How to Play Trips in No-Limit Hold'em

Jonathan Little

This week's tournament hand finds me making a strong hand postflop — turning trips — but having to be somewhat cautious against an opponent who potentially has a very strong range including hands that could beat me.

The blinds were 200/400 with a 50 ante, and with a healthy stack of 35,000 I opened for 1,000 from the button with {k-Hearts}{10-Hearts}. The small blind folded and the big blind who started with an even healthier stack of about 50,000 three-bet to 3,400. In last week's hand I talked about how you want to be three-betting larger when out of position, which is exactly what this player did here.

I had to decide whether to call, four-bet, or fold, and ultimately I chose to call, and with almost 7,500 in the middle the flop came {k-Diamonds}{7-Diamonds}{2-Clubs} to give me top pair.

My opponent led for 3,500. As I talk about in the video below, with this hand I want to play a medium-sized pot, not a huge one, and so I just called the bet. The {k-Spades} turn then gave me trips, and my opponent bet 5,000 (about a third of the pot).

Even though I improved, I still didn't want to raise for value here, as my opponent could actually have me beat (with ace-king, king-queen, or king-jack) and to my raise would probably fold hands that I had beat. I just called, then, making the pot almost 25,000 and leaving me a little less than that behind.

The river was the {q-Spades} and my opponent checked. At this point, I think I have the best hand most of the time, but do I want to bet here? And if so, how much? Take a look below to see what I chose to do and how things turned out:

In this case I started out getting a little splashy with king-ten suited, then made trips but turned out to be dominated. Looking back, I don't mind my river bet but I'd have preferred to have bet smaller. How would you have played the river?

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,700,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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