A recent tournament found me on the short end of an all-in hand. Someone said, “Tough to lose set over set.” To be precise, it was set over trips. There is a big difference, but over the years the terms set and trips have become interchangeable (incorrectly). A set is when a pair in the hole matches a card on the board. Trips are when a card in the hole matches two cards on the board. Sets win money and trips usually not as much. Think about it; sets are hidden and have huge implied odds. When the board flops a pair, every player’s radar starts flashing “trips, trips…trips!” Not being stealth-like, usually makes trips less profitable than sets.
Let’s take a look at the numbers for sets and trips on the flop. First, the odds of having any pocket pair is about 6%. That puts the odds of flopping a set at approximately 10%. The probability of the board showing a pair on the flop is about 15%. The odds of flopping trips are less than 5%. That doesn’t mean flopping trips isn’t a good thing. Just be careful, a set might be lurking in the high weeds. Note: there is less than a 1% chance of loosing set over set.