Are You Set Mining Correctly in Poker?

Set Mining Poker

Set mining is something the majority of low stakes poker players do wrong. They’re either doing it with the wrong stack sizes, from a bad position or against inappropriate opponents. In this article, I will briefly explain what set mining is and what factors to consider before calling raises hoping to hit your set.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

What is Set Mining in Poker?

Set mining poker is a term that describes calling a raise before the flop with the intention of hitting a set or three of a kind on the flop a win a big pot. 

What are the odds of flopping a set?

The chances of flopping a set with a pocket pair are quite remote. You will flop a set approximately 1 in 7.5. In other words, you will hit three of a kind almost 1 in 8 times you try. That is not very often is it? Moreover, when you do hit your set, you won’t always get paid off.

Implied Odds

This is the phrase poker players love to use to describe a situation where they are making a call because they anticipate a large pay off if they make their hand. This is the reason you see Daniel Negreanu calling raises with three five suited. He doesn’t mind calling 2 and half big blinds in the hope of winning 200 from a weak player who is prone to overplaying top pair or overpair type hands. 

The things you need to consider when set mining are: stack size of opponent, their tendencies, likely hand strength and the likelihood of getting their stack.

What are the Considerations?

Set mining isn’t just about holding a pocket pair, calling any raise and hoping to hit. You need to look at several factors before choosing to set mine. The list below are some aspects to consider with reasons why.

Opponent

If your opponent has a tight range then your chances of getting paid are higher. Conversely, facing a player who opens lots of pots and plays well post flop is tougher. You can’t assume you will get paid off quite as easy or for the same value against a good LAG. As they are playing more hands, their range is more balanced, less weighted toward overpairs and big cards that make top pair.

If your opponent is a standard, rubbish LAG type , you can get paid. The difference is critical. A bad LAG is someone who is playing lots of pots but prone to mistakes post flop. They are the type of player to get stubborn with hands as weak as second pair. Against them, you can still set mine profitably.

Table Image

If you have a tight image, you don’t have the same implied odds as a looser image. This is because your check raises and big bets command more respect and have gravitas. Players also (foolishly) weigh up whether you’re on a heater. If they think you are, they may not pay you off. This is more common in live poker games than online where people pay very little attention to who is running well and who isn’t.

Position

Set mining out of position is not easy. You may try for a check raise and miss a street of value when they check back. You are not closing action so it’s hard to manipulate the pot size. Let’s say you check/call a flop bet and check again on the turn. Your opponent may opt to pot control and check back, particularly if the turn brings a danger card.

Set mining in position is much easier as you can dictate the pot size with greater freedom. You are the one closing the action and therefore in greater control.

Opponent’s Mental State

An opponent that is dejected or psychologically weak isoften more liable to pay you off. This is the same for an opponent playing on tilt or if they are suffering from burn out. They will simply curse their luck and pay off bets if they’re not on their A game. They will probably moan “it’s a cooler” or “I got a bad beat“.

On the other hand, a player who is playing well and winning is probably going to be in a good mental state, able to fold decent hands post flop.

If I am facing a tilted opponent who raised from under the gun, I’m licking my lips with a small pair, praying to bust him if I flop my set.

Set Mining Tips

Set mining is great against donkeys, pay off wizards, nits and with deep stacks. There are plenty of these types in any online casino Singapore. To set mine profitably, consider the amount you are calling before the flop, multiply it by 8 and if your opponent has that or more and you’ve factored in the considerations above, make the call and good luck!

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Photo by Bart Van Dijk

What is Small Ball Poker?

Introduction to Small Ball Poker

A poker strategy that has exploded in popularity in the last few years, small ball is an overarching poker mentality used successfully by professionals, yet often misunderstood and poorly used by novices. There are several components to playing small ball; hand selection, bet sizing, position and table image.

Hand Selection

Small ball poker dictates playing a lot of poker with a variety of hands. If you want to attack many unwanted pots, you need to widen your opening range. This varies player to player, but most professionals accept that suited connectors, suited aces and the paint cards have the most play-ability and equity to warrant including in opening raise ranges.

Bet Sizing

Small ball poker is what you expect, small bets. Professionals understand that a smaller, probing type bet accomplishes the same thing as a bigger bet and for less risk. This means many cheap bluffs.

The underlying concept is that the player is consistent though. It’s no use sizing your bets differently based on hand strength, otherwise your opponents will correctly read your hand. It doesn’t take long to figure this out.

Consistent bet sizing is critical to small ball poker. It means you can accomplish cheap bluffs but also extract value.

Position

As always, position is important. Small ball experts will play as many pots in position as they can. They understand there are an abundance of chips to be picked up in pots that people aren’t interested in contesting. As such, they will be opening an incredibly high amount of pots in position when it folds to them and also be calling raises in position if multi way and cheap. The reason being they can risk few chips to gain many. They understand the implied odds. They can play the three four of hearts for a small raise when stack sizes are 100 bb + because they are risking 2.5 big blinds to bust a weak player who is prone to overplaying their pocket Aces on a 3s 3h Kd type flop.

Table Image

The beauty of small ball is the image you project to your opponents. By playing many pots you are giving the illusion you are a bit wild and almost certainly a bluffer. After all, you are playing many pots and often betting and winning without showdown.

On close inspection though, the small ball expert is not betting crazily and big amounts. They are often betting 30-50% of the pot and carefully wagered, often heads up pots or when the time is right. In short, the table image a small ball player projects is perfect! An opponent may notice after hours of lost pots, take a stand and then bust out when they finally realise that the small baller is only playing big pots with monster hands.  

Warning

Small ball requires a player to be expert before and after the flop, experienced and attentive. Don’t try this style of poker if you are not confident playing many different scenarios. It’s also worth pointing out this is not the ideal strategy for most cash games and is mostly utilised in tournaments to build a stack without much risk.

This article has touched on just a few parts involved in small ball poker. If you are interested in knowing more or want mentoring in small ball, email us at info@texasholdemquestions.com.

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Re-Raise Early Position Opens

A Tricky Re-Raise Against Early Position

When was the last time you 3 bet an early position raise with junk? How many times in your last session? This move is heavily underused these days and barely discussed. But, there is a lot to be said for putting in a re-raise again an early position open, from an active player. I find this play to be one of the most profitable pre flop moves available at the moment.

Why Bother ReRaising?


Most good thinking players have opened their game up. They are quite liberal opening from anywhere on the table these days, even early position. A good player will be opening suited connectors and suited aces from early position. Strong players open-raise these because they are hands with great play-ability and equity, even multi-way. They are representing something stronger so it fits in line with stories told post flop.

The great thing about players opening wider from early position is the opportunity to 3 bet them without resistance. They won’t hesitate to fold pre flop when facing a re raise as they no longer have the lead in the hand and want to play in position. The best way to counter this strategy is to simply re raise and pick it up before the flop. This works very well against the good players, and when you are in position in the hand. 

The weak players will often open raise wide pre flop too. Weak players will occasionally call the re-raise but then fold unless they flop something. A continuation bet is usually all that is needed to win the pot.

Either way, the strategy is effective against both types of player. The key component is that your opponent has shown a willingness to open wide from early position.

When is a Good Time to Re Raise?


You can do this at any point in a tournament. Please make sure you and your opponents have sufficient stack sizes. It’s important you are not committed for lots of chips. It’s usually a good idea to do this with hands that have poor equity or showdown value. That way you know you are not losing anything if you get 4 bet and you are unlikely to get stubborn post flop. You know you are playing this as a bluff. It’s ok to do it with ace rag too as this has some blocker value. 

I don’t recommend doing this with hands that play well post flop as much as you should be more inclined to play post flop with these hands, particularly in position.

This strategy was demonstrated recently in a low stakes MTT on PokerStars.  I made a point of trying to find as many opportunities to re-raise pre flop, in position. It’s quite fun to employ this strategy and very effective!

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