Is Set Mining Profitable? Yes, But You Need to Do This

Is Set Mining Profitable?

People often ask me if set mining is still profitable these days in poker. And the answer is yes, but only if you do it correctly.

Many people do not know that this is actually the #1 strategy that I have used to crush the micro stakes games online for some of the highest winnings of all-time.

What is set mining in poker? Set mining in poker is when you call a raise preflop, usually with a small or mid pocket pair such as 22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88 or 99, with the sole intent of trying to flop a set (three of a kind), and win a big pot.

But many people make the mistake of not set mining with the right odds. Typically, you want your opponent to have at least 15 times the raise amount you need to call in their stack.

So for example, if your opponent raises to $4, then they should have at least $60 in their stack. But there are still many other factors to consider such your position at the poker table.

Let me explain more below.

Set Mining is Profitable When You Have the Correct Implied Odds

So why is your opponent's stack size so important when you are set mining?

Well, it's actually quite simple. If they do not have enough stack behind (money or chips), then you simply don't have the correct odds to call.

And this is because you do not have good implied odds. Implied odds in poker refers to the amount of money that you stand to win if you hit your hand.

Because here's the thing.

In poker you are only going to flop a set with your small or mid pocket pair roughly around 12% of the time.

Ya, not very good right?

And what this means is that most of the time when you call a raise preflop (with your small or mid pocket pair) you are just going to have to fold on flop when your opponent makes a continuation bet.

This is why there needs to be a large potential payoff (in terms of their stack size), so that you can turn a large profit when finally do flop your set.

Makes sense right?

Take this poker hand for example where I explain it for you in more detail.

In this hand we raise preflop with pocket 5's and get 3-bet (re-raised) by a loose and aggressive player.

Now normally I would actually just fold in this position versus this raise even though we are getting the right implied odds.

And this is because we are out of position.

Even more importantly, we are calling a 3-bet here. Calling a single raise is one thing in poker, but calling a 3-bet is a totally different story. You usually need a stronger hand than this.

You can't profitably call 3-bets out of position with a hand like pocket 5's. For much more on this by the way make sure to check out my ultimate guide to playing optimally in 3-bet pots.

Set Mining Versus Recreational Poker Players (Fish)

The interesting part in this hand though is when a recreational player (fish), calls in the big blind. We are in position versus this player (meaning we get to act after him/her postflop).

So this helps gives us much better odds for set mining. In other words, this now is a situation where set mining could potentially be profitable.

The problem though is that this recreational player only started the hand with 40 big blinds. And this just doesn't give us enough implied odds to make set mining profitable here.

If this player had 100 big blinds to start the hand then it is a totally different story. But typically in situations like this where the fish is short stacked, you just want to fold preflop.

While it is wildly profitable to set mine against poker fish (because they are unable of folding anything as we all know), once again, there needs to be a potential payoff.

40 big blinds just isn't enough.

And this is because we are still going to miss our set 88% of the time on the flop versus the fish too! Therefore, they need to have enough chips in their stack to make set mining profitable against them.

This is something that all poker pros already know.

Set Mining is Much More Profitable When You are In Position

The other thing that you have to consider when set mining is your position at the poker table. As I mentioned already, it is extremely important to realize if you are going to be acting first or last after the flop.

And the reason why this is so important is because you are always going to be able to make much more money in poker when you get to act last.

This is because you are able to get in so many more value bets or bluffs and also save money by folding when it is clear that you are beat.

Getting to see what they do before you decide to act in poker is such a massive advantage that your win-rate when you are in position can be as much as 5 times higher than when you are out of position.

If you play online poker and use a tracking program like PokerTracker, then you can simply go and check your results for yourself.

Go see your results for yourself when you are in position versus out of position. I think you just might be a bit shocked how much more you win when you are in position.

The bottom line is that in order to make set mining profitable it is very important that you pay attention to your position at the poker table.

If I am out of position, then I typically want them to have a much larger stack before I consider calling preflop to try and hit my set.

Remember that number that I mentioned off the top, 15x the raise remaining in their stack?

Well, I will make that more like 25x if I am considering calling a raise while out of position for all the reasons that I just discussed.

By the way, if you want to know if poker as a whole is still profitable these days, I just made a video on that as well.

Final Thoughts

So is set mining profitable in poker? Yes it is.

In fact, I have made a fortune set mining at the micro stakes poker tables over the years. And it is a big reason why I have made such an absurd amount of money in these games.

By the way, I discuss this in much more detail in my new Elite Poker University training. 

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But you have to make sure that you are getting the correct odds. I typically want them to have at least 15 times the size of their raise in their stack before calling.

But my position at the poker table is also extremely important. If I am out of position then I want more like 25 times their raise size in their stack before I will try and set-mine them.

Furthermore, set-mining is always going to be much more profitable versus recreational players than good regulars because they don't know how to fold anything.

But you still have to have the correct odds of hitting your set versus a fish. In other words, you still need to make sure that you are getting the right implied odds.

And this is because you are still going to miss your set on the flop 88% of the time no matter what player type you are up against.

If you want to know much more about the set mining strategy I use as a 10+ year poker pro, make sure you grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Let me know in the comments if you think set mining is profitable. When do you set mine in poker?

Is Set Mining Profitable?


  1. There's another consideration besides stack size, and that's will your opponent pay you off if you hit your set? I favor set mining players who tend to overplay TPTK and overpairs. Against a tighter player who wants to keep the pot small with TPTK and can find that fold button when it's obvious you're not being co-operative in keeping the pot small, t'ain't worth set mining.

    1. Good points Dolphin. It's very important to set mine versus players who can't fold a hand like TPTK or an overpair.

  2. It depends of the ranges we give each other. If you use pocket pairs only for setmining, you will waste a lot of money. Smaller pocketpairs hold well against combos with showdownvalue such as AQ etc.

  3. Great article Nathan! Please help me understand the math behind this. If I flop a set 12% of the time then that's 8-1 against. So wouldn't my opponent having 10x in their stack be enough to make this a profitable play? 15x seem a little overkill doesn't it?

    1. Perhaps that takes into account the number of times you will lose???

    2. Hey Dennis,

      As Cas alluded to above there are many other factors in play here. For example, your opponent has AA and hits a higher set or makes a running flush. It's a small chance but it WILL happen from time to time.

      Also, we have to remember that many times they will have a hand like AK (unpaired) that cannot pay us off.

      This is why as I stated in this article you need a lot more odds to set mine profitably than most people think.

    3. I saw on different forums that even 20x is not enough in 2019, mostly out of position if you limp they will know it. But I like Blackrains aproach with 25x out of position, that is very balanced and logical.

  4. Great article Nathan. I've won quite some money with set mining but apparently I also lost quite a lot by not getting the right odds pre flop. I will now use the 15x/25x rule.