.

**Players make the same mistake with straights**; they can be **over-confident** and power cards home to find themselves **beaten by a full house** or **flush**. Don’t fall into that trap. **Beep-boop**: **Play your straight** like it was always coming, but be **wary of the board**.