Everything you do at a poker table is affected by what type of range you have. This applies to both you and your opponents. If your opponent raises and you want to 3/bet then you are doing this blind if you don’t have some idea of your opponents range. Let us look at a simple example just to highlight the point. It is folded around to your opponent in the cut-off who opens for 3.5bb and you make it 10bb with the Kc-Ks.
Both blinds fold and your opponent shoves his remaining stack into the middle……all 196bb of it. With absolutely no knowledge of our opponent then we have a somewhat tricky decision. Many players would snap call but snap calling is a potentially big mistake if your opponents range only consists of A-A. Let’s face it, if you knew that your opponent held exactly A-A then you would fold in a heartbeat wouldn’t you?
Many people will argue, yes but we don’t know he has aces. Of course we don’t and this underlines the point about how important it is to know how opponents range. The entire profit that we show or don’t show whichever the case may be is dictated by how much equity our hand has against their range. This is the entire point of this simple example, it isn’t to highlight how we cannot possibly know our opponents hand.
Well actually it is because when we can narrow down our opponent’s range of hands then we are getting closer to revealing their hand. When we know our opponents range then we also know how many different hand types are in that range. This has a profound effect on our overall line and strategy in the hand and also how we play against a particular opponent full stop.
For example if an opponent has a very wide range pre-flop then calling and floating become very effective tactics post flop. This is even more so when our opponent rarely barrels with his weak holdings on all three streets. Also semi-bluffs also increase in effectiveness because our opponent will be folding all of his fresh air and as we know, there are a lot of weak hands in his range. Our opponents range also has a big impact on the board texture as well.
So everything is connected and just like we are trained to look at equity in poker, we should also be training ourselves to look at ranges as well. Any strong poker player will tell you that their game is based very heavily on equity and ranges and this is basically what the fundamentals of a good solid poker game are based on.
For example let us say that an opponent raised pre-flop, bet the flop and checked the turn…..what is their likely range here? Forget what hand you hold or what the board texture is…concentrate on the betting line of raise/bet/check and figure what that means. Would they start to check big hands? Probably not in all likelihood but they would check mediocre hands for pot control and weak hands when giving up on their bluffs. So unless they are tricky then their range is weak to moderate hands on the turn unless proven otherwise.
Carl “The Dean” Sampson is a professional poker player at www.888poker.com and you can also see Carl on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/u/0/115053726433255054649/posts