In-depth Hand Range Analysis
This blog post is an experiment. I have been trying to figure out a good way to help amateur poker players better understand how to put players on hand ranges in a clear, easy to understand format. I am considering writing a book using the format below and I want to see what you think about it. Please let me know in the Comment section below. Thank you!
This blog post would likely be near the end of the book, after it is fully discussed how to put someone on a reasonable preflop range. I also have to figure out how to add weighted ranges in a visual format. Writing books is hard work!
At 100/200-25 with 25,000 effective stacks, a good, loose, aggressive played raised to 525 from the lojack seat.
The lojack’s preflop raising range is:
This is a somewhat standard preflop raising range from the lojack. Some extremely aggressive players will raise a few more hands including all suited Aces and a few more suited gappers. Tighter players will fold many of the weak big cards, suited connectors, and small pairs.
A tight, aggressive player called from the hijack.
The hijack’s preflop calling range is:
Most players in the hijack seat will 3-bet their best hands while calling with a range of hands that flop well. Some players elect to 3-bet A-Q, A-J, and K-Q, opting to use their high cards as blockers.
A loose, aggressive player called from the cutoff.
The cutoff’s preflop calling range is:
Most players in the cutoff will call with a wide range of hands that flop well once there is a preflop raise and a call. Similar to the hijack, some players in the cutoff will elect to 3-bet A-Q, A-J, and K-Q.
You have Kc-Qd on the button and decide to call. Both calling and 3-betting are fine options. Both blinds fold.
The flop came Qc-9d-4d.
The lojack bet 785 into the 2,550 pot.
The lojack’s flop betting range is:
(The dark blue hands are diamonds and clubs.)
The lojack could easily check A-K, K-J, K-T, and all made hands worse than top pair. He may also check with flush draws, backdoor flush draws, and gutshot straight draws. However, it is wise to leave at least some combinations of these hands in the range because the initial raiser is loose and unpredictable. Do not quickly discount hands like Kh-Th and 6c-5c simply because you would not bet them.
The hijack and cutoff fold.
You decide to call with your top pair to force the lojack to stay in the pot with his entire range while keeping the size of the pot manageable for when you happen to be crushed.
There may be some merit in assuming the lojack’s 785 bet is abnormally weak, as many players would bet larger, perhaps 1,500, with their strong value hands to maximize value from worse made hands and to charge the draws.
This could be the lojack’s flop betting range if his bet size is an indication about his hand’s strength:
Against this range of hands that you crush, it is important to call because if you raise, many of these hands that are drawing thin will fold, making it impossible for you to extract value on the turn and river. Notice I left one of the sets (9-9) in because most good players are sophisticated enough to be somewhat balanced with their bet sizes such that they are not betting this size with only marginal hands. Other players all attempt to further balance by adding in A-A, K-K, and A-Q. We will revisit the (often unforeseen) consequences of having multiple ranges based on various bet sizes at the end of this post.
The turn was the (Qc-9d-4d)-2s.
The lojack bet 2,800 into the 4,120 pot.
This is the lojack’s turn betting range:
(The dark blue hands are now only diamonds.)
Most players will give up on the turn with their hands that are almost certainly crushed and have a low chance to improve, such as backdoor flush draws that did not improve to flush draws and A-K (the missed backdoor flush draws have been removed from the range). Most aggressive players will continue betting with their semi-bluffs that have equity, such as flush draws and straight draws. Of course, if your opponent is particularly aggressive, he may continue betting with all of his range besides the marginal made hands.
Against this range, your K-Q has 56% equity.
Since you only need to win 29% of the time to break even based on the pot odds (2,800/(4,120 + 2,800 + 2,800) = 29%), you must continue in the pot. As on the flop, calling is ideal because if you raise, your opponent will fold many of the hands that are drawing thin while always continuing with hands that crush you.
The river was the (Qc-9d-4d-2s)-Td.
The lojack bet 6,900 into the 9,720 pot.
The lojack’s river betting range is:
Most players in the lojack’s situation elect to check their top pairs because if they bet and get called, they are usually beat. This means the lojack’s river betting range is polarized to sets and better and bluffs. Since there are no unpaired hands in the lojack’s range by the river, most strong players will turn their hands with the least amount of showdown value (in this case, A-T, K-T, and J-T) into bluffs.
Against this range, K-Q has 27% equity.
Based on the pot odds, you need to win 29% of the time and you will only win 27% of the time, so you should fold. (6,900/(9,720 + 6,900 + 6,900) = 29%). It is worth noting that many players will not be capable of turning a pair of Tens into a bluff on the river because they incorrectly think they have a large amount of showdown value. This should lead you to fold even more often to a river bet because there are fewer bluffs in your opponent’s range.
On a Blank River
Notice that if instead the river was the (Qc-9d-4d-2s)-2h and you faced a 6,900 bet into the 9,720 pot, you would be in an entirely different situation because the lojack would be inclined to turn his missed draws into bluffs.
Perhaps his river betting range would be:
Notice this range has your opponent check-calling the river with K-Q, Q-J, and Q-T to catch your bluff attempts. It also has your opponent checking Ad-Kd, Ad-Jd, and Ad-Td because they beat many of the missed draws you could have.
Against this range, K-Q has 51% equity, giving you an easy river call.
If your opponent is well versed in poker, he will tailor his river betting range such that you have a break-even decision. He can do this by eliminating a few of his bluffing hands from his range. His goal is to make his range 71% value bets and 29% bluffs (when using this specific river bet size).
Perhaps this is a balanced river betting range:
This range has your opponent checking his missed King high draws and only bluffing with hands that have absolutely no showdown value.
Against this range, K-Q will only win 25% of the time. Since you need to win 29% of the time, you should fold to a 6,900 bet.
However, most aggressive players will not be disciplined enough to check their King highs, meaning you should typically call in this spot.
Splitting Lojack’s Range on the Flop
Going back to the flop, notice what happens if the lojack’s flop bet size indicates his betting range is abnormally weak.
On the (Qc-9d-4d)-2s turn, most opponents will not make a 2,800 bet with middle pairs because if they are called, they are usually crushed, meaning the lojack’s turn betting range is:
Against this range K-Q is in great shape, with 76% equity. Notice the Lojack’s turn range is now almost entirely draws.
If the river is the (Qc-9d-4d-2s)-Td, if the lojack bets the river with his entire turn betting range, K-Q only has 20% equity.
This is because the vast majority of the lojack’s turn betting range was draws. Since most of the draws came in on the river, K-Q is an easy fold.
Of course, if the river was the (Qc-9d-4d-2s)-2h and the lojack bet with this entire turn betting range, K-Q can easily call because it beats all of the busted draws. In order for the lojack to make you somewhat indifferent to calling, he would have to bet with this (incredibly narrow) range:
This illustrates why you want to have somewhat balanced ranges and why having multiple ranges based on various bet sizes is a bad idea versus strong opponents. You do not want to show up on the river with ranges that allow your opponents to easily call or fold versus your river bets. You want to be able to put them in difficult spots. If your opponent must either always fold or always call on specific rivers, they will rarely make costly mistakes.
Thanks for reading this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please let me know in the comments section below. If you haven’t checked out PokerCoaching.com already, I strongly suggest you do so. My students are working hard and learning a lot. Be sure to check back next week at JonathanLittlePoker.com for another educational blog post.