Implied Odds Mean That Hitting Trips Can Be Profitable In Poker.
This Article Looks At Special Concerns For Set Mining In SNGs!
Playing small pairs before the flop in the hope of hitting a concealed set can be a profitable play in any form of poker. In SNGs there are special issues which mean that this play can easily become a costly mistake. This article looks at the concerns and strategy concepts involved in ‘Set Mining’ in Sit N Go Tournaments. I highlight the right and the wrong ways to go about trying to spike a set!
Implied Odds are at the heart of playing smaller pairs. I will cover this area first, showing that your implied odds may not be as high as you think. The main set mining errors are positional ones – this is the next part of the article, covering the important concepts of both absolute and relative position. Finally I'll will tie in the tendencies of your opponents (and indeed the whole table) to the subject of set-mining, before recommending a site where you are significantly more likely to be paid off.
Set Mining In SNGs - Implied Odds Basics
The chances of hitting trips on the flop when you hold a pair are around 8-to-1 against. That is, for every 9 flops you see, on average one of them will contain the 3rd card you need to hit your set.
Implied odds describes the potential amount of money you could make those times you do hit that hidden set. If you call pre-flop and either you or your opponent have less than 8 times your call in remaining chips, then you do not have the correct 'implied odds' to have called in the first place. That is to say, even if you hit and get paid off every time you do so, you still lose money over time.
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Things are not quite that simple. Some times when you hit your set your opponent will miss the flop and fold. Other times you might lose the pot, for example to a higher set or a flush. Still other times you might get some bets in on the flop, only for a scare-card to fall on the river... meaning you lose your opponent at that point.
Together, these factors mean that you actually need more than 8-to-1 odds pre-flop to make playing small pairs for set value profitable. A suggested ‘margin’ to take these into account may be to ensure you have the potential to win 12 times your initial bet or more. This should only include odds against a single opponent. It is very rare to get all-in against 2 opponents, and even more rare that you will have the best hand at the river when you do.
In the early stages of SNG tournaments I like to have more than 12-to-1 on my call. The reason for this is that players in these games are often cautious during the early stages (people know that they need to get to the bubble to make big profits from their opponents mistakes). For this reason I like to have 15-to-1+ for calling with small pairs - and use the mid-pairs for moves in the early-to-mid stages, for example re-stealing or pushing over several limpers.
Set Mining In SNGs - Positional Factors
Position at the table is the most important factor after implied odds when it comes to successful set mining: below are 2 examples of where position causes potential problems:
Example 1 – 1st Hand of SNG – Stacks 1500 Blinds 30/15 - 9 Players
UTG ('Under The Gun', First to act) – Raises 3 times Big Blind to 90 chips
You – Holding 55 – Flat Call
The problem here is that you have 7 or 8 players (depending on the site) yet to act. The potential implied odds may have been there based on the stack sizes alone, but the risk here is that someone will re-raise and force you to fold – or even worse there will be some smaller raises ahead which force you to call (due to the enticing pot-odds), committing more of your stack than you anticipated – and importantly more than is profitable with a small pair.
Example 2 – 1st Hand of SNG – Stacks 1500 Blinds 30/15
UTG - Limps
Next Player - Folds
Next Player - Limps
Next Player - Raises to 90
Next Player - Folds
Next Player - Folds
Button (You) - Holding 44 - Call 90 Chips
Small Blind -
Big Blind -
In this example you have position, a big advantage in any poker format. But yet again your call does not guarantee that you will get to see a flop for your 90 chip investment. What is more, your relative position is bad. Assuming the ideal scenario of both limpers calling the pre-flop raise, and then you hitting a 4 on the flop does occur, it will be more difficult than usual to get ‘paid off' here.
The reason is that you are sandwiched between the initial pre-flop raiser and the 2 other players in the pot after the flop. Usually (though not always) hands are 'checked to the raiser' on the flop. If the same player continuation bets as expected, it puts you in a tricky situation, since whether you call or raise your action will look very strong to the remaining players. After all, you flat called a raise from the initial bettor twice - knowing full well that there were 2 players left to act in the hand.
Remember, things are tricky even in the ideal situation. Some of the time one of the limpers will re-raise or maybe bet out on the flop and see the intial pre-flop raiser 3-bet... complicating the decision. If you have observed that the limper or limpers in the hand are passive and more likely to flat call than re-raise pre-flop then you can call yourself more comfortably - especially when these are the kind of players who do not like to fold their 1-paid hands after the flop!
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There are opportunities to play sets after a raise pre-flop, the key question to ask yourself is whether you 'close' the betting. The fewer players still left to act, or with the potential to re-raise if the betting has already been re-opened, the better. An ideal situation might be if an early position player opened the betting and there were several callers before you acted from the big blind. Here you are closing the betting (your call guarantees seeing the flop) and will have great position relative to the original raiser after the flop. If you hit a set and the early position player continuation bets you may see calls from the other players in the hand before the action gets back to you. This will enable you to build a large pot justifying your initial investment.
In summary, good position is key to set mining in SNG strategy. Not only your absolute position at the table but also your position relative to the pre-flop raiser will allow you to get the most out of your hands when you do hit a set. A realistic view of implied odds and taking into account your opponent’s tendencies will help you maximize your profits from this strategy.
Set Mining In SNGs - Player And Sit And Go Specifics
The concepts above work in many poker formats. Sit N Go tournaments have unique characteristics. The super-tight early game strategy means that many players are folding small pairs, especially from early position. When someone does raise pre-flop and face resistance on the low card flop they are less likely to feel that their over-pair (for example) is the best hand. This means that your chances of being paid off are significantly lower than in other poker formats during the early stages.
In the mid-game you will find a mix of stack sizes, which can make calculating your implied odds tricky. You may have the odds to make a raise with a small pair as a combo steal / set mining play against a couple of the larger stacks, but not against the smaller stacks - whose all-in re-raise could lead to a tricky situation.
When you are faced with tricky situations like this your reads and notes on individual opponents can help make decisions. First, you should have noted the 'solid regulars' who follow the super-tight early / steal in the mid-game / super-aggro push and fold late game. Your implied odds are usually far lower against these players. Calling stations and fish are the opposite, they overvalue their 1-pair hands, which makes them more likely to pay you off. Complete novices will tend to give away their monster holdings too, giving you the opportunity to fold with the minumum of losses. Finally, make notes on opponents who love to make moves like 3-betting a lot in later positon or pushing all-in to pick up dead chips... you can set mine from positon against these types, just be more cautious when they are still to act.
Where To Get Paid Off With A Set!
Set mining works best against players who are not experienced enough to fold their 'monster' top-pair / overpair type of hands. As soon as you step outside of the biggest sites, most of the 'small stakes pro grinders' disappear - increasing your chances of getting paid off dramatically (and of making a regular profit too!). I strongly recommend you check out 888 Poker... Their famous casino brand keeps new players coming to the poker room, making the SNGs and Tournaments the softest you will find anywhere online. Check out the 888 Poker Website now for details of their ongoing $8 free trial and latest promos.