Poker Ranges

If you’ve been around modern poker games, you’ve probably heard the term “range” in the context of a poker hand or seen a poker range chart. But for those learning how to play poker, what does “poker range” really mean, and how do you use it when you’re learning to play poker? Read on as break down precisely what a range is, how to use it in-game, and how to read a poker range chart.

Man playing Texas Hold 'em poker at Casino, he is holding two cards and was betting within his poker range

What is a Poker Range?

A poker range is a collection of hands played by you or your opponent in the same way. Back in the day, people used to try and put their opponents on certain hands: “When he raised preflop, I thought he had AK,” or “When she bet the flop, I knew she had AA.” This thinking is flawed because when you raise preflop or bet on the flop, you’re not doing that with just one hand combination; you’re doing it with a range of hands.

For example, you’re UTG and raise to 3bb in a cash game. You’re going to be doing this with AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, 77, AKo, AQo, AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, KQs, QJs, and JTs (plus or minus a few hands depending on your playing style). So when you raise to 3bb, all these hands make up your “range.” You will have a range for every action you take, whether you’re fully aware of it or not. When there are many hand combinations, it can be hard to keep track of precisely what hands are in your range–this is where range charts come in handy.

A poker range chart is a visual representation of these ranges. For example, there are 169 hand combinations in Texas Hold’em, and they can fit nicely on a 13×13 board, with suited hands in the top right, offsuit hands in the bottom left, and pocket pairs running through the top left to bottom right diagonal. When looking at poker ranges, you can highlight each hand you think your opponent will have in their range to visualize it better. 

Poker Range Chart

While the poker hand matrix above may make it seem like there’s an equal number of each hand, this is not the case. There are actually six combos of paired hands and 16 combos of unpaired hands, with the unpaired hands comprising of 4 suited hands and 12 unsuited hands. Let’s take AA and AK as an example and break it down.

Paired Hands: There are six possible combinations of paired hands: A♥A♣, A♥A♦, A♥A♠, A♣A♦, A♣A♠, A♦A♠

Suited Hands: There are four combinations of suited hands, one for each suit: A♥K♥, A♣K♣, A♦K♦, A♠K♠

Unsuited Hands: There are twelve combinations of unsuited hands: A♥K♣, A♥Kd, A♥K♠, A♣K♦, A♣K♠, A♦K♠, A♣K♥, AdK♥, A♠K♥, A♦K♣, A♠K♣, A♠K♦.

How to Use Poker Ranges

Now that we know what a poker range is, how do we use it in-game? The way we use poker ranges is by using them to read hands. Hand reading is the ability to determine what hands our opponent likely has based on the betting action. We do this by estimating the ranges our opponents start with and comparing them to their betting patterns to see what hands our opponent is representing from our range. For example, if our opponent 3bet preflop, bet the flop, turn and river on an A♦9♣6♠4♠2♦ board, they represent hands like AA, AK, AQ, and AJ for value and could have hands like KQ, QJ, and 87 as bluffs.

It’s vital that we keep our opponent’s range consistent as we go through the hand. A common trap people fall into is to suddenly assume a player can have a specific hand in their range on the turn when they had already discounted it preflop or on the flop. Let’s look at an example:

Your opponent raises UTG at a nine-handed table, and you call with 3d4d in the big blind. You think your opponent is a solid player, so you give him a range of 77+, AQo+, AJs+, JTs+. The flop comes 3♠4♠5d♦. You check, your opponent bets, you raise, and your opponent shoves. You might be worried that your opponent has a straight with either 76 or A2, a better two pair with 53 or 54, or a set with 33, 44, or 55, but you shouldn’t be. Why? Because those hands weren’t in our opponent’s estimated preflop range, so they won’t be in their post-flop range!

When using poker ranges, start with your opponent’s estimated preflop range; as your opponent gives you more information with their actions, you can remove more and more hands until you have a clearer view of their range.

How To Calculate Poker Ranges

The hardest part about using poker ranges is accurately estimating what ranges your opponents are playing. We’ll never truly get inside the minds of our opponents and understand how they think. Still, we can use the information to create a close estimate of the hands they’ll play. Here’s what you should consider when building a range for your opponent:

Who Your Opponent Is

Is your opponent an 80-year-old man with a coffee and a newspaper or an 18-year-old kid with a hoodie and sunglasses? While everybody is equal at the poker table, a player’s appearance, age, and demeanor can tell you how they’re likely to play. A rule of thumb is that the older the player, the tighter they are, as it plays on the stereotype that older people are risk-averse.

What a player wears can give you an indication of how they play as well. For example, suppose they’re at the casino in jeans and a hoodie like they’ve just rolled out of bed. In that case, they’re likely a regular player–people who frequent the casino often don’t usually dress up for it. However, suppose your opponent is wearing a cocktail dress or a business suit. In that case, they’re likely inexperienced at playing in a casino.

No matter who they are or what they look like, the information you’re trying to get is how loose or tight this player will play compared to standard ranges.

What Position They’re In Preflop

Once you’ve figured out what kind of opponent you’re playing against, look at their position. Are they UTG, in the LJ, or on the BTN? A player’s position will drastically change their range composition (as long as they’re competent). If they’re raising from one of the early positions, their range will likely be tighter; if they’re raising from one of the late positions, their range will likely be wider.

It’s important to combine all your information to create an overall picture of your opponent. Therefore it’s crucial to use the inferences you’ve made from who your opponent is when considering their preflop range based on their position. For example, suppose you see that your opponent is an 85-year-old who looks like they’re about to fall asleep. In that case, it’s likely that, even on the button, their range isn’t going to be very wide, so you need to adjust your ranges accordingly.

What Actions They Take

Your opponent’s actions during a hand, both preflop and postflop, should influence the range you put them on. Starting with preflop, did your opponent raise, or did they limp? Did they call a raise, or did the three-bet? Your opponent will have different ranges depending on the actions they take. For example, most players won’t call a raise with AA; they’ll three-bet, so when thinking of your opponent’s range, you can rule that hand out.

This same principle applies to postflop; your opponent’s actions will change the hands they have in their range. Let’s look at a scenario where you raise from the button with A♥8♥, and your opponent calls in the big blind. The flop comes 8♣6♠2♥, your opponent checks, you bet the size of your pot, and your opponent calls. A Q♠ comes on the turn. Should you be worried about it? Well, let’s look at the actions our opponent has taken. They would call preflop with some Qx hands, but they also called a pot-sized bet on an 8♣6♠2♥ flop. Their range is far more likely to be made up of pairs and straight draws, meaning the Q♠ is actually a safe card for us, despite it being an overcard.

Past Information

It’s important to keep a close watch on your opponents to see if they’re doing anything unexpected based on the profile you’ve created for them. If you’ve assumed that the player is tight, but you see a showdown where they raised UTG with T5s–pay attention to that! Your initial assumption was likely wrong, so you must start adjusting it.

Too many players assume someone plays a certain way and never update their image of a player, even when presented with information to the contrary. Instead, you should always gather information at the poker table and use it to better understand your opponents’ tendencies. 

While we will never get a wholly accurate picture of our opponent’s range, by considering these four points, you can get a decent understanding of the hands your opponent is likely to play.

Ranging Your Opponents Preflop and Postflop

Putting your opponent on an accurate range of hands is one of the most important skills you can have as a poker player. Thinking in terms of ranges allows you to make the best possible decision against all the possible hands your opponent can have in any scenario.

However, it’s tough to think through all the possible permutations while you’re playing, and it’s even hard for your estimates to be right all the time!

This is why learning the concept of ranges inside out and practicing it whenever you play is vital to improving and becoming a winning poker player. Next, let’s look at figuring out your opponent’s range street by street, so you can play as accurately as possible from the first betting round to the last.

Preflop Range

A preflop range chart is a visual representation of a range of hands a player will play from a specific preflop position. It’s a way of visualizing a range and better understanding it, rather than reading the poker notation and trying to memorize it. The more you familiarize yourself with these charts, the easier it becomes to picture them when playing.

Let’s have a look at some you might be familiar with, starting with a nine-handed UTG raising range:

Poker Range Chart for UTG

As you can see, there aren’t many hands being played; all the focus is around the top left-hand side of the chart. When looking at these charts, remember that the best hands are in the top left and the worst hands are in the bottom right. Let’s look at a wider range to see how they compare, this time a BTN opening range:

Pore range chart for the button

That’s a lot of hands to try and keep track of when you’re in-game! If you’re having trouble remembering them all, try grouping certain hands that all play roughly the same, like all Qx, all Kx, all Jx, etc.

Preflop: Common Raise Ranges

  • 9% = 66+, AJs, KQs, AJo+, KQo
  • 15% = 22+, ATs+, KJs+, QJs, JTs, T9s, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, AJo+, KJo+, QJo
  • 20% = 22+, ATs+, KTs+, QTs+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, 76s, 65s, 54s, ATo+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo
  • 25% = 22+, A7s+, K9s+ ,Q9s+ ,J9s+, T8s+,97s+, 86s+, 75s+, 64s+ , 54s, A9o+, KTo+, QTo+, JTo, T9o
  • 35% = 22+,A2s+,K8s+,Q8s+,J8s+,T7s+,97s+,86s+,75s+,64s+,54s,43s,A8o+,A5o-A2o,K9o+,Q9o+,J9o+,T9o
  • 50% = 22+, A2s+, K2s+, Q7s+, J7s+, T7s+, 96s+, 86s+, 75s+, 64s+, 53s+, 43s, A2o+, K5o+, Q8o+, J8o+, T8o+, 98o, 87o, 76o, 65o

Preflop: Common Call Ranges

  • 8% = JJ-22,AQs-AJs,KQs,AQo-AJo,KQo
  • 13% = JJ-22,AQs-ATs,KJs+,QJs,JTs,T9s,98s,87s,76s,65s,54s,AQo-ATo,KJo+
  • 16% = TT-22,AJs-A9s,KTs+,QTs+,J9s+,T8s+,98s,87s,76s,65s,54s,AJo-ATo,KTo+,QTo+,JTo
  • 22% = TT-22,AJs-A2s,K9s+,Q9s+,J9s+,T8s+,97s+,86s+,75s+,64s+,53s+,43s,AJo-A9o,KTo+,QTo+,JTo
  • 30% = 88-22,ATs-A2s,KJs-K8s,Q8s+,J8s+,T7s+,96s+,85s+,74s+,63s+,53s+,43s,ATo-A7o,KJo-K9o,Q9o+,J9o+,T9o,98o,87o,76o,65o

Postflop Poker Ranges: Flop, Turn, and River

Once you’ve arrived at a preflop range for your opponent, this becomes the baseline for all of your postflop hand reading. From this point forward, you should only be removing hands from your opponent’s range based on their actions, not adding any. Each action a player makes on the flop, turn, or river should reduce the number of hands in their range, as hands within their range are played differently from one another.

A common mistake players make when they start using poker ranges is they add hands in after they’ve already decided on a preflop range.

For example, if your opponent is a tight player who raises UTG, there’s no chance they have a hand like A2o. Therefore if your opponent makes a big bet on a flop like Q22, it’s close to impossible for your opponent to have trips. However, some players will look at that flop and the aggressive action and suddenly assume they could have 2x in their range. This is not the case!

Hand reading is about following a logical story from beginning to end. First, you estimate your opponent’s range preflop, then remove hands based on each action they take until you arrive at the river.

Betting Type: Frequency and Patterns

The most valuable piece of information you get from your opponents is the actions they make during the hand. Some people put a lot of stock in things like live tells; whether your opponent checks or bets is the biggest piece of information you should use when hand-reading.

Just like how preflop hands are played differently from one another, not all hands play the same way postflop. Therefore, whenever your opponent makes an action like checking, they’re splitting their range, so you can discard all the hands your opponent would bet with. But how do you know which hands your opponents use in each of their ranges? This is why you need to study your opponent’s patterns to deduce how they play certain types of hands.

While no two opponents are the same, you’ll often find that certain people have the same style of play. So let’s take a look at the most common styles you’ll see at the table and what to look out for.

The ABC Player

These players look to play a simple, straightforward strategy that isn’t very complicated; when they have a good hand, they’ll bet, and when they don’t, they won’t. While this strategy is all you need to beat a game full of fish, it’s very easily exploited. A thinking player can pick it apart within a few minutes of watching them. These players will only bet with a good amount of equity and, as such, will be less aggressive on average. If you see someone playing passively whenever they have a marginal/weak hand, you’ve found yourself an ABC Player.

The Bluffer

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the bluffers. These players are extremely aggressive preflop and postflop and often take any opportunity to bluff at a pot. While this aggression will lead to many pots won without showdown, it’s hard to be this aggressive without over-bluffing and leaving yourself open to exploitation. It can sometimes take work to spot a bluffer, especially when they get a run of good cards. Still, these players are almost always betting when the opportunity arises, so look for players who are more aggressive than average.

The Thinking Player

These players are the hardest to play against, as they do many things right. They play a reasonable preflop range, value bet at the right frequencies, and can balance their range with a good amount of bluffs. Thinking players can be hard to spot at the table, as they often go unnoticed. Players who make big mistakes one way or the other stick out in people’s minds, but people who generally do things right blend into the background. So, if you see someone quietly going about their business, not attracting much attention, you’ve likely found a thinking player.

Post Hand Analysis: Learning from Past Hands

Trying to figure out the starting ranges of your opponents is one of the hardest things to do in poker, mainly because we can never know what goes on inside our opponent’s heads. However, the closest thing we can get to that is by looking at the hands they play, particularly the ones that go to showdown. These hands give us a small window into how our opponent thinks, so we should use as much information as possible from them.

Showdown Hand

Suppose a hand reaches showdown, and you see your opponent’s cards. In that case, this is precious information you can use to figure out their strategy. Here are the things you should consider when you see your opponent’s hand at showdown:

  • Preflop Range – Given the preflop position of your opponent, is this a hand you’d expect to see in their range? If your opponent plays looser than expected, that tendency may exist in other areas of their game.
  • Preflop Action – Was their preflop action congruent with the hand they showed up with? If your opponent tables AA, did they 3bet, or did they flat to try and be tricky? Knowing whether your opponent plays in a standard way or likes to “mix things up” is useful when considering their range postflop.
  • Postflop Action – Did they play their hand in a logical way postflop? Think about the action on every postflop street, and ask yourself if it makes sense for their hand. For example, if you raised preflop and made a cbet on the flop, did they have a reasonable hand to call with, or did they just float with garbage? If you spot your opponent floating too wide or always playing draws aggressively, this gives you a great insight into what their range is likely to be.

Pro Tip: Look For Patterns

The most important thing to remember when analyzing hands to help with range construction is that you should be looking for patterns rather than outliers. We all make silly mistakes every now and again that aren’t indicative of how we play, and the same goes for our opponents.

Identifying the repetitive patterns in your opponent’s play is much more profitable than focusing on one crazy hand. For example, suppose you see your opponent always raising on the flop with a draw and never calling. In that case, you’ll know that their raising range on the flop is much weaker than it should be, and you can punish that. However, seeing your opponent go crazy with J2o in one hand isn’t going to tell you much about how they play and therefore isn’t very useful.

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Comparing Equity: Your Hand Vs. Your Opponents

Calculating the equity of your hand against your opponent’s range while at the table is always going to be an inexact science unless you’re some kind of math prodigy, but for the mathematically challenged among us, there are shortcuts we can take. While this could have an article all of its own, here is the CliffsNotes version of how to estimate your hand’s equity against your opponent’s range.

1. Assign your opponent a preflop range: Unfortunately, you’re not going to know exactly what they have, so this is going to be a rough guess of the hands you think your opponent would play given the preflop action, postflop action, their position, stack sizes, and table dynamic.

2. Calculate equity versus value: Once you’ve assigned your opponent a range of hands, you need to work out the hands that you think will be in your opponent’s value range. Calculate your rough equity versus that value range. For example, if you have TT on an A84r board, your opponent’s value will mostly be Ax+ and K8, so your rough equity against that range is about 15%.

3. Calculate equity versus bluffs: Next, you need to do the same for your opponent’s bluffing range. Carrying on from the above example, if you think your opponent will have a lot of suited broadway hands and straight draws as bluffs, your equity with TT is around 75%.

4. Average the equity: Now that you know your equity against your opponent’s bluffs and value, you need to average it out to get your overall equity. This is done by working out a ratio of bluffs to value. In our example, we think our opponent has 30 combos of value and 15 combos of bluffs, so a 2:1 ratio of value to bluffs. That means, around 66% of the time, we’ll have 15% equity, and 33% of the time, we’ll have 75% equity. A quick way to do the math is to add the equities and divide by the sum of your ratio. In this example, 75 + 15 = 90, divided by 3 equals 30. This means our average equity is around 30%.

As you can see, it’s a pretty complicated process and takes a lot of practice before you can use it at the tables! However, if you can become good at it, it will give you a huge advantage over your opponents.

Using Poker Ranges to Exploit and Counter Opponents

Now that you’ve got a solid understanding of how you construct poker ranges for yourself and your opponent and calculate your equity vs. those ranges, how can you use that to your advantage in-game? By calculating your opponent’s range accurately, you’re better able to use concepts such as minimum defense frequency and big blind defense. As such, you’ll be better able to exploit your opponent based on their tendencies. Let’s take a closer look at how each one works in practice.

Minimum Defense Frequency

Your minimum defense frequency in any situation is the percentage of your range that you must continue with when facing a bet to remain unexploitable by bluffs. If you fail to meet the minimum defense frequency, your opponent will automatically profit with their bluffs as you’re folding too often.

Working out the minimum defense frequency in any situation is easy; here’s the equation:

(Pot size / (pot size + bet size)) x 100 = MDF

After inputting the appropriate numbers, the result will be the percentage of hands you must continue with to remain unexploitable.

For example, you’re on the river facing a bet from your opponent. They bet $100 into a $200 pot; what’s the minimum percentage of your range that you must defend to remain unexploitable? Well, let’s plug in the numbers and find out.

(200 / (200 + 100)) x 100 = MDF

(200 / 300) x 100 = MDF

0.667 x 100 = 66.7 = MDF

This means that you must continue with at least two-thirds of your range against this bet if you want to remain unexploitable.

However, in practice, minimum defense frequencies are rarely used, as your opponents aren’t balanced enough to make it necessary. It’s a great exercise to do off the table, as it gets you familiar with balancing ranges and identifying where your hand falls within your range. If you were playing against a perfectly balanced bot, you’d need to hit your MDF if you had any chance of doing well, but against unbalanced players, you can afford to overcall or overfold based on their tendencies.

Big Blind Defense

While the minimum defense frequency can be applied to any situation, this concept is much more specific and covers the number of hands you should defend against a raise from your opponent. Another difference between big blind defense and minimum defense frequency is that it’s often used in-game rather than as a mental exercise. This is because your big blind defense is based on the range of hands your opponent plays preflop and isn’t conditional on your opponent being balanced.

There is a list of considerations that you should run through before defending a hand in the big blind, so let’s look at what those are.

  1. Opponent’s Range – The first thing to consider when working out your big blind defense frequency is the range of hands your opponent has raised. To figure this out, you need to consider their position, raise size, stack size, and playing style.
  2. Hand vs. Range Equity – Once you’ve worked out your opponent’s range, you need to work out roughly how much equity your hand has against that range.
  3. Pot Odds – The next thing to look at is the pot odds being offered by your opponent. Based on the amount of equity your hand has against your opponent’s range, do you have a profitable call? If yes, you can defend; if no, you should fold.

Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s a little bit more to it than that.

While it’s tempting to look at the pure equity your hand has against your opponent’s range and leave it at that, there are a couple of other things you should consider that will determine how profitable your hand is.

  • Position – Playing in the big blind means you will likely be out of position in the pot. Being out of position makes it harder to realize your equity, so even if you have 30% equity against your opponent’s range, it’s unlikely that you’ll get to realize all of it.
  • “Flopability” – How often your hand will likely connect with the flop also affects the amount of equity you’ll be able to realize. Hands like suited connectors flop flush draws, straight draws, and pairs, making it easier to continue against a bet. However, unsuited, disconnected hands will flop nothing most of the time, making it much harder to defend against a flop bet.
  • Rake – If you’re playing in a cash game, the rake is going to have an impact on the profitability of your hand. If your defense is only slightly over breakeven, it will become unprofitable by the time the rake is taken.

These factors mean that just because your hand has the raw equity against your opponent’s range to call, it doesn’t mean that the call will be profitable. A good rule of thumb is to add around 5% equity to the amount you need to call to account for this. For example, if you need 35% equity to call against your opponent’s range, only continue with hands that have 40% equity or more.

Adjusting To Your Opponent

One of the best ways to use ranges to increase your win rate is to adjust your play based on your opponent’s tendencies. If you’ve played with an opponent long enough, you’ll start to pick up clues about how they play, which you can use to your advantage.

For example, if you’ve noticed that your opponent is extremely tight preflop, you can counter that by overfolding against them preflop. Similarly, if you’re against an opponent who bluffs far more frequently than they should, you can exploit them by calling them down more often.

Any time your opponent deviates from balanced play, you can adjust your play to exploit them. There are many ways your opponent could be unbalanced; look at these examples and watch out for them the next time you play.

  • Is your opponent too tight or too loose preflop?
  • Do they always have it when they bet the river?
  • Do they c-bet too often/too little?
  • Do the 3bet too often/too little?
  • Do they call too often from the big blind?
  • How do they react to overbets? Do they call too often or too little?
  • Do they play straightforwardly when out of position?
  • Do they check-raise enough?

Players in lower-stakes games will likely be unbalanced in many of these spots, so it’s up to you to be an observant poker player and notice which way they lean.

Using a HUD for Poker Range Analysis

While you’ll never know exactly how your opponent constructs their ranges, one way you can get an insight into their preflop ranges is by using a HUD. A HUD (heads-up display) tracks the stats for every opponent on the table and displays them in an overlay. You can configure your HUD to show you any stats you wish.

Two of the stats on almost every HUD are the VPIP and PFR stats. These show how many hands your opponent voluntarily plays preflop and how many they raise. Just by looking at the VPIP and PFR stats, you can get a good idea of whether or not your opponent is on the looser or tighter side. Not only does this tell you how they play preflop, but it also gives you a window into their postflop play; not many people play extremely tight preflop and then extremely loose postflop, or vice versa.

While VPIP and PFR are great for getting a general feel for how your opponent plays, you can go even more granular when looking at their preflop ranges. You can get a breakdown of the RFI (raise first in) stats for each position at the table, which tells you the exact percentage of hands your opponent plays when it folds to them in each position. This is as close to knowing their preflop range as you’re going to get, as it gives you an actual percentage of hands you can work from.

However, just because two players have an RFI stat of 15 for their UTG opening range, it doesn’t mean they’ll play the exact same range. Some players may play more suited hands, some more Ax, and some more pocket pairs, so remember this when trying to evaluate your opponent’s range later in the hand.

Improving Your Hand Reading Ability

  1. Always Think In Ranges


    The most important thing to remember when hand reading is to always think about your opponent’s entire range; never try to put them on a single hand. The reason for this is because almost all of the time you try to do that, you’re going to be wrong and will end up making a big mistake in the hand. Thinking in terms of ranges allows you to see the broader picture and make the best possible action against all of your opponent’s hands.

  2. Shrink Ranges As You Go


    Your opponent’s range should constantly get smaller as you move through the hand. Every action your opponent takes should reduce the number of hands in their range, so the more actions they make, the smaller their range should be. Don’t make the mistake of adding hands postflop; once you’ve assigned your opponent a preflop range, it should never get bigger.

  3. Pay Attention To Bet Sizing


    Just as your opponent’s actions will reduce the number of hands in their range, so will their bet sizing. Many players will change the composition of their ranges based on their bet size, so pay attention when a player uses a larger or smaller sizing than normal. A balanced player will have a higher percentage of value hands the bigger their bet size, but a recreational player is far more likely to be unbalanced. This means that they can be exploited as long as you pay attention to how their bet size changes their range composition.

  4. Know Your Opponent


    A classic mistake players make is to assume that all of their opponents play exactly the same. However, we know that nothing could be further from the truth, as some opponents play extremely tight, some play extremely loose, and everything in between. Knowing how your opponent plays should greatly impact how you estimate their range. If your opponent is a complete nit, you’re not going to give them 98s if they raise UTG. Similarly, if your opponent is a maniac, you can expect them to raise close to, if not 100%, of hands from the BTN.

Poker Range Tips

If you’re looking for tips on what to consider when building your own preflop ranges, check these out:

Don’t Play Low Pocket Pairs When Short-Stacked

Unless you’re going to be shoving all-in, the value of low pocket pairs drastically decreases as your stack gets smaller. Low-pocket pairs are good for making a set and winning a big pot by cracking an overpair; they’re very tough to play when you don’t make a set, and you’ll either have to fold or call down, hoping your opponent is bluffing.

Play More Suited Hands than Offsuit Hands

Poker players go through three stages when it comes to suited hands. First, they’ll play every suited hand they’re dealt because they can make a flush, and, well, a flush is a strong hand. Second, they’ll realize that a suited hand only gives you 2-3% more equity, so they play the same number of offsuit hands. Finally, they understand that while the actual equity increase is small, you will likely flop more equity with suited hands, allowing you to barrel and win the pot without a showdown.

When building your range, ensure that there are more suited hands than offsuit hands.

Don’t Overvalue Low Suited Connectors

Everyone loves playing low-suited connector hands because you can make some very disguised hands with them and win a huge pot against a player’s overpair. However, from early positions, these hands lose a lot of their value as there’s an increased chance that when you do make a big hand like a straight or a flush, you’ll be up against someone with the higher end of them. You also don’t make those strong hands very often, so you’ll either have to try and bluff your way out of trouble or end up check-folding most of the time.

Play Tighter Than You Think From Early Position

The biggest mistake beginner players make is thinking they can play a wide range of hands from early position. While this is a mistake that’s fixed over time, many players still overestimate the number of hands they can play from early position. Time and time again, we see players play hands like ATo or QJo from UTG, thinking they’re good hands; in reality, these hands aren’t profitable raises. So when playing from early position, err on the side of caution–if you’re unsure whether or not you should raise a hand, you probably shouldn’t.

The Essence of Hand Ranges is Balance

When creating your own ranges, you need to be mindful of balance. You can’t be too heavily skewed towards value or bluffs, as it makes things too easy for your opponent to counter. E.g., if you’re constantly bluffing, your opponent can always call when they have a pair, and if you’re never bluffing, they’ll only call when they have a strong hand. When making a value bet, always consider what bluffs you’d have in your range, and vice versa, as this will help you practice balancing your ranges.

Poker Range FAQs