Archive for the ‘Poker Strategy Tips’ Category

Set-mining tips – how to do it and not lose money

January 20, 2011 3 comments

You are set-mining when you call pre-flop holding a low pocket pair (22, 33, 44 and 55), with the intention of hitting a set on the flop.

Set-mining can be really profitable, but it can also have a huge negative impact on your bankroll if done incorrectly.

Let’s me make one thing clear: your chances of hitting a set are 1:8.5. And even when you DO catch it, you have absolutely no guarantee that your opponent will pay you off (in fact, most of the time he will simply fold to your first bet).  Therefore, the key to proper set-mining is to have an idea of what you can do if you DON’T hit your set.

Here are 11 of the most important things to keep in mind when deciding whether to set-mine:

1) Calling with the intention to set-mine is always a better idea when you have better position relative to the pre-flop raiser. Position makes it easier for you to play post-flop even if you don’t hit your set;  since he is acting before you, you will gain valuable information regarding his hand and will have a much easier time bluffing him (or simply calling down) with your pocket pair without even hitting a set.

2) It is always more profitable to set-mine when another player has already called the original raise. The more people go with you to the flop, the more likely you are to extract money if you hit a set.

3) always make sure that both you and the pre-flop raiser have at least full stacks (or very close to it). If you or your opponent for some reason have 70 big blinds, for example, you are not getting  good pot odds to set-mine.

4) Do not set-mine if there are aggressive players left to act behind you. Aggressive players like to re-raise pre-flop a lot, especially if someone has already called the original raiser (this is called a squeeze). If you do call with the intention of set-mining and an aggressive player re-raises, you will have to fold, and will lose everything you’ve invested in the hand without ever having reached the flop.

5) It is not profitable to set-mine if the original raiser is an aggressive player, either. Aggressive players, as the name suggests, like to raise a lot, even when they don’t really have a hand. Therefore you are t very unlikely to extract too much money from him when you hit your set. He will probably do a continuation bet on the flop, and will fold to any signs of strength on your part. It might be a better idea to re-raise an aggressive player with a pocket pair (more on that further below).

6) Set-mining when you are out of position should be done almost exclusively in spots where it is a multi-way pot (more than two players total going to the flop), and/or when you and the original raiser have at least 160 big blinds each (this will maximize your winnings in the events that you actually do hit a set and your opponent gives away his stack).

7) Do not cal pre-flop re-raises with the intention to set mine, unless both you and the re-raiser have at least 220 big blinds (2,2 x buy-ins), or unless you have reason to believe you can push him off his hand on most flops. If you are a beginner though, you most likely won’t have this knowledge. If you do, props for you 🙂

8 ) It can be more correct to re-raise your opponent with low pocket pairs rather than call him and set-mine. This is especially the case if you believe your opponent is simply making a bluff  in position or perhaps trying to steal the blinds. Calling to set-mine in these spots is a very bad idea, since he will definitely be making a continuation bet on the flop, and you will have to fold if you didn’t hit your set.

If you re-raise him, however, you have a big chance of taking down the pot before the flop. And even if he calls, you are still likely to take down the pot with YOUR post-flop continuation bet. And if he still calls, you have a small chance of hitting a set on the turn, so not all is lost yet. Just make sure, if you are going to play like this, that your opponent is the type to raise a lot pre-flop with marginal hands.

9) If you do call pre-flop with the intention to set-mine, then miss the flop, and your opponent bets, always fold (unless you have a solid read on your opponent, then you can re-raise him, or sometimes call – is a bit more advanced stuff though). Please, don’t be afraid to fold.

10) As a general rule, and if you have absolutely no reads on your opponent whatsoever AND are out of position, you should not be set-mining unless the call size to stack ratio is at least 1:20. This means that if it costs you 1$ to call, both you and your opponent’s stacks should be $20 at least. Again, this is just a general rule for when you are absolutely clueless about who you are up against.

11) If someone raises, and a super short-stacker (with 10 big blinds, for example) goes all-in, you should not be calling the original raise, no matter what your position is. First of all, you have no chance of bluffing out the guy who went all-in, so unless you hit your set, you will most likely lose to the guy. Second, you are far less likely to get action from the original raiser, because of the guy who already went all-in. People are less likely to bluff or do crazy stunts when someone has already committed their stack, which means you won’t be able to extract much out of your opponent if you hit a set.


That is all for now. I will add some more in an upcoming article, as I don’t want to make this one longer than it already is. What I hope you have learned from this article  is that you should never just blindly call pre-flop with a low pocket pair, hoping to catch a set. You should always stop for a moment and think about what it is you are actually hoping to achieve. How likely are you to get paid off if you hit a set? How likely are you to force your opponent off his hand if you don’t hit a set? Is your opponent’s raise a bluff or does he likely have something here? These are all questions you should be asking yourself before hitting “call”. That’s what winning poker players do.

I hope you will ask me if you have any questions.

Good luck!


Poker Myths – Part 1

January 13, 2011 2 comments

With the popularity poker has gained in recent years, more and more people are talking about making a living as a poker professional. The advantages seem obvious: tons of free time, you get to set your own working hours, you earn lots of money, and you get to work from virtually any place on the planet, as long as there is an internet connection.

In general, all of the above is true. However… consider that various statistics show no more than 5% of all poker players has a chance of going pro. Just a CHANCE. This means that out of every 100,000 people who give poker a shot, 95000 will never have a chance of becoming a pro. In other words, the statistical odds are hugely against you.

Of course, everyone always thinks of themselves as being above average. And that’s good – it means that we all get to excel and evolve, becoming better and achieving the impossible. I am not saying that you cannot be a poker professional, I just claim that it is MUCH harder than you are led to believe. Here are a few poker myths I want to address:


Most poker professionals are extremely smart and industrious. They are the type who could  quite easily plan, implement, launch and maintain their own company. Playing poker professionally is just lie running your own business — you need to manage your capital, invest money wisely,  make tons of calculations, organize your own time, never get lazy, constantly gain new information. If starting your own business/company/shop sounds like something extremely hard to you, chances are high you will find it hard to be a poker professional.


Think again. It is true that you can make a lot of money playing poker. If you are running good. Once you start to run bad, however (and every poker player does, even the absolute best), you will be under pressure and will start playing way more than usual, in order to come out of the downswing and make back the money you’ve lost. After all, you need this money to survive. I know a lot of good poker players who would only play poker for 2-3 hours a day when they were running good, but when a downswing finally came, they would spend 6-7 hours daily for a few consecutive months (including weekends), freaking out in the meantime, wondering if they are ever going to to make money playing poker again.


Wrong. You constantly need to evolve in poker. The field is outstandingly competitive. People who fall into the trap of thinking too highly of themselves, calling everyone at the table “fish”, are the people who don’t make it too far in poker. If you become good and start beating the game, you have absolutely no guarantee that you will be beating the game one year from now. By that time, the level of the average player will be much higher. You need to constantly evolve and analyze hands to keep up with the competition. This alone can take up 1-2 hours of your day.


Playing poker is very taxing. It can drain you both physically (it requires a lot of concentration) and mentally (when you are experiencing a long downswing, you can really start to doubt yourself and stress out a ton over whether you’ll be able to make money further). Although it can make you happier in the sense that you may not need to worry about rent and food, it does come at a cost.


After reading the above you might ask me “then why the heck did you start playing poker in the first place if it is so terrible?”.

First of all, I started playing poker over 5 years ago, when it was a much easier.

Secnond, poker is not terrible. I wrote the article in this manner to bring your attention to the negative sides of poker. The game has been repulsively hyped during the last few years, and it is in everyone’s best interest to bring in as many new players as possible (the casino’s make money off of you, and the good poker players do so as well). It is NOT necessarily in the best interest of the new players. So while poker can be a really great thing, it can also be an absolutely terrible thing. Simply make sure not to put too much faith into it before you’ve played out at least 150,000 hands or so — because only then will you begin to understand what being a professional poker player is about.

Good luck.

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Pokerrooms are NOT rigged

January 10, 2011 2 comments

I hear a lot of beginner poker players complain about this. Here is a typical scenario:

“Man, I’ve been playing at [Insert name of random poker room here] for a few days now, and it seems that each time I flop a top pair, someone has a better kicker! each time I flop a set, someone flops a straight!! This is impossible, the pokerroom MUST BE RIGGED!!”


The poker room is NOT rigged. No poker room is. It is actually against the poker room’s best  interest to cheat their players in any way. The more natural the games are and the more the players win, the bigger the chances they will keep playing and earn the casino more money. The last thing a casino wants to do is drive away its customers.


Because they haven’t learned how variance works. In poker, no matter how good you are, you can literally go on for months and months losing hands in the most outrageous ways. It might seem absolutely impossible and surreal at times. But ALWAYS keep in mind that there is a mathematical justification for what is going on. And once you are experienced enough, you will understand that it is simply a part of the game. It will continue to happen, for ever and ever, no matter how good you get. You can only try to minimize your losses when it happens.


1) Never switch to another poker room just because you are running badly. It is not the pokerroom’s fault, no matter how convinced you might be. Whenever you think of changing rooms, come back to this article and read it again.
2) Never allow yourself to be affected when you are getting a cold deck. It can be hard to stay in command of your emotions, so if you cannot do it — leave the poker tables and don’t play for a few hours. You will notice that with time, you will become more immune to it. To the point where you will almost stop caring.
3) If you find yourself thinking “this poker room is rigged”, realize that this there is simply a weakness in your game that needs to be corrected. Ask for help in some poker forums and let them help you.
4) Some people are tempted to move up the stakes when they are losing. Don’t do that either. Always follow the proper rules of bankroll management. Always.

If you are very new to poker, the article above might sound unreal to you. No matter — just bookmark it in your web browser. There will come a time when variance will hit you so badly that you will absolutely convinced the poker room is cheating you. When this happens, come back here – and re-read the whole article as many times as you need to let it sink in.


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