Mine the Poker Table and Get the Most out of your Small Pocket Pairs

What is Set Mining in Poker?

Set mining can be a very profit profitable play, but many players mine the poker table too liberally and incur extra losses because of it, thus knowing what to look for before set mining, to increase your win rate is of utmost importance. With that said, Set-Mining can be defined as, calling a raise with a pocket pair PREFLOP, with the goal of flopping a set and getting paid for commonly done with smaller pocket pairs PREFLOP specifically deuces to sixes. Taking quite the number of unprofitable set-mines proves to be quite the way to set money on fire. Thus proper set-mining is much demanded.

Set Mining Explained

To have a successful set-mine, we should first have a hint of the about the price needed to make this a reality. The answer to this lies in the frequency or how frequently we will flop a set. Our chances for a successful hit lie at an estimate of 11.8% of the time. Thus regarding direct pot-odds, our investment should be less than 11.8% of the total pot. All of which stems down to implied odds. However, in practice, these calculations are not absolute and might turn out to be inaccurate at times since:

We might make our set, but loose to the villain since they might have a higher or better hand betting us

We might think our hand is not good and also end up folding

Opponent might get all in with worse odds, but end up making a better hand by the river

Getting the Villain’s whole stack is not guaranteed

Although on the other side things might turn in our favor forming quite the plus side for:

Sometimes we don’t need to directly hit on the flop, on sight of free river/turn cards

We might end up winning even when we do not hit our set

Thus, with the first cluster immensely outweighing the second group, which makes up for the category which increases our equity. We get to see the need for our calculations to be much more conservative, hence the standard poker rules as detailed below.

The Two Main Rules of Poker

#1. Call – 20 Rule

This rule stipulates that we need to be able to make returns of 20 times our initial investment after the flop. In other words, if an opponent raises to $1, for us to call, estimates must point to making $20 after the flop. Thus if opponent lacks $20 in their active stacks, this will not be possible. It’s not that we need to make 20 times our initial investment on average (PREFLOP), but it more of a strategy to recover from the times we did not extract any value in post flop, or when we set and lost.

#2. 5 – 10 Rule

This rule observes that we should not invest more than 5% of our stack in an observed set-mining opportunity, the only exception being in different scenarios where investments of up to 10% are allowed.

Approximating Implied Odds

In a set-mining framework, implied odds reflect on how much a player expects to make a successful hit. Having good implied odds, reflect a huge payoff for a successful hit, while the vice versa in having bad odds applies similarly, hence taking actions such as folding your hand. Thus implied odds are an aggregation of how formidable your rival’s hand range is, the likeliness of getting paid, as well as the amount of equity to remain for post flop. So in what situations do we have good implied odds?

Rival has a strong hand range – if the opponent has a strong hand range, this means that expected payoff for our sets will be bigger. Contrariwise, the wider your rivals range, the worse it becomes to set mine. Thus a formidable hand range proves to be the ideal preference, so that opponent fold to your bet and concurrently raise less often.

Rival/ Opponent is Aggressive – Best applies to catching weak range villains, with tendencies of calling huge bets as a bluff. Thus this situation also presents forth some good implied odds against such players.

Rival has a deep stack – as it goes with the general rule, the deeper the stack, the sweeter the set-mining opportunity for our implied odds, thus we can make way more than needed for post-flop.

Rival is a fish – it goes without saying that the worse a player is, the better and lucrative your implied odds strike out to be.

The list can also be reversed to show some of the situations where the implied odds are not as lucrative as per our expectations:

When the implied odds are relatively small – Small odd mean low returns so even if we have a successful hit, the expected payout will not be significant

Opponent/ Rival has a weak range – the opponent’s range being wide, increases the likelihood for folding in POSTFLOP, thus decreasing chances of pay out when outset is a successful hit

Rival is Passive – Doesn’t make bluffs, nor does he make mistakes of over-relishing succeeding best hands

Rival has a Shallow Stack – this means fewer chips and less potential wins/ returns in a successful hit

Rival is a good player – might recognize our skills and prowess, thus making a lay down rather than paying us off.


In a wrap-up, it’s important to note that when it comes to set mining, there are mathematical limits and the calculations are only as good as the assessments with regard to rival players. The call-20 and 5/10 rules should act as a rough guideline to fully mastering set-mining. It is otherwise advised to fully assess opponents, and the much you stand to benefit from the implied odds they bring forth.