You would think that playing a very strong hand like 3-of-a-kind would be fairly easy right? Not so! I see lots of opponents muck up this hand by giving free cards at the wrong time or by acting strong when it is possible to slowplay and obtain extra bets on future betting rounds. I think there is an element of panic that creeps in when inexperienced players hit such a big hand. This short article should make playing trips a little easier.
By the way, this article assumes that your 3-of-a-kind uses both of your hold cards.
After the flopYou can slowplay 3-of-a-kind (act weak after the flop with a view to raising at the turn) if the board does not have two of the same suit or any likely straight draws.
To slowplay, check when you are one of the first to act and then call if someone bets behind you. Alternatively, if you are one of the last to act and it has been bet into you (or even raised), simply call with a view to raising next round.
Example 1You hold 2h2d and the flop comes 2c7sKd
With the above flop there are no possible flush draws or possible straights on board. With this flop you might consider slowplaying.
Example 2You hold 2h2d and the flop comes 2c6sKd
Here there is a possible gut short draw for an opponent holding 4,5. However, you are unlikely to run into this type of hand and might contemplate slowplaying with this flop.
Example 3You hold 7h7f and the flop comes 7c6sKs
With this flop there are two of the same suit and any player holding 8,9 or 4,5 would have an open ended straight draw. Under these circumstances you cannot take the risk of slowplaying. It is better to bet in this circumstance and avoid giving a free card. Make your opponents pay for their draws.
A final point I want to make is that you should never check if you are last to act and there have been no bets. This is especially the case if there are lots of players in the pot. By not betting you are giving up too many possible bets that you might extract from opponents at the flop.
How to play the turnIf you slowplayed after the flop naturally you want to be more aggressive on the turn. This might include check-raising from an early position if you are confident that at least one opponent will bet after you check.
If you are in late position you are likely to have someone bet into you if you slowplayed during the previous betting round. You should raise if players bets into you.
If you did not slowplay after the flop you should continue to be aggressive if the turn card did not seem to help your opponents, that is, if the flush or straight cards you are worried about have not yet eventuated.
If you think you are up against a likely flush or straight you should check and call to the river. Remember, you are better than 20 % to make a full house after the turn card comes. If you make your full house you might be able to sneak in a check raise if you are in an early position and you think your opponent has a straight or flush. I would rarely fold trips in limit poker.