Poker Ranges

As a poker player, one of the most valuable abilities you can have is the ability to recognize and understand different poker ranges.

In a game of poker, we can never be certain of our opponent's two hole cards because of the nature of the game. We can, however, use logical deduction and strong technical knowledge to build our opponent's range and then use that information to make even more profitable plays.

What Is A Poker Range?

All the possible hands a player can hold at any given time are included in the range. In both preflop and post-flop play, a player's range can vary greatly because tight players will have fewer hands in their range while looser players will have a larger number of hands.

To build your opponent's range before the flop, you must keep it updated throughout the hand.

The 4 Forms Of Poker Ranges

Poker ranges are discussed in four distinct ways.

In the long run, your goal is to be able to see them all at the same time. You should be able to tell how many combos are in a range matrix just by looking at it. The visual representation of a percent-form should be readily apparent to you.

The Poker Hand Matrix

The 13 by 13 matrix is a common sighting in video games and movies. Poker players use this matrix to visualize ranges because it lists all 169 possible starting hands (13x13 = 169)

The matrix shows every pair on the diagonal, with every suited combo above the diagonal and every unsuited combo below.

Different color-coding systems are used by different poker software that makes use of the matrix, but selected hands stand out from unselected hands because of their coloring.

Percentage Form (%-Form)

This tells you how many out of all possible starting hands have been selected. This means that if you select no hands, you'd have 0%. You'd have 100% if you picked every card.

There are 1,326 different starting hand combinations when suits are taken into account. There are six possible ways to combine pocket Aces, so the percentage form for AA would be (). 45 percent of the population.

In other words, 6 percent of 1,326 is equal to 45 percent of the total

Percentage-based syncing of pre-flop frequencies with actual hand ranges is extremely useful. Start by constructing the top 15% of hands to estimate your opponent's range if they open-raise preflop 15% of the time.

Range Combos

In calculating a player's potential hand combinations, the term "combo" is used. New players may believe that there is only one possible Ace-King combination, but in reality, there are 16 possible combinations, four of which are suited and the other 12 of which are not.

Range Strand

The range strand is a list of all the selected hands in a string of text.

It's possible to export and import this line of text into your preferred poker software.

What Does 22+ or AQ+ Mean?

A common shorthand is used by players to describe ranges, and this shorthand can be used verbally or in forum posts.

This is a range strand that says "select pocket Jacks and all pocket pairs above it," so JJ, QQ, KK, and AA are all examples of this range strand. If the starting hand has a plus sign after it, you should include all hands that are higher than it.

22+ indicates that all possible pocket pairs should be considered (22, 33, 44...QQ, KK, AA).

Connectors 98s and higher are required for the 98s+ standard (so 98s, T9s, etc.)

Because AQ+ lacks an "s" or "o" qualifier (suited or offsuit), all AQ and AK variants would be included.

How To Calculate Ranges

The range you assign is a combination of your opponent, what they're doing, where they're doing it, and how they might craft that range.

Determine how many hands they will play in each situation before trying to figure out their ranges. Keeping an eye on their frequencies and how tight or loose they are in a specific location will help you here.

The first few hands that a tight player plays will be open-raises from an early position. There aren't many hands in this range because of the low frequency, which we learned about from the percentage form earlier.

When a LAG raises on the button, he or she raises with a greater frequency, resulting in a higher percentage form. As a result, a tight player will not open-raise QT from the button, but a loose player will happily do so.

For constructing ranges, I devised a simple approach known as DEAF:

D: Identify the action taken by your opponent.

E: Calculate how often they occur.

A: Remove any hands that aren't going to be used.

F: Variables that could affect their range

Because players utilize different hands when being passive vs. aggressive (we'll address this later in the forking section), you must first describe their actions. Estimate their frequency and how frequently they would perform this action, as well as how they would appear as a visual range. Then eliminate any hands that might be played differently. Finally, think about whether there are many factors at play that could alter their range (such as having fish behind them preflop or not closing action post-flop).

Start by listing out your open-raising range from each position preflop if you're not sure where to start in your next poker study session. Then write down the percent -form, range strand, and several possible combinations for each one.

How To Use Ranges

The next stage is to create your actual line based on the ranges you've determined for your opponent. To do this successfully, there are a lot of intricacies, but here are the primary factors I make:

Is there a "too large" number of hands in play? Most loose players have a large number of hands in their range that they have no business having.

What will happen when those extra hands are put to use? Assuming those additional hands fold when faced with a raise or re-raise, you have a strong incentive to run bluffs against them frequently based on a simple calculation.

Will the added hostility be maintained by those extra hands? Make sure to focus on getting smaller values since if they refuse to fold those additional hands, they will go on with weak marginal hands. Multi-street bluffing is an option for more experienced players.

Preflop ranges in smaller poker games tend to feature too many hands. For example, you can look for preflop callers with a positive expected value, bluffing 3bets, and a proactive approach to post-flop line creation.

Memorize These 5 Poker Ranges

Using the ranges you've discovered for your opponent, design your line. There's a lot of nitty-gritty involved, but these are the main criteria I look at:

Is the number of hands "too large"? There are a lot of hands in loose players' ranges that don't need to be held.

I wonder what will happen when the extra hands are put to work. Even if you assume that the additional hands will fold when presented with an additional raise or reraise, the simple math suggests that you should frequently execute bluffs against them.

What will happen if those extra hands don't keep up the aggression? Keep in mind that if they refuse to fold the additional cards, they will continue to play with weak marginal hands. For more experienced players, multi-street bluffing is an option.

In smaller poker games, pre-flop ranges tend to include too many hands. Look for preflop callers with a high expected value, 3bet bluffs, and a proactive attitude to post-flop line-creation, to name a few examples of such players.

Ranges That Fork & Split

Consider if the range forks or splits while building ranges. An example of a range fork is the division of a range into multiple sub-ranges.

Pre-flop raises are an example of this. A player's range contains three forks: all of the hands that fold, all of the hands that call, and every one of the re-raises in between.

Using the phrase "this guy tends to continue against preflop raises roughly 20% of the time here" is an effective technique to exploit this. Moreover, they 3bet the top 4% of hands.

As a result, when you raise, they divide their potential hands into two categories: folds and continuations. Four percent will 3bet while the remaining sixteen percent will simply call in those 20 percent of hands that proceed to show their cards.

Post-flop, you can use the same strategy to limit the strength of various ranges. In this case, you need not be alarmed if they simply call your bet, especially if they have a pattern of raising with monster hands and calling with marginal ones.

GTO Ranges

What these ranges signify is critical to understanding GTO (game theory optimal) play and solvers.

All players in an online poker hand are given the exact ranges and frequencies that they should be used by a GTO solver like Pio or GTO+ that uses a set of constraints (such as initial ranges, sizing strategies, and precision). When building a tree, the constraints employed must be correct, else the solution output would be untrustworthy.

There are only a few options left to consider when using a river decision solution. As a result, each earlier street adds a new level of difficulty because of the numerous branches that have been introduced. Pre-flop ranges are the most expensive to perform since the solver computer must examine every potential flop, every conceivable turn card, and so forth.

If you'd like to see what a GTO range looks like in a "simple" situation like a 3bet while OOP preflop, check out this video.

How To Balance Your Poker Range

It is important to maintain a healthy balance of bluff and value hands in your poker range. GTO and indifference points are frequently brought up in the context of this, and a simple example serves to illustrate the issue.

With a pot-sized bet remaining, you decide to all in on the river. What is the ideal range for this situation? So, if you hold two value hands for every one bluff in your shove range, you're exactly symmetrical against your opponent. Your opponent couldn’t add more hero calls or make more hero folds and expect to make any further money.

However, the first thing to consider is: Is it crucial to have a diverse selection? We'll explain all you need to know about this video after you watch it.

Are My Opponents Balancing Their Ranges?

What if the inquiry is, "Do my opponents have evenly distributed ranges?" In short, the answer is "no." There can never be a human opponent with perfectly balanced ranges because it is nearly impossible for a player to implement this.

A good player is aware of both their range and the opponent's, as well as the ability to balance their range.

However, most of your opponents have no idea how to keep their feet on the ground. Because they don't know how many bluffs they should use, they don't know which ones to prioritize.

In other words, 95% of the time, your competitors are

The bluffing is excessive and imbalanced.

Unbalanced bluffing because it occurs too infrequently.

Both types of players can be easily dispatched. When the rare-bluffer fires, continue less frequently, and when the over-bluffer bets/raises, continue more frequently.

Just realize that your opponents at $1/$2 live and 25NL online are not very balanced in their ranges and general approach!

GTO vs. Exploitative Ranges

All bet/raise sizes and actions are considered in the GTO range, which is generated by a solver (such as the GTO+ Bundle offered at Red Chip Poker). It's based on the premise that your adversary will do the same thing. And the output of the solver tells you exactly what frequencies and ranges you should utilize.

Humans can't use pure GTO solutions since they're too complicated. Exploitative ranges, on the other hand, take advantage of a strategic flaw in your opponent.

I recommend viewing the entire video if you're not clear on when to go toward an exploitative strategy instead of using GTO.

Postflop Ranges

Post-flop ranges can also benefit from the techniques we've examined thus far.

Before the flop, establish a strong range, and then carry that range over to the turn and river. Use forks as necessary, and design your line around the range they are likely to possess. Simple!

To be sure, many variables enter into the post-flop ranges of players, all of which have a significant impact on how tight, broad, powerful, or weak their range becomes. To name just a few, there are head-up vs. multiway pots vs. static boards, and in vs. out of position.

I've included a couple of examples that show the ranges I'm assigning post-flop during a hand because they're so changeable in post-flop places.

Improve Your Range Reading Skills

Practice between sessions is the best way to get better in poker, like any other ability. To master poker ranges, you must first have a thorough understanding of the four different forms and develop a strong sense of intuition for them.

Building and enhancing ranges is the next step. It will be easier to use these abilities during training sessions if you practice them more between sessions.

My Poker Math & Preflop Workbook is a great resource for learning about ranges' technical features. Combo, range, and percent-form examples abound, and they are used in a wide variety of situations including three-betting, squeeze betting, and even preflop all-ins.

FAQ: Poker Ranges

1. How Do You Learn Poker Range?

Putting it into Practice In areas where you would have previously checked behind, bet thinly.

  • When you know your opponent can't defend, you can bluff.

  • To observe a showdown, use Pot Control as necessary.

  • Fold in places where his range and behavior indicate that you have him beat.

  • When he's stacked with Weak and Draw/Air hands, call his bluffs.

2. What Is The Best Poker Position?

It is the finest position in poker in terms of advantage. The dealer always gets to act last in every round of betting for that game after the flop. You have the advantage of observing each player in the hand act before making your decision because you are in this circumstance.

3. Is It Necessary To Always Press The Button?

Raising too many hands on the button might lead to you being exploitatively 3-bet by players in the blinds, given that contemporary poker theory recommends aggressive pre-flop play from the blinds. A leak like this might gradually but steadily reduce your win rate, so be careful not to over-raise from the button.

4. Pre-Flop, What Hands Should You Fold?

You should fold if you have a weak or subpar beginning hand. If you have a strong starting hand, such as the ones listed above, you should be content to call and wait for the flop. If you have one of the best starting hands like AA or KK, you should re-raise to try to get the most money into the pot.

5. What does GTO poker mean?

Game theory optimal (GTO) poker is an umbrella term players use to describe the holy grail of no-limit holdem playing strategy, by which you become unexploitable to your opponents and improve your winrate.