♠ Courchevel Hi Lo Strategy: Preflop Sets

Courchevel set before the flop

One of the unique aspects of Courchevel poker is that it's possible to have a set before the flop has been dealt.

This happens when you are holding a pair that matches the door card before the flop.

However, not all preflop sets are created equal, so this article examines different kinds of sets, when and how they should be played, and even when you should fold them before the full flop is dealt.

There are essentially 4 kinds of preflop sets in Courchevel Hi/Lo, so we'll look at each type individually:

  1. Big Set
  2. Small Set with Nut Low Draw
  3. Small Set with a Weak Low Draw
  4. Small Set without a Low Draw

Big Set

This includes sets of Nines or bigger.

The main thing to be aware of is that the kinds of hands you're likely to get serious action from preflop (assuming the stacks are deep) are overpairs with some straight or flush connection to the door card, so you need to be cautious if a highly connected board comes out.

Big sets have so much equity that you can happily move all-in with them preflop at any stack size, although with large effective stack sizes you might want to consider raising small or even limping them from early position in order to make the most of them.

Firstly, let's look at the best set you can have - a double suited set of Kings with the nut flush draw and nut low draw - the Ace also helps by reducing the probability of someone sucking out to a bigger set:
Door Card: K - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A K K 3 2 86.49% 477,077 523,446 2,537 179,330 18,476
* * * * * 13.51% 46,065 74,017 2,537 36,934 18,476

One thing you'll notice with big sets, is that when they don't have a low draw they still have a ton of equity:
Door Card: K - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A K K Q J 75.11% 357,002 537,536 6,974 0 0
* * * * * 24.89% 55,490 55,490 6,974 215,038 0

You might be wondering why I said a set of Kings is the best - we'll it's simple: there's less likelihood of a low coming by the river when you have a set of Kings than when you have a set of Aces. But a set of Aces is still pretty darned good:
Door Card: A - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A 4 3 2 85.08% 444,861 493,440 5,468 352,670 37,585
* * * * * 14.92% 34,446 101,092 5,468 30,522 37,585

However, because a set of Aces means a low draw is more probable than with any other Big Set, they suffer much more than the other big sets when they don't have a low draw:
Door Card: A - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A K Q J 58.57% 195,467 500,833 7,423 0 0
* * * * * 41.43% 91,744 91,744 7,423 381,768 0

In fact, a high only set of Aces can be in a coin flipping situation preflop - something which can't happen with any other big set:
Door Card: A - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A A K Q J 49.07% 148,351 440,473 0 0 0
6 5 4 3 2 50.93% 159,527 159,527 0 444,464 0

It should be obvious that the smaller your preflop set is, the less equity it has due to the possibility of opponents hitting bigger sets after the flop, although big sets with low draws are always a long way in front:
Door Card: 9 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 9 9 3 2 76.18% 404,191 444,081 1,441 180,256 18,426
* * * * * 23.82% 94,765 154,478 1,441 36,355 18,426

Even though the smallest big set has reduced equity when it has no low draw, it's still very strong:
Door Card: 9 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 9 9 T Q 67.10% 322,410 476,670 6,770 0 0
* * * * * 32.90% 116,560 116,560 6,770 214,563 0

Summary: All big sets are quite strong preflop in Courchevel Hi/Lo with the exception of a set of Aces with no low draw.

Small Set with Nut Low Draw

Small sets typically have less equity than big sets due to the increased possibility of low draws coming in as we saw with the high only set of Aces above, and in some cases they need to be played with a little more caution.

Firstly, let's look at the best small set - Eights with a nut low and nut flush draw:
Door Card: 8 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 8 8 3 2 81.03% 407,616 469,885 1,347 343,525 34,733
* * * * * 18.97% 47,487 128,768 1,347 42,543 34,733

As you would expect, taking the nut flush out of the equation does reduce your equity:
Door Card: 8 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 8 8 3 2 77.72% 379,225 437,634 1,462 343,420 35,054
* * * * * 22.28% 56,967 160,904 1,462 42,357 35,054

Interestingly, wheel sets (555,444,333,222) with a nut low draw, are still extremely strong because the chance of a larger set coming by the river is substantially offset by your straight possibilities:
Door Card: 2 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 2 2 4 3 79.50% 398,660 444,554 7,035 352,604 38,197
* * * * * 20.50% 54,664 148,411 7,035 30,356 38,197

This type of small set has its equity reduced less than you might think when you're opponent has the nut low and nut flush draw:
Door Card: 2 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 2 2 4 3 64.35% 189,086 384,285 47,799 0 349,935
A A 3 4 5 35.65% 56,138 167,916 47,799 26,870 349,935

Door Card: 8 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
A 8 8 3 2 67.82% 190,959 442,825 11,166 0 348,859
A A 4 3 2 32.18% 49,158 146,009 11,166 27,186 348,859

Summary: When your small set has a strong nut low draw it is always in good shape preflop.

Small Set with a Weak Low Draw

This is where the first cracks begin to appear in the strength of preflop sets in Courchevel Hi/Lo.

Let's look at the hand in the picture at the top of the page because it illustrates the point very well:
Door Card: 2 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
4 7 2 2 Q 61.67% 253,719 434,212 2,166 151,067 21,539
* * * * * 38.33% 118,059 163,622 2,166 237,003 21,539

That doesn't seem too bad does it? Well the problem is that we only compared it to a random 5 card hand above - see what happens when played against just a naked nut low draw:
Door Card: 2 - 575,486 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
4 7 2 2 Q 53.17% 174,322 417,598 1,625 55,718 4,296
A 3 * * * 46.83% 138,010 156,263 1,625 347,357 4,296

And it gets worse when that nut low draw is stronger and has a nut flush draw to go with it:
Door Card: 2 - 4,860,960 trials (Exhaustive)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
4 7 2 2 Q 46.46% 1,425,321 3,065,486 5,985 0 45,360
A 3 4 5 6 53.54% 1,754,455 1,789,489 5,985 3,224,592 45,360

Summary: These types of sets need to be played with a great deal of caution and it is best not to pot commit yourself preflop when the effective stack sizes are large.

Small Set without a Low Draw

This is where the wheels really fall off the bandwagon, and it's a situation where players who aren't very experienced in split-pot versions of poker make huge preflop mistakes.

As you can see below, you're basically only in a coin flipping situation in terms of equity against a random 5 card hand - although you are still reasonably robust only getting scooped ~27% of the time:
Door Card: 5 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
5 5 K J 9 51.12% 173,445 437,017 3,771 0 0
* * * * * 48.88% 159,212 159,212 3,771 382,610 0

Against a strong nut low draw you're in much more trouble. Not only has your equity dropped significantly, you're also much less robust getting scooped ~38% of the time:
Door Card: 5 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
5 5 K J 9 43.21% 147,489 370,977 0 0 0
A 2 3 4 6 56.79% 229,023 229,023 0 444,857 0

Your equity and robustness collapse when your opponent has a srong nut low draw and a nut flush draw plus an additional flush draw. Now you're getting scooped ~43% time even though you have a set!
Door Card: 5 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
5 5 K J 9 40.29% 138,868 344,665 0 0 0
A 2 3 4 6 59.71% 255,335 255,335 0 444,753 0

Just to see how bad it can get, here's the hand any opponent should be jumping for joy with when they look at their cards - you're now being scooped ~45% of the time:
Door Card: 5 - 600,000 trials (Randomized)

Hand Equity Scoops Wins Hi Ties Hi Wins Lo Ties Lo
5 5 K J 9 38.58% 129,717 333,231 0 0 0
A A 2 3 4 61.42% 266,769 266,769 0 443,887 0

Summary: These types of sets need to be played with extreme caution preflop because if you start to build a pot at this stage you're most likely to get significant action from players with hands that have you crushed. These weak small sets should often be folded to a shove when the stacks are deep, but you will need to play them when your stack has become desperately short for the situation.

Additional Courchevel Hi/Lo Strategy

Premium & Associate Members of Teamo8 can get more information in the 40 minute video "An Introduction to Courchevel Hi/Lo" which covers concepts such as:
- How to use Simulators/Calculators to calculate Courchevel hand equities
- How the door card effects play
- The basics of hand selection and the importance of strong starting lows
- Hand reading basics based upon the door card
- Playing small sets preflop
- The correct way to pronounce "Courchevel"

If you have any questions about playing preflop sets in Courchevel Hi/Lo then please ask in the comments section below.

Comments

Someone asked me in a private email about why I only compared the Big Sets to random hands, but then I compared small sets to premium hands.

There were two reasons:

Firstly I wanted to show the relative strength of the big sets to each other, and secondly big sets don't have their equity significantly reduced by premium hands.

For example, if we take the weakest big set above - A 9 9 T Q - it had 67.10% equity against a random hand, but it's equity only falls to 66.85% when up against A A 4 3 2 - see the results for yourself here.

The random hand's equity is even similar to two over-pairs highly connected to the door card such as Q J J T T at 66.49% equity.

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