Set Mining in Poker: When to Make the Most Out of This Move

Set mining is one of the most lucrative strategies in poker. It involves playing a pocket pair, waiting for your opponent to raise pre-flop, and then calling to flop a set (three of a kind).

When you do flop that set, you have the potential to win big pots, as your opponents will rarely be expecting it. Set mining can be an incredibly profitable strategy if done correctly, which is why so many poker players are looking to get better at it.

Although it is no longer advisable to base your poker strategy on set mining, it is still crucial to comprehend the idea altogether. This tool is unquestionably helpful when appropriately used in the right circumstance.

Photo by Pexels

What Is Set Mining?

Calling with a small or medium pocket pair to make a set and take down a sizable pot is known as set mining. When set mining in poker online or live, you typically have at least 15-to-1 odds on your call.

Your opponent must have at least 15 times what you need to call in their stack. For instance, if the pre-flop bet is $4, your opponent must have at least $60 in their stack to call before you try to see the pot with pocket pairs.

You are around 7.5-to-1 against even hitting your set, so you need at least 15-to-1 odds on your call. Put another way, you will only strike your set about 12% of the time.

You can probably already understand why having the appropriate odds is crucial because when you miss your set, you will typically just have to fold. The number of times you call, don’t get your set, and then have to fold might mount up significantly.

When to Use This Move?

With More Players Behind and Strong Pair, Call a Raise

When numerous players are left at the poker table, and one of them comes up with a hand strong enough to 3-bet, you might be forced out of the pot. You are forced to fold your small pocket pairs before seeing the flop.

In a 9-handed game, for instance, if Under The Gun (UTG) raises and you are in UTG+1, you should only call with powerful pocket pairs (TT+, 99+, or possibly 88+, depending on the amount of the raise) because UTG’s range is quite limited and there are 7 players behind. You could call pocket pairs as low as 55 if you were on the button.

Remember that you can call more pocket pairs if the players ahead are weak and unlikely to 3-bet. When both blinds are weak players, and you are on the button, you can call with every pocket pair down to 22.

Photo by Pexels

Direct Odds of 2:1

A solid rule of thumb is to get a good direct odds price on your call before considering implied odds. But in the end, you’ll have to play poker passively post-flop and depend on good odds to prevail in that difficult struggle.

Do the math if you are on the button with deuces and someone has opened for 4x (4 times the big blind), for instance. You would need to call 4 big blinds in non-ante games because there would be 5.5 big blinds in the pot. The odds are 1.4 to 1. Since this situation won’t work, you need the following two circumstances to be highly favorable to make the call.

Also, you might want to be even stricter if you are out of position. Unless you have a strong range and a hand with solid post-flop playability, seek out at least 3 to 1 odds to flat call when out of position.

Don’t Set Mine if the Original Raiser Calls After Cold-Calling and Getting Squeezed

Overcalling in these circumstances is a losing play. Set mining is rarely a successful strategy since the ranges are too strong and the 3-bet size is nearly always too large.

This approach is particularly applicable to high-level games since, when playing against two skilled opponents, you won’t have the opportunity to stack either as frequently as you’ll need to be profitable. The squeezer and the first pre-flop raiser won’t have the abilities to make your overcall negative EV in weaker games, which are incredibly prevalent. Thus, if your opponent is weak, you can call, take the 3-way flop, and try to get lucky.

You can always set mine if the raiser folds and the odds look favorable.

Photo by Pexels

Call More Pocket Pairs When Your Opponent’s 3-Betting Range Is Tighter

Assume that you raise to 2.5 Big Blinds (BB) with 55 and your opponent in the other hand 3-bets from the button with 12.5BB. You’ve encountered this player several times and think their range is limited to pocket aces and pocket kings.

In this scenario, you need 36% equity to call because you need 10BB to win 28BB. You should still call even though 55 offers 19% equity compared to a range of AA and KK.

Why? You will almost always flop a set and steal their whole stack. You will flop a set about 1 out of every 8 instances, or 12% of the time. This means that to profit when you flop the set, you must win slightly more than 8 times your pre-flop call (10BB) less the amount currently in the pot.

The amount you must take from their stack when you flop a set to justify calling in this scenario is 85BB – 28BB = 57BB. They still have 87.5BB on their stack, so you should be able to retrieve all of it unless a board makes their AA or KK unplayable.

On the other hand, if your opponent has a broad 3-betting range, you won’t be able to call because you won’t consistently win their stack when you hit a set. Most of the time, they just won’t have a hand strong enough to pay you back.

4-bet Shove Pocket Pair with Lower Stacks

There is not much difference between calling and 4-bet shoving when the effective stack falls to around 50BB if you are up against a fairly good opponent (quite balanced). This indicates that you should decide to 4-bet all-in if you are not highly secure in your post-flop game.

This usually applies to poker tournaments, but consider the event’s stage before doing this move. When there are many shorter stacks present, and you are near the money bubble, for instance, you probably wouldn’t want to make this play.


Set mining is a great technique to implement. However, it’s important to remember that this strategy isn’t foolproof. Sometimes, even if you hit your set on the flop, other players may still have hands that outrank yours. Therefore, consider certain circumstances when you can only use set mining to ensure you get the most out of it.