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Lord Admiral Card Club Blog

This weblog is a diary of the backstory to the Lord Admiral Radio podcast.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Some Great emails...

from PhlyersFan

Hi guys -

Long-time listener, and I love your podcast. Thanks for all of the work you put into producing Card Club! I look forward to listening to it each week while driving out to the card room.

I have a question about playing against sets, and would love to hear what you guys think. (Listener feedback also welcome!)

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?

I've cross-posted this question to my blog at


Shelly aka phlyersphan

from David

Can’t access the web at work, but I can access email…
Even given Columbo’s clues, I think this is a fold, given that an all-in raise costs you half your stack (calling and leaving your opp. With enough chips to only cover ¼ of the pot is a definite no).
Let’s say your opponent will raise with any two cards 10 or higher (AKQJT). The odds are (20/52) * (16/51) of getting two unpaired cards that high, so about 12% of the time he’ll have that in his hand. There are (3/51) ways of being dealt any pair; that’s under 6% odds.
So even if your opponents overplay any big cards, they are only twice as likely to have that than to have a pair!
So.. 2/3 of the time he’ll have overcards and you’re 55% to win.
1/3 of the time he’ll have a pair. We’ll discount the odds that he also has 6s, and say there are 4 pairs that you dominate (assuming he’ll raise with cards as crummy as 22 – you’ll be 90% to win) and 8 pairs that are higher than yours (10% to win).
Let’s do this Harrington style.
2/3 * .55 = 36%
1/9 * .90 = 10%
2/9 * .1 = 2%
So you’ll win 48% of the time. You’re a slight underdog even with the big range of hands he’d play.
Given that you have reads on these poor players, wait for a better opportunity.
(I would never post this in 2+2 cuz my math is probably suspect)