Set Mining: What It Is, How It Works, and When to Do It

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Set mining in poker refers to calling a raise on a preflop with the sole purpose of hitting a set. A set refers to a three-of-a-kind hand (three cards of identical rank combined with two other cards of a different identical rank).

This hand represents one of the strongest positions in the game and commonly wins the pot when played. Players generally have about a 12% chance of winning with a set mining strategy. Set mining takes experience and skill, as determining the best time to apply the strategy is crucial to chances of success. 

The particular odds involved with a raise can determine whether you should fold or mine for a set. Looking for attractive odds, such as 15 to 1, is recommended when set mining, as the small odds involved with a successful flop means the potential pot should be worth it. Professionals have suggested that players have an 8 to 1 chance of mining a set, thus the reason behind the recommended odds of 15 to 1 earlier mentioned. 

How Set Mining Works

Set mining is generally played with low to medium pairs ranging from 22 to 77 when the odds look in the player’s favor. No strategy guarantees a player will land the card they need on the board, and this strategy can be likened to playing the lottery.

The primary elements a player depends on when targeting a set include that no other player has a better hand (such as a flush or four of a kind), you have good odds on the board drawing the card you need, and no other player has a higher pair than your own. The higher the pair in your hand, the better your chances of having a winning set.

Mining sets are most successful in cash games because the stacks involved in such game variations are deeper compared to tournament alternatives. To mitigate losses, players with small-value pairs in their hands should fold to large raises or reraise after the pre-flop to try to force some players out.

Set mining works best when you’re in position as it encourages additional bets while allowing you to fold if the hand turns against you. 

Knowing When to Set Mine 

Considering the low odds involved when targeting a set, timing can be everything. The number of people behind you, for instance, the stronger your pocket pairs need to be to call a raise. This is because the more players behind you, the higher the risk of someone having a stronger hand than yours.

Larger pocket pairs such as 77, 88, and 99 are the best hands to have when mining a set. Avoiding a flop is recommended when dealing with smaller hands, such as a pair of fives or lower. Your position can also influence your chances of mining a set.

You can call a raise with medium pairs, such as fives or sixes, for instance, when you’re on the button. Set mining should also be avoided in cases where the player is getting squeezed after cold calling, and the initial raiser decides to call. 

Taking the size of the bet into account is also crucial when considering a set mining approach. Players are generally advised to reach for a set when facing smaller odds compared to larger stakes.

Most players will only significantly raise the stack when facing near-unbeatable odds. Players squeezing about 5x or more the initial raise should serve as a red flag. Those around the range of 2.5x, on the other hand, represent good chances of winning.

Dealing with recreational players is generally the best time to practice set mining. Such players tend to call no matter the hand their opposition holds, making it easier to target a successful preflop. Players that apply such tactics are referred to as loose and aggressive opponents.

The stacks involved should be large enough to justify set mining when working with small to medium-pocket pairs. Implied odds play a big role when it comes to set mining. Considering the 1 in 8 chances you have of flopping a set, you must initiate this strategy when the pot is big enough to be worth the risk.

Implied odds refer to the potential value of a pot further on in the game. They are dependent on the predicted actions of an opponent. It’s also essential to be deep-stacked when implementing this strategy, as you will only have 1 in 8 odds of taking the pot. As such, you need enough funds to risk the losses that come with an unlucky call. 

What to Remember When Set Mining

Some of the essential elements to keep in mind when set mining during a game include: 

  • Set mining is not a long-term strategy and shouldn’t be implemented repeatedly; otherwise, opponents are likely to catch on fast and use your approach to their advantage. 
  • Calling a preflop with higher-value cards raises your chances of success, while small and medium sets represent a significant risk. 
  • A set is not the highest hand in a poker game and can be beaten by at least four other hands. 
  • Flopping a set will only work if you keep your potential hand well-disguised to hide the strength of your cards from the opponent. 
  • It’s worth noting that even though pocket pairs don’t frequently come up, you shouldn’t always jump at each opportunity. Gauging your position is crucial to identifying your best option. 
  • In cases where you don’t hit a set, folding is the best course of action to avoid increased losses. You may also attempt to bluff your way to a win if you strongly sense your opponents have a weak hand. 


Set mining might not feature high odds but can be quite lucrative because of their potential as a hidden hand. However, this should not be your sole focus in a game and should only be an alternative if you feel you can’t develop a stronger hand. 

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