This question may well be subjective and may well be closed for it but it's a question i've been dying to ask since this site was proposed:

What are some signs that you're up against a set.

Let me give you one scenario where it worked out in my favor. I was playing $1-$2 when I picked up AJ-heart suited and limped in on the button. My stack was about $250 I think p1 was about $75, can't remember p2's stack size. Three players to the flop and it comes down A-J-2 (forget the suits it was forever ago - but rainbow for sure).

p1: check

p2: min or 2 blind raise

me: re-raise 2-4 more blinds.

p1: re-re-raises all in.

p2: fold

well I hemmed and I hawed and I eventually called. He just didn't seem like he had it. When I didn't call or fold instantly his reaction just didn't quite seem right. In the end I called him to find he had A-2 for a worse 2-pair.

I lucked out that time. And I wondered for a while before calling if he had a set.

This is by far the weakeset part of my game. Any pointers on how to sniff out sets a little better is greatly appreciated.

Also, please don't tell me that I should have folded in this situation without some details as to WHY I should've folded.

  • How deep were the stacks? Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 21:42
  • updated my question a bit
    – Ramy
    Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 21:50
  • Was p1 the small blind or the big blind? In the bb he could have any 2 cards, in the sb J2 is less likely, making the set correspondingly more likely.
    – DanTilkin
    Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 4:41
  • i don't believe he was on a blind. This hand, again, was a long time ago at a brick and mortar place so I can't refer to the hand history.
    – Ramy
    Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 18:08

2 Answers 2


Limping AJs on the button was probably a mistake (raise), tiny raise with top 2 in a tiny pot was probably a mistake (raise bigger), and calling the all-in is pretty easy in this spot. Against the tightest range we can assign villain in this spot, you are a favorite:

Board: Ad Js 2c
         equity   win     tie     pots won  pots tied   
Hand 0:  55.395%  42.77%  12.62%  6775      1999.50   { AhJh }
Hand 1:  44.605%  31.98%  12.62%  5066      1999.50   { AA, JJ, 22, AJs, A2s, J2s, AJo, A2o }

In general, people will play 2 pair, sets, and overpairs pretty similar on the flop. They will also likely slow down on the same sorts of flushing turn cards. You always have to put your opponent on a range - someone showing set-type aggression on a flop of K82 rainbow is more likely to have a set than on a board of JT9 two-tone, because the first board has very few 2 pair or overpair type hands, and no draws, while the second has 2 pair, straight, straight draw, flush draw, and overpair possibilities.

  • +1 great answer. 1.) I do need to be more agressive generally so that's a great observation. 2.) to @JohnDibling's answer's point, because i wasn't more agressive, calling here was probably a bit of a mistake. If I were more agressive, he probably wouldn't have gone all in and I wouldn't have had so hard a decision to make. I was initially asking advice for sniffing out sets in general but this turned out to be great specific advice.
    – Ramy
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 13:52
  • Against an opponent range of only sets and 2 pairs, you are ahead. You don't have enough evidence in this hand to narrow his range any further than that. You can discount AA because that usually gets raised preflop, which puts you further ahead. With a $75 stack at $1/$2, there is also probably a ton of AK/AQ in this guy's range, which puts you even farther ahead. Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 14:02

So, let me see if I've got this straight. You're playing 1/2 live, and 3 people limped in to see a flop. So the pot is $6. You flop top two, p1 checks, p2 bets $4, you raise to $10, and then p1 check-raises to $75?

He has what he thinks is a very good hand. This is almost never a bluff against an amateur, non-maniac, non-drunk player. The reason is simply this: when a non-expert player makes a bet so large that it commits him to all his money, he usually expects to win. He might be bluffing, but he is not bluffing nearly as often as you may think. His bluffing frequency is about as close to "never" as you can get without actually saying "never."

That's not to say that you should fold necessarily. All I'm saying is that he thinks he has a great hand -- but his perception of relative hand strength might be completely warped. You need to sit back and think about the kinds of hands he has shown down before. Does he have a propensity to overvalue hands? If so, he could have a weaker hand like worse two pair or even just top pair. If not, if he's kind of nitty when all the m,oney goes in, he probably has a range that more closely resembles the actual nuts.

  • 1
    +1 for the advice. This is exactly why the decision was difficult. It was obvious he thought he had a very good hand.
    – Ramy
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 13:53

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