CardSharp Mailbag: A Set On A 3-Suited Board

No Limit Texas Holdem, Reader Questions

February 27, 2009

Hi Wayne,

I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now. It is on the top of my RSS Reader and I love it because of your very logical way of describing optimal play.

My question is how do you play a low set on such a suited board?

Recently playing $1-$2 cash no-limit at the local casino. I had a $200 stack and was in early-middle position and called an under the gun $10 raise 2h2d. There were 2 other callers behind me and the blinds folded. The flop comes Ks 10s 2s (I hit my set!). The raiser checks and I lead out with a bet of $20. Only one caller who has me covered from the cutoff and everyone else folds. The turn brings a blank (7d) and I fire 50$ and get called again. Now I’m thinking they other flopped it or have a massive draw but I am determined to bet again if a non club hits. The board comes a non Club Queen so I’m about to fire the third bullet but then realize that card completed a straight for AJ or J9. I have $120 behind. I check and of course the villain puts me all in. The pot was laying great odds (shoulda followed the payoff rule) but I was still struggling to make the call… I didn’t want to go home broke …looking for a read or anything. After some mental deliberation I announced I was gonna flip a coin and if it came heads I would call … it came tails and I folded. Later the villain claimed he had KQ.

Any thoughts on playing a set on a all suited flop?


This is a good hand to discuss – it gets at a lot of things I’ve been writing about over the last month or so.  I don’t like your line much at all, and I think I can help you out.

I’m OK with the preflop play, especially given the 100BB stack depth.  This is a good place to set farm with position.  The calls behind cost you position but make it much more lucrative on average if you flop the set.  You’re in good shape.

Now, on the flop I think things go awry.  Let’s start by asking some commitment-related questions.  If you’re not familiar with commitment decisions, read all the articles about halfway down this page.

Now the questions:

  1. Do you think you probably have the best hand (as of the flop)?  The answer here has got to be ‘yes’.  Occasionally you’ll be beat by a flush or a higher set, but most of the time you’re good.
  2. Are you committed per the genie’s dilemma?  I would have to say ‘yes’ again.  There’s $40 in the pot thanks to a bunch of loose low-stakes calls.  You have $190 behind. You’ve got all but a few hands beat, and if you are behind to a flush it’s not horrible – only about 2:1 against.
  3. Are you weakly, moderately, or strongly committed?  I would say moderately.  You’re clearly still afraid of another spade, so you’re not strongly committed.  But you’re not going to be easily scared by additional betting action on this street.  Even very strong betting could be something like an AA or AK with the As or a two pair or something.

Now that we’ve answered those questions, it’s time to implement the strategy for moderate commitment, which is to try to get as much money in the pot this street as possible.  With the preflop raiser declining to c-bet, you’re definitely going to have to take the betting lead here.  The question is how much you should bet.  I’m going to say $20 is WAY too low here.  In a bigger game where I was worried about being consistent with my bet sizing, I’d probably go a more standard $30 (3/4 pot) or so here.  But in a 1/2 game where the opponents often misinterpret or ignore bet sizing, I’d go at least $40 and possibly even $50 or $60. Your goal is to get as much money as possible in or take down the pot, and at $1/2 you often have some latitude to do that in ways you couldn’t do in bigger games without tipping your hand.  I’d use it.

Once you bet say $50 on the flop (assuming you get called) and catch a safe turn card, there will be $140+ in the pot and $140ish in your stack.  You’re still moderately committed, so moving in at that point is the only play.  If you catch a bad turn card (a spade pretty much), you’ll have to implement the payoff rule.  Since you will have charged a lot to draw and it’s hard to credit villain with more than about a 3:1 against draw for one street (typically more like 4:1 or worse), you’ll be willing to pay off your entire stack.

Anyways, where this ends up is that you should have ended up all-in no later than the turn here.  Your opponents did a nice job of bloating the pot preflop by having so many callers for an oversized raise, and once you flop the set your hand is way too strong to let all that money rot out there while you opponents draw on the cheap.

Hope that helps.

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One Response to “CardSharp Mailbag: A Set On A 3-Suited Board”

  1. Hans Says:


    Just recently discovered this site and I’m really glad I did. I’m a winning player (8 tables 1/2NL on Full Tilt) but still have many questions about certain scenarios. One question is this: I’m a big believer in never folding KK pre flop unless we are super deep stacked. At what point is your stack too deep to go all in with KK pre?

    Thanks and I will be telling my friends about your site!

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