27 December 2023
A boat is a hand that consists of three identical ranking cards combined with another set of two identical ranking cards - commonly known as three of a kind and a pair. Examples include JJJQQ, KKKAA, and 33366. They are named via the “X’s full of Y’s” system. X represents the three-of-a-kind, and Y represents the pair. JJJQQ, for instance, will be referred to as Jacks full of Queens, while KKKAA will be called Kings full of Aces.
A full house represents one of the stronger poker hands and often wins the pot. However, the hand is not unbeatable.
The strength of a full boat is determined by the components of the hand. 77788 (sevens full of sixes) will be stronger than a full boat consisting of 66622 (sixes full of deuces) because the three-of-a-kind represents a higher value. The value of the three of a kind generally determines the winning hand.
In cases where players hold the same three of a kind, the value of the pairs determines the winning hand. 77788, for example, wins over 77766. If two players have an exact match, then the game is considered a draw, as no kickers are involved with these hands. The strongest full hand a player can enjoy is AAAKK (Aces full of Kings).
When playing Texas Hold ‘em, a full house is generally a strong hand if all two-hole cards are involved. Targeting a full boat with just one hole card can be risky, especially when involving the lower-value cards on the board. Targeting a full house with 6x holdings when the board features 6677x, for example, can be dangerous because a player only needs a 7 in the hole to beat your hand.
The only hands that can beat a full boat include a royal flush, straight flush, and four-of-a-kind. Making a full house is harder in Texas Hold ‘em, but it also represents a stronger hand than when played in Omaha. Some of the hands a full house can defeat include a pair, three-of-a-kind, high card, flush, and straight.
Some poker games require players to meet specific criteria when targeting a full house. No limit hold ‘em, for instance, holds that a pair at the least should be on the board before a player can declare a full house. Full boats represent a particularly strong hand in 7 card stud games, as three of the cards lie face-down. The odds of being served a full boat in the first round range at 0.1441%.
There are over 3000 combinations that can make a full house in a 52-card deck, giving players a 693 - 1 chance of landing the hand. The potential strength of a full house generally depends on the other players’ visible cards in stud games and the components of the board in flop games. Adopting an aggressive approach is recommended when playing with a full house due to the strength of the hand.
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