Set Mining in No Limit Texas Hold’em

Set mining is a term used in no limit texas hold’em games to describe when you have a pair in your hand and you are trying to hit your set on the flop. A set is another word for trips. So, if you were dealt 5’s pre-flop, and the flop came down 6-5-K you would have a set of 5’s, which is a monster hand.

When you’re playing small pocket pairs such as 22’s through to 66’s you really are trying to hit a set or get out of the pot because you are pretty much always going to be faced with overcards on the flop, in which case a lot of the time you can’t be sure if you still have the best hand when you miss your set.

Hence, the importance of set mining, because when you hit your set, you can be super confident, especially on non draw heavy boards, that you do indeed actually have the best hand. But it always a good idea to be set mining in no limit texas hold’em. In order to set mine profitably you will need to take into account a few different factors.

First, whenever you are considering set mining with a small pocket pair (calling pre-flop with the aim of hitting your set) you have to remember it’s a speculative hand which is drawing to a set. This means you are trying to make a big hand without investing a lot of chips into the pot pre-flop. Then when you make your hand, you can look to start building a big pot, not before you hit though.

When you look at the math of set mining, you have roughly a 1/8 or 12 percent chance of hitting your set. However, there will rarely ever be a situation where you are getting 8 to 1 immediate odds to make a call. This doesn’t imply you can never set mine profitably, though. What this fails to consider is the implied odds you are getting to make the call. When you are playing deep stacked no limit hold’em, you can be getting great implied odds to try and hit your set. When players have super deep stacks the more opportunities you will have to set mine.

In addition to estimating implied odds, you also need to have a good idea of how you expect your opponents to play. You’re going to be getting greater implied odds when you’re playing against weaker opponent since you know they find it difficult to find the fold button. Fishy players that have a tendency to overplay top pair hands are ideal candidates for set mining. Some players just get way too attached to hands once they decide to go with their hand. For example, they’ll call a large pre-flop raise with QT and won’t be capable of folding on a 4-Q-7 board. So, you will stack them when you have 4’s.

If you are playing against a nitty regular that is capable of getting away from top pair top kicker, then set mining becomes less profitable, since you likely aren’t extracting enough value when you hit your hand to make the speculative call pre-flop a good one.

Beginner no limit hold’em players will tend to overestimate their implied odds though when set mining. You really need to be deep stacked. Even when you put your opponent on a strong range that consists primarily of big pocket pairs, you’ll have situations where you hit a set but an Ace comes on the flop, which scares the other player because they have KK and are worried that you actually have the Ace. So, you can’t always expect to get paid off when you are lucky enough to flop a set. In heads up pots, you will want to be getting at least 12 to 1 to consider set mining.

It should go without saying that set mining is a lot more desirable when you’re playing large multi-way pots. With the number of players involved in the pot there is a far greater chance that someone will hit the flop reasonably hard as well. In multi way pots, you’re also getting much better immediate odds to make the call, which means you don’t need to extract as much value on later streets to make the call a profitable one.

Keep in mind, that you’re not always looking to set mine when you’re dealt a pocket pair. Some pairs have greater showdown value than others. Small pocket pairs will rarely get to showdown or be the winner in multi-way pots. However, 77’s and better pairs will have some showdown value depending on the board, so when you play these starting hands, you are not just looking to hit your set. It does mean you will find yourself in some tough spots especially against tricky opponents when they are trying to represent an over card to your pair.