Let’s Return to the Subject of Ranges
Ranges are another of the many aspects of poker that are difficult to incorporate into one’s game. It is possible to overthink ranges in any hand. Poker math is a lot more straightforward but hand ranges are at the very least another helpful way to analyze a hand.
What Do We Know before the Flop?
The only cards we know for sure are our own cards. Now we have to try to discern what the other players may have based on their bets. Evaluating the hand on the basis of hand ranges is simply one tool among many to help us understand the hand and to help us elevate our game into the realm of juicy poker.
Even the Best Pros Misfire in their Evaluations of Hands
Juicy Poker would also like to point out that, since so many hands get incorrectly analyzed, all of the tools we use to analyze hands are far from foolproof. Hand ranges are eminently not foolproof. Still, we can learn quite a bit from simple analysis based on ranges. This article is a complement to a previous article we published about hand ranges.
Take a Player Betting out of Position
If this player folds in early position, we can put her on a very broad range of hands that are all not good enough for her to call the big blind with. This is important information as it might lower the range of hands she could have if on a subsequent hand she calls or raises in early position.
Even though the range of hands in this case is very broad, the range falls into the category of hands to fold before the flop. Poker players should fold about 70% of their hands before the flop so a wide range of folded hands is quite normal.
Returning to our example, from her point of view, it is important to bluff at least once in a while with a poor hand in early position since it forces her opponents to put her on a wider range of hands when she stays in a hand.
So, a player in early position who does bluff from time to time in early position has to be put on a very broad range of hands. This will help us understand his betting after the flop and on the other two streets if he does indeed stay in the hand until the showdown.
How Much Do the Stakes Affect Betting and Hand Ranges?
We think that there is no doubt that players in low stakes games often play more loosely and call or even raise with poor hands simply because the stakes are so low. That means that in low stakes games, you might stretch the range of any hand that the player calls with in early position.
There is another side to this issue. A lot of players start out in low stakes games as a way of getting a lot of poker experience at little to no cost. Many of these players are willing to play conservatively in early position which means that they would bet in that position with the very small range of hands as the many books of instruction tell them to.
This all seems so contradictory and it is to some extent. It leads to Rule Number One for your study of hand ranges: You can’t effectively evaluate a hand based on hand ranges unless you have solid understanding of players’ betting tendencies. In other words, hand ranges especially in early position and especially in low stakes games, is as much about your opponents’ betting range as it is about a theoretical hand range!
What about a Player in Intermediate Position
Here the range of hands should naturally expand since these players are closer to the big blind and might limp in to see the flop hoping that no one betting after them raises. There are many examples of a poor hand that a player in middle position might limp in with. One example is suited and connected low cards such as 8-9.
Here the player has the theoretical possibility of a straight flush, a flush, or a straight among other possibilities. But if the flop comes out with no longer any chance for one of these hands, the player might have paired one of his cards. a pair is fine except that there are so many other pairs that can beat his lowly pair.
In addition, the player has no kicker to speak of.
This player should fold which would indicate that he limped in with a very limited range and didn’t improve his hand enough to stay in the hand.
Isn’t Putting a Player on a Hand the Same as What Players Have Always Done?
It certainly is!
In the past, poker players might have asked themselves, “What could he have?” The idea of hand ranges was developed as a more sophisticated way of asking and answering that question. Hand ranges are a much more formal way of telling oneself what hands an opponent might have but it really is just the same as asking yourself what the bettor might have.
It takes quite a bit of time to develop skill in using the idea of hand ranges. This is no different than the time it takes to get good at any other aspect of poker. We should do our best to learn and use the idea of hand ranges since the top pros all use it. The fact that the pros all use it should tell us that it is recognized as an improvement in a player’s ability to evaluate a hand.
It is eminently ironic that the top pros who do try to explain hand ranges to new players or to players with some experience and now want to learn this esoteric side of poker, don’t seem capable of explaining hand ranges in a simple manner!
So, we will return to the subject of hand ranges soon.
Juicy Stakes Poker Offers a Wide Range of Poker Games
In order to get better at poker, a player needs to be able to play often. It is always better, in our estimation, to play several times a week for a short period of time. This will keep you honed mentally while not costing much at all.
We also encourage all new players to play in low stakes games in order to minimize their losses if there are any.
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