What Is A Top Pair In Poker?
In poker, a “top pair” refers to a hand where a player has paired one of their hole cards with the highest-ranking card on the board.
Based on the chances of hitting it and the fact that it beats all other single-pair hands except overpairs, a top pair is considered a strong holding in games like Texas Hold’em, where players often don’t connect to the board.
However, in games like PLO, a top pair is a much weaker holding because each player has four hole cards, and equities run much closer.
Overall, the strength of your top pair combination will depend on several factors:
- Board texture – a top pair will be stronger on dry board than on wet boards
- Number of opponents – a top pair will be stronger in heads-up than in multiway pots
- Action – a top pair will be stronger in hands where there isn’t a lot of raising and 3-betting
Considering all of these factors will help you determine the strength of your top pair in most situations and allow you to make the most informed decision.
Poker Top Pair Example:
Imagine that you are holding Ks Qd, and the board is Kd 7s 8c 2c 2d.
Since one of your hole cards (K) is the same rank as the highest card on the board (K), your hand is characterized as a top pair in this situation.
Your top pair beats all one-pair combinations that your opponent can have and only losses to overpairs, and since you are holding a pair of kings, there is only one overpair to your hand, pocket rockets.