We know what mining means when it comes to diamonds and gold, but what is a mining in poker? Set mining is a poker term, meaning you have a pocket pair and hope to make a set on the flop, turn, or river. That will give you a very strong hand combination and might set you up to win a large pot.

When you match your pocket pair to another card on the flop, there’s no feeling like it.

Many players will call preflop with any pocket pair, hoping to see that special 3rd card on the flop. Is that the right strategy? Should you always try to set mine? Another good question is; should you continue to set mine on the turn and river if your opponent is betting?

Let’s talk about situations where set mining makes sense.

Bill Perkins successfully mines a set of Jacks

When you go mining for a set, it’s important to know what the chances are. The odds of flopping a set are easy to remember.

In general, you can expect to hit a set on 1 out of every 8 flops.

The exact odds of making a set on the flop are 7.5-1, with a roughly 12% probability.

If you don’t see your card on the flop, what are your chances of seeing it on the turn?

Let’s do a quick calculation.

There are 52 cards in a deck, but you need to minus the 2 in your hand and the 3 from the flop. 2 cards will complete your quest for a set.

52 – 5 = 47

Out of those 47 cards, 2 cards give you a set.

47/2 = 4.1%

You only have a 4.1% chance of hitting your set on the turn.

If you don’t see your dream card on the turn, the odds on the river card improve to 46/2, or 4.2%.

Chance of flopping a set12%
Chance of hitting a set on the turn card4.1%
Chance of hitting a set on the river card4.2%

Quickly calculate the probability of hitting outs on the turn and river by using the rule of 4s and 2s. Count your outs first.

If you still have to see the turn and river cards, multiply your outs by 4.

If you only have the river card to see, multiply your outs by 2.

So for a set, we have 2 outs that we want to hit on the turn or river. 2 cards x 4 = 8% across the turn and river.

If we don’t hit on the turn, we multiply our 2 outs by 2, which gives us a 4% chance.

Paul flops a set, but disaster hits on the turn

If you go set mining with low and middle-sized pocket pairs, sometimes you’ll have a situation like this happen. While playing cash games on GGPoker, Paul Punts flops a set of 8s on what poker players call a “wet board”. This term means that there are a lot of potential draws that opponents might be chasing.

In this case, his opponent already had two-pair.

This gave them 4 outs to beat Paul’s set of 8s; two Kings and two 10s.

Using the rule of 4s and 2s, we can calculate that the opponent has around a 16% chance of making a full house (4 outs x 4 = 16%).

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Consider these factors before you decide to set mine.

1. Should you be 3-betting instead of calling to set mine?

Passive players might call to set mine when they should be 3-betting. Consider a re-raise before automatically calling the preflop bet, especially when you are in position. Don’t call a bet or a raise with a hand that is strong enough for a re-raise (most of the time).

2. Are you closing the action or could a player raise after you call?

If players are acting behind you, there’s a chance you could get forced out of the action before your mining operation gets to the flop. It’s best to close the action, meaning that you are acting last in the hand.

You should aim to get around 2 to 1 pot odds when you set mine. If you need a guide, check out our short guide on pot odds, which includes an odds calculator.

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3. Are you short or deep-stacked?

If your chip stack is small, say around 10 – 20 big blinds, you might not want to call. Set mining is most profitable for players with deep stacks who can afford more risk.

If you are short-stacked, think about playing your pocket pair more aggressively or fold. If you have a strong pocket pair, it might make more sense to 3-bet.

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