Free Online Poker Guide - How to Read Set Hands

Regardless of whether you play free online poker or for big stakes going into a game you have one thing in common, most players struggle with reading the hands of their opponents.

This can be the hardest aspect of the QQdewa to grasp for new players. But once you learn a few tips you will be on your way to clearing house at your friendly table.

How to Read Set Hands

Some hands are very obvious, some are very hard to read and even if you know what they are you aren’t sure if you can plan when to play them. Let’s start with the obvious ones that most new players have a problem with.

First and foremost it’s easy to see what hands are strong or weak, it’s the eyes front. The most important thing to remember is hands like Q-9 or A-4 to be honest. Most players think a strong hand like this will always win. And in fact, they often think until they bleed themselves.

So when you can read your opponent you will be able to time your next move to maximize your earnings.

How to Read Set Hands

Here’s an example of reading a set hand. My pocket pair of fives (5s) was up against J-10 in a LAG tournament. The flop was Q-5-3 and I hit the flush card my opponent needed to complete his flush draw. Sure enough he bet and I slow played, only to reveal the full house behind.

Reading your opponent is key to playing sets. Once you can read your opponent you know when to play and when not to play. You can also know when he’s making a check raise and know when he has the goods.

When you can read your opponent you know the flop value of his hand, his attitude and his general betting patterns. If you can’t guess at the flop why give away free money?

How to Play Small Pocket Pairs

Because pocket pairs are among the easiest cards to play post-flop, this is a great place to see how to play small pocket pairs.


You have 10s-3s in middle position. You raise and get one or more callers. The flop comes 7h-3h-3s. You have nothing but a 7 as your hole cards. What should you do?

Play slow and see the flop. If you have a set here you have the opportunity to set a trap for your opponent. If he has a Q at the sight of the turn and river cards he will most likely check to you, unless he has a strong hand like A-J or K-9.

If you have the set and get a caller, check the turn. If he bet into you, checking would be bad, maybe you should re-raise, and check the river. Maybe he had a straight draw, if you have a high pair you still have the option of a full house, or an over-pair situation.

How To Play A-3s And A-Js

This is similar to playing lower pocket pairs, but a little more tricky. Normally you would raise with A-3s or Pocket 3’s in middle position. You can call a small bet here if a third person also called the flop.

Now the turn comes, and it is one of those blow-the-blinds-weak hands again. You call, and the same thing happens, somebody bets and the small blind calls.

The small blind folds, and the big blind decides to stay in. It’s a fairly safe neck and a half bet here, maybe a half-pot bet would be good and you can find out. Maybe the big blind has A-J or K-J and bluffs with his small chip stack.

Now the middle position player also calls, and the button raises. It’s a quite similar situation, you’re probably not going to win a lot here. Maybe flop the set, but you are probably beaten already by the button’s raise pre-flop.

Maybe the flop is so ugly like 5-7-9 or 2-5-4 you’ll re-raise all in here. If you hit neither a straight nor a flush these are easy to beat if you’re gifted with great cards.

The big blind folds, being the slow payers usually just gives up to anything, so you stay in and the button bets out. You call, the small blind calls and the button raises.

The small blind folds, you feel a bit bad but considering the fact that you have not really made anything interesting in the last 5 or 6 hands, you decide to call, the only hand you should have been playing.

The flop comes, it’s a T, 7, 8, 2 rainbow.

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