Poker Strategy: Tips for Set Mining
It’s always nice to start a hand of Texas Hold’em with a pocket pair. Or is it? Those smaller pairs (Deuces up to Fives) can be tricky to play. If you’re in early position, you don’t really want any action; you could easily be up against a larger pair, and if not, chances are you’re only slightly ahead in a coin-flip situation. Much better to open these baby pairs from late position, where you have a higher chance of getting everyone else to fold – or at least be in position if someone does call.
But what about when someone else opens early and you’ve got one of these small pairs? Now you’ve got a chance to make a speculative play known as set mining. You could call that open-raise (preferably in position) and see a flop, hoping to complete a set and take down a big pot. However, as with any clever move you might deploy when you play poker at Ignition, set mining has a time and a place. Here are three tips to help you get the most out of this tactic.
Know Your Odds
If you’ve been dealt a pocket pair in Hold’em, your chances of making three of a kind on the flop are roughly 11.8%. That’s somewhere between 7-to-1 and 8-to-1. In other words, get used to disappointment: This play will not work the vast majority of the time. Which leads to the next tip.
Know Your Stack Sizes
Since you’ll only complete your set 11.8% of the time on the flop, in order to make your initial pre-flop call worth investing, you have to get paid more than 8X the size of your call in order to show a profit in the long run (turn and river cards not factored in). That means both you and your opponent have to have enough chips in your stacks to make the math work for set mining.
Here’s the tricky part: Those stacks have to be way more than 8X. Think about all the times you’ll still lose this hand when you complete your set. And when you do win, you won’t always get to stack your opponent, no matter how skillfully you play the hand. Because of this, the standard recommended stack size for set mining is more like 20X the size of your call – and you need to be playing No-Limit Hold’em to get those stacks in often enough.
Know Your Opponent
Because winning large pots is so important with these speculative plays, they’re best used against opponents who play loose, aggressive poker and are willing to put that money in for you. When you’re the player in position, your opponent has to act first; if they bet out, you can call the flop and turn, then raise the river if the board doesn’t look too scary. That’s where your set mine can really turn into a gold mine.