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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.

CONCLUSION

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!

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