Trips flops are the rarest kind of flops in poker.
Out of a total of 22,100 distinct flops, only 52 of them are trips flops. This means that you will encounter such a flop once every 400 flops or so.
Nonetheless, trips flops are still part of the game, so it’s still worth your time to learn about them.
This article covers playing as the preflop aggressor (in position) as well as the preflop caller (out of position). The focus will be on single raised pots involving the Button against the Big Blind because this match-up is the most common and it’s quite easy to extrapolate to other positional match-ups.
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How To Play Trips Flops as the Preflop Aggressor In Position
Let’s start by dividing all trips flops into two categories:
- High trips: AAA-888
- Low trips: 777-222
There is one key strategic difference between these two types of boards as it relates to playing in position as the preflop aggressor:
- When the trips is high, you should use a smaller c-bet size (33% of the pot)
- When the trips is low, you should use a medium-sized c-bet (50% of the pot)
Let’s take a look at two PioSolver simulations, which will help you visualize the strategy.
First up, here’s how the solver plays as the preflop aggressor on 777:
The solver bets (effectively) 100% of the time on 777, mostly opting for a medium size of 50% pot, though there are some 33% pot and 66% pot-sized bets mixed in as well.
Now, compare that with how the solver plays 888:
On 888, the solver still bets (effectively) 100% of the time, but it mostly goes for the smallest bet sizing option (33% of the pot).
Now, let’s answer some questions you might have.
Why does the Button c-bet 100% of her range on both flops?
To put it simply, the Button has a massive range advantage. This is due to the fact that the Big Blind has a much larger amount of trash hands (like 64s) with which he defended preflop.
Additionally, the Button has a nut advantage because she will always have overpairs like AA–TT, as well as the strongest no-pair hands like AK and AQ. The Big Blind should never have these strong hands because he did not 3-bet before the flop.
The Button can leverage these advantages by betting 100% of the time, which forces the Big Blind to fold a lot of his range.
Why is the optimal bet size larger on the low boards compared to the high boards?
There are way more hands with two overcards on the low trips flops. The Big Blind can easily call a bet with these hands and realize equity with them. For this reason, the Button can increase her bet size a little bit to give the Big Blind a worse price to call.
How does this strategy change if you’re in another position against the Big Blind?
As the aggressor, you will always have a massive range advantage on trips flops. So, the strategy doesn’t really change.
How To Play Trips Flops as the Preflop Caller Out Of Position
As you just read, the Big Blind preflop caller is at a massive equity disadvantage on trips flops.
Because of this, you will have to fold a large portion of your range versus a c-bet — much tighter than the minimum defense frequency. How much tighter is dependent on two factors:
- The size of the c-bet (fold more versus bigger bets)
- Which position you are playing against (fold more versus earlier positions)
Time for a couple of examples! Again, the focus will be on a Button versus Big Blind battle in which the former raised preflop and the latter called.
Example #1: 777
After checking and facing a 33% pot-sized bet on a 777 flop, here is how the solver responds:
The big takeaway is that the solver implements a very high check-raising frequency (21%), and the size of the raise is on the small side. This check-raising range is merged, containing the following value hands:
- All combinations of quads except A7 (which blocks the calling range)
- Around half of the low pocket pairs
- Some Ace-highs for thin value and protection.
The solver also check-raises some semi-bluffs, including:
The bottom of the calling range is somewhere around the JT-J9 offsuit region. But these hands are called at a very low frequency, and are also included in the raise range some of the time. Other marginal calls include Q5-suited and K5-suited with a backdoor flush draw.
(Note: Is this strategy what you expected? Let me know in the comments below.)
Example #2: AAA
Now let’s take a look at an AAA flop, also against a 33% pot c-bet:
Compared to the 777 flop, the solver does more check-raising (27%) on the AAA flop. This change stems from the fact that the Big Blind has many more combinations of quads than before — i.e. you defend preflop with more Ax hands than 7x hands — thus the semi-bluffing range can expand too.
The raise size still leans small and the range remains merged. Here is a summary of the value range:
- 80% of the quads combinations are check-raising for value
- The pocket pairs are check-raising for thin value/protection as little as 20% of the time and as much as 75% of the time (depending on how vulnerable the pair is).
The semi-bluffing range is comprised of:
- Mostly K-high hands
- Some strong Q-high hands
The reason the solver semi-bluffs these hands is because they have a relatively good chance to improve to a strong hand by the river. When you check-raise, get called, and hit a King or a Queen on the turn, you suddenly have an extremely strong hand. Maybe not strong enough to value bet for multiple streets, but strong enough to have a very good chance of winning the pot at showdown.
Trips boards are extremely rare, but the strategy for playing on them, especially as the aggressor, is so simple that it only takes a small amount of study time to play a great strategy.
As the defender, there is a bit more work to be done, but once you understand the underlying mechanics, it becomes much easier. Practice makes perfect!
That’s all for this article! I hope you enjoyed it. As usual, if you have any questions or feedback feel free to use the comment section down below!
Want to learn how to play another relatively rare (but important) board type? Read How to Play 4-Straight & 4-Flush Boards Like a Pro (3 Key Tips for Each).
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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