I was listening to a poker podcast recently and the host referred to his Ah 8h as the nuts on an A 8 2 rainbow flop.

I understand that sets "out-nut" 2-pair, but I believe the intention of the host was that he will be playing his top 2-pair like a set, and if someone flopped a bigger set then its a cooler and too bad.

In this situation the host described they are against experienced players, who are capable of having a wide range and are very unlikely to only have sets in their range.

I am wondering if anyone agrees with this line of thought, and if its profitable in the long run, particularly for top 2-pair, to be played like they are winners (especially on a dry board).

  • It would be nice to know more information about the information the host had before hand, etc. It is pretty unlikely for 2 pair to run into a set so perhaps the host meant it form that point of view that if they have the set vs top two pair it's pretty unlucky.
    – Grinch91
    Feb 21, 2017 at 11:12
  • Against experienced players its going to be hard to only have sets in their range. Similarly I dont think folding bottom set with 22 can be profitable in the long run. the question is if its the same with top 2 pair.
    – sakon
    Feb 22, 2017 at 1:40
  • All 2-pairs are not equal. Top 2-pair (the case) can be pretty much played like a set as the possibility of a AA or 88 is greatly reduced and sort of a cooler. Sure you fear 22 but you still have outs even in this case. I believe that was the intention. Having a 82o pair is way different. Most regulars would play a top 2-pair exactly like a set here, regardless the number of opponents, based mosty on flop texture and villain tendencies.
    – vlzvl
    Feb 22, 2017 at 22:55
  • Thats the answer i was looking for. Thanks!
    – sakon
    Feb 23, 2017 at 1:12
  • Link or reference to podcast?
    – Toby Booth
    Feb 24, 2017 at 8:50

3 Answers 3


While technically not being ''the nuts'', this term is often used when someone smashes the flop and is unlikely to be behind.

In this case A8 should be miles ahead of your opponents range and you should be looking to get some value from Ax, 8x, A2 and maybe some other hands. Of course sets will still beat you, but you cannot be afraid for the monster under the bed. There are plenty of worse hands your opponent will call you with, besides you block most sets. To conclude, yes this hand should definitely be played as the winner here. If you only play sets like a winner in this spot, you really underplay your range, since sets are an extremely small percentage of your range. And ultimately, especially against experienced players, you will get pushed out of the pot way too often.


Top two pair could be behind. Be cautious.

  • You are drawing dead to AA and there is one of those in the deck.
    He could have slow played AA pre-flop.
  • Against 88 you only have two outs and there is one 88 in the deck.
  • Against 22 you only have four outs and there are three 22 in the deck.

Of the 1081 possible hands for your opponent you are behind 5.

  • he is not drawing dead against aces, because he can hit running eights for quads
    – Raymond
    Apr 1, 2017 at 7:26

A8 Blocks sets to where there is only one combo of 88 and AA left and only 6 combos of 22 left. This effectively gives you the "nuts" in a scenario where its highly unlikely that your opponents range has you beat.

  • While useful, this doesn't add anything not already covered in other answers.
    – Herb
    Apr 1, 2017 at 4:40

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