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How to Play Set

A set is a very strong hand, especially against made hands like a top pair, overpair or two pair. Against drawing hands, however, they may perform worse than top pair or overpair since it is much harder to lay down a set.  

First, analyse the board and see if the board has either straight or flush draw possibility. To simplify things, let's suppose you are first to act and is facing off against a single opponent.

Ragged, rainbow board. No draw possibility.

With a ragged, rainbow board, you are very likely holding the best hand with a set. You should bet about 2/3 pot.  

Opponent is tight/aggressive

A tight/aggressive player usually either raise or fold. A raise here from such a player usually indicate at least a top pair with a solid kicker. Very often, he or she will be holding a top pair so you might want to just call here.

The reason you shouldn't reraise here is that you want your tight/aggressive opponent to continue betting on the turn and river. By calling the tight/aggressive player, he or she will likely bet on the turn or river, thinking that you are also holding top pair as well but with a weaker kicker. Also, there is a chance that your opponent's top pair will improve to a two pair or a set. His two pair will still lose to your set while his set will lose to your full house.

Opponent is tight/passive

If you get called by a tight/passive player, it is pretty likely that he or she has top pair or better. You should continue to bet strong on the turn and the river. He will most likely call you all the way to the showdown and pay off your set.

Opponent is loose/aggressive

The loose/aggressive player will reraise you even if he only hit second or bottom pair. Bet and call is the way to go against such players. You don't want to scare them away with a reraise since they usually have weak holdings.

Opponent is loose/passive

A loose/passive player will call you if he or she hit second or bottom pair. Continue to bet aggressively on the turn and river to extract as much money as possible from this player. 

Board suggests straight or flush draw possibility.

When such a flop hits, you should bet more aggressively to chase away drawing hands. Bet about 3/4 pot.

Opponent is tight/aggressive

Tight aggressive players are usually solid players and don't play drawing hands. Hence, a raise here usually still indicates that he or she is holding top pair or better. Again, call this player's raise to induce him to bet on the turn and river. 

Opponent is tight/passive

Similar to the tight/aggressive player, the tight/passive player will call here if he or she is holding top pair or better. Continue to bet on the turn and the river to extract as much money as possible from this player.

Opponent is loose/aggressive

The loose/aggressive player will likely call here if he is drawing. The very aggressive ones may even raise on a draw. Against such players, continue to bet aggressively on the turn to chase them away if the board doesn't suggest that a straight or a flush draw has hit.

Don't get married to your set. The thing about playing against maniacs is that there is no difference whether you are holding top pair, overpair, two pair or a set. Once the maniac hits his straight or flush, it doesn't matter if you have three aces or three kings. So don't pay him off if your loose aggressive opponent reraised you big time when the board suggests that he has hit his straight or flush. Never let your set be an excuse to pay them off. They may be loose maniacs but they are not stupid and so should you.

Opponent is loose/passive

A loose/passive player will call here if he is drawing. A set is very profitable when playing against such players. Continue to bet on the turn and river and extract as much money from them as possible.

Suited or Connected Board.

Precede with caution. Your set has a very high chance of being the 2nd best hand here, especially against multiple opponents. You should still bet the flop here but be prepared to check/fold your hand when you meet significant resistance. Always remember: The best outcome when holding second best hand is to lose the minimum.

Set over Set

The chances of having a set over set is very low, about once every 167 hands. Sets are very well hidden hands and hence, it is very difficult to determine whether your set is dominated by a higher set.

You shouldn't worry too much about having your set beaten by a bigger set as you will run the risk of folding your set to an aggressively played top pair, overpair or two pair.

In any case, you will get your fair share of situations when you are the one holding the bigger set. Hence, don't feel too bad if your set lose to a bigger set.

Going All-in on the flop

You should go all-in on the flop when you have the chance since you are most likely holding the nut hand with a set. Even if the board is suited or connected and your opponent has flopped a straight or a flush, you are not drawing dead. You still have a good chance (about 30%) of beating him or her with a full house or quads by the river.

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