Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sets are gold

I need some advice.

There's a mantra around bloggerville that "sets are gold." I tend to agree. A well-concealed set usually pays off big.

But how do you defend against them? Is there any way to see them coming? (It's obviously difficult, which is why sets are gold!)

This is how most of my losses to sets go.

I flop TPTK and bet or raise. I get called. Normally, at that point I'm putting my opponent on TP-weaker kicker. On the turn, I bet out. I either get called, or popped back with a raise. (Sometimes my opponent waits till the river to pop back). If the card that came inducing the raise doesn't coordinate the board or match up with typical hole card holdings for a 2 pair, I still think I'm good. At showdown, I'm no good, falling victim to a set made from a low to mid pocket pair.

Of course, there is a ton of information that goes into each street's decision, including any notes I might have on the player, stack sizes relative to the blinds, etc. I can usually smell a trap pretty well, but there are so many players that overplay their top pair, weak kicker that generally, it pays to grit your teeth and push forward. On the other hand, I can be accused of overplaying TPTK in these cases.

How do you tell when you're up against a set? Is there anything that tips you off?

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8 Comments:

  1. SirFWALGMan said...
    I am not nearly good enough to sniff out a set.. but when someone pops me and I have TPTK I need to consider if I am beat.. I need to consider it real hard if I am play NLHE, but in LHE it is hard to fold to the 2 bets left.. I think I would make more if I did, maybe..
    Tony said...
    Shelly--

    In LHE, as Waffles said above, it's much harder to sniff out a set, especially since betting TPTK and getting called could mean that someone has KJ to your AJ or it could mean anything down to a draw or bottom pair.

    I'm (as world-famous as I can be) world-famous for flopping a set, smooth calling the flop and raising the turn, especially if I know that my opponent will play TPTK like the nuts. Just keep this in mind--the average winning hand in Texas Holdem is two pair. Anything less than that and you may be in trouble to a raise. It's really tough to lay down TPTK on an uncoordinated board, but once the raise comes, you're best to go into check-call mode to save bets.

    There's a reason why your small and medium pairs are the hands that usually net you the highest winrate per hand in LHE, and it's because it's just so damn easy to disguise a set.

    You need to play TPTK strong, because of all the donkeys who overplay TPMK or their overcards, but when it gets popped back to you, especially by a relatively weak/passive player, proceed with caution.

    BTW--did you see the game today? Great overall performance against the Isles, but yesterday against the Devils scared me--it's getting close to playoff time and we don't need the boys folding to solid teams...

    Best of luck!
    Xorply said...
    Well, I guess it kind of falls under the hazards of the game. And it depends if you're playing limit or no-limit. In limit you can be pretty mechanical if you're suspicious that you're up against a set and either pay him off if the pot odds are worth it or fold and move on to the next hand. In no-limit you'll be more relying on your read of your opponent, $$$ at risk, and so on.

    Sometimes you just have to pay them off and move on.
    Bloody P said...
    It's the small sets, I think, that kill you, and they're really hard to see coming.

    Example:

    I get dealt AK0 in middle position. It's folded to me and bump it to 3x the BB. Everyone folds except the BB, who calls my raise.

    Flop: AK4

    I flopped top two pair, and start jamming, not paying attention to that measley little 4 hanging around out there. This guy keeps smooth calling my raises (no flush or straight draws to speak of on the board besides the AK), and since he's not popping me back, I put him on Ace/rag.

    Yeah, dude/dudette had pocket 4's, and when I go all-in on the river, I'm bounced out of the SnG.

    Stinkin' sets.
    cc said...
    I just immediately put the call and check/call chips to the side and give them to the set after I'm check/raised on the turn. I can't see into anyone's soul for sure. The other way I defend is to river quads, which seems to help sometimes.
    Chane Steiner said...
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Chane Steiner said...
    Hey what's up? I came accross your profile at myspace and decided to check out the blog.

    I added you as a friend to our poker forum profile for TheRoundersRoom.com. Check it out if you get a chance. :)
    wattyballs said...
    I agree with just about everyone's comments here. Of course, just like everything else in poker... it depends.

    In NLHE:
    Against your average joe at the low limits that I play, I'm just going to get broke with a hand as strong as top two pair on the flop if he's got the set. Those idiots overplay TPAK (top pair, any kicker) so much, that I'm not going to overanalyze myself to death, I'm just gonna pay him off.

    With a vunerable hand like TPTK or bottom two pair, I'm going to proceed with caution if someone plays back at me when I THINK I should have the best hand. Here it just becomes a matter of how much I have to gain/lose in the situation. I'm not going to necessarily try to make a great read and make a great call if something just doesn't seem right. You'll come across a better chance to get paid off soon enough.

    If you're playing against a more savvy opponent or someone you've played against a lot and have a great read on (i.e. - you know they habitually overplay TPAK), then it's a different story and it gets more into deeper levels of thinking.

    Limit
    Just go into check/call mode and pay off the extra 2 big bets for his raise on the turn and bet on the river. In the long run, against an average joe, I think you'll make those bets up when they overplay their crap hands.

    Just my two cents and I realize I've rambled on a bit - sorry.

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