A pair represents the lowest-ranking made hand in the standard poker hand rankings. A one pair hand consists of two of the same ranking card, along with three other unpaired cards in a five-card hand.
One pair hands beat high card hands, but a pair loses to every other made hand. For example, three-of-a-kind, straights, flushes, and everything above that in the hand rankings beats a pair.
A pair is still often good enough to win the pot in a game of Texas Hold’em, however. An example of a one pair hand looks like this:
Note that the other three cards in a one pair hand must be unpaired cards. A hand like A♠A♥T♦T♣2♥, for instance, makes two pair. Other examples of one pair could be hands like 8♠8♥6♠3♦2♣ or K♥K♣9♠5♠4♦.
If two or more one pair hands go against each other at showdown, the higher-ranking pair wins. For instance, a pair of kings (like our K♥K♣9♠5♠4♦ example) beats a pair of eights (8♠8♥6♠3♦2♣).
If two of the same ranking one pair hands battle each other at showdown, the pair with the highest-ranking kicker (the highest of the unpaired cards) wins. For example, K♥K♣Q♠T♠7♦ beats K♥K♣9♠5♠4♦, as the Q♠ kicker in the first hand outranks the 9♠ kicker in the second hand.
How Does a One Pair Hand Rank?
One pair hands beat high card hands, but all other made hands in the poker hand rankings beat a pair.
If you randomly draw five cards from a standard 52-card deck, you have a 42.2569% chance of making a pair. That can also be expressed as 1.366-to-1 odds against drawing a pair.
A regulation poker deck yields 2,860 distinct ways to make a one pair hand. Factoring in suit combinations, you have 1,098,240 different possible ways to make a pair.
Texas Hold’em requires players to make the best five-card hand out of seven possible cards. In a game of Texas Hold’em, you have a 43.8% chance of making a pair with all five community cards on the board. This equates to 1.28-to-1 odds against making a pair.