Are You a 12 Percenter? How to Set Mine Properly in Poker
In most areas of life, engaging in an activity with a 12% success rate is not a very smart move.
However, in poker there are players that daily make a conscious choice to make a 12% play.
That play is set mining.
What is Set Mining?
For those unfamiliar with the term "set mining," it refers to playing a pocket pair where the primary objective is to hit a set.
In most cases we're talking about small to middle pocket pairs. These hands by themselves are not incredibly strong in most situations but can become a monster if a set is hit.
The problem with set mining boils down to statistics. When you're dealt a pocket pair, you will only hit a set on the flop about 12% of the time.
In most any other activity, we would stay away from 12% odds. With that said, the reward for hitting that 12% can be huge and is one reason players often chase.
Notice the word chase was used. That's because when you set mine, you're chasing.
The Proper Way to Set Mine
While poker is situational, set mining is one situation that's pretty standard. When presented with a situation to set mine consider a couple of factors.
First: How likely is your opponent to pay you off if you connect your set? Set mining against a tight player might win you a pot, but it likely won't be very big.
Next, what is the pre-flop betting situation? How much action is ahead of you and what are the chances you will need to call a big bet to continue?
A good rule of thumb is to risk no more than 10% of your stack when set mining. Risking more is putting you at a statistical disadvantage from the start.
The 10% rule has a bit of flexibility in cash games. Even then, unless you have a great read on your opponent you probably don't want to go over 20% of your stack to set mine.
In tournaments chips are much more valuable than in cash games so you want to show a bit more discipline when set mining.
Proceeding Past the Flop
One trap that some players fall into is failing to slow down when they miss their set. They feel pot committed and continue chasing in hopes to hit their set.
When you miss the flop, you need to reevaluate the situation to see whether it is wise to continue playing. There are times where you might get lucky and the board falls where your pair might be good, like when you have pocket nines on a 2-5-7 board.
In most cases, though, when you miss the set on the flop you will fold to a bet.
Mine Smartly, Not Blindly
Remember, when you are chasing after a set you will only be successful 12% of the time. This should not be a standard play for each time you get a pocket pair.
Like other aspects of poker, you should mix up your play according to the situation and your opponents.
The numbers don't lie so don't let your "feelings" about a hand override the math. Choosing to set mine smartly will allow you to maximize your profits and prevent you from going broke with pocket threes.