Better Than Average

If it folds around to you when you’re in late position, are the hands yet to act better than average?

Imagine a scenario where you’re at a 9-seat table playing against the computer. After the hole cards are dealt, the computer ranks the relative strength of the hands and assigns each a number from 9 (lowest) to 1, and will open any of the top 3 hands.

When it folds to you on the button, you know that the remaining hands are 2 of the top 3 hands dealt. By definition, the remaining hands will always be better than average for that deal.

It’s not this simple in an actual game, of course, but shouldn’t the same thing happen in real games, at least to some extent?

I think it should, but I don’t know what, if anything, useful can be gleaned from this. It seems like it should be a useful thing to know, but how would one quantify it or make use of it?

1 Like

My possibly naive view suggests that Betting changes the odds of certain hands in a REAL game.
I personally and i suggest other players as well greatly influence the final result of a game by the way we bet.
I think your scenario is correct “on paper” maybe. As for Best play as advertised in Books etc, i think this only applies in theory.
I am only reasonably proficient at Replay Poker , so i am quite prepared for someone to take an entirely different view . All the Best percyveer.


The short answer is yes, every hand folded in front increases the likelihood of strong hands remaining. But the effect is not particularly huge, as there are a lot of Ax and Kx hands that are standard folds in earlier and middle position.

If the players in front of you are extremely loose, if they did in fact all fold in front of you, what are they folding? It seems likely to be a bunch of hands like Q2o, J4o, and 83o. So low ranked cards are more likely to be removed from the deck than high ranked cards with every fold. When the players in front are tight, a fold is less exceptional, but still, hands like AA and KK are very unlikely to be in that folding mix.


Yeah, I have no doubt that there’s some theoretical merit to this idea. My problem is that i don’t understand it well enough to make use of it in a practical way.

@Yorunoame, you said “But the effect is not particularly huge,” which implies that there is statistical data available on this. Can you please direct me to some sources? I can’t locate anything, and would love to know the math behind this.

It’s not a simple thing, and there are many variables to consider. Play styles, position, and stack sizes all come to mind, but there are others too. The hardest of these, at least for me, is that players select ranges based on absolute hand values, but pots are won by relative hand strengths.

I think I’ll tighten up my late position open ranges (when folded to) a little and see what happens, but since it’s so hard to collect actual data on Replay, it won’t be easy to establish a cause/effect relationship.

1 Like

This is known as the bunching effect.

Is it real and significant? Yes. Is it worth to study it in detail? Probably not, at least not before you’ve studied many other, more important areas of your play.

Here is an interesting article about the bunching effect.


Thanks @BlackWidow, that’s exactly what i was looking for. Bunching, huh?

I gave that article a quick scan, and will dig into it deeper later. A quote from the article’s conclusions caught my eye though…

“Our most important takeaway is that bunching certainly has a pretty sizable effect on EVs”

1 Like

I tend to measure the significance of the bunching effect in terms of how much it alters your optimal opening ranges… and by this measure, while the effect is still real and not trivial, I myself would not be inclined to call it significant.


Fair enough, and I tend to agree. It can’t be a huge difference.

1 Like

I thought this was a nice summary. Some of you will probably feel this looks like something aptly described as significant.

I think this was a 9 max table simulation were it folded to the SB, and this is the frequency of cards remaining. This was in a shallow stacked situation where a lot of aces will be shoved.

I’d seen some GTO ranges that included bunching next to those that did not factor in bunching, and the ranges factoring in bunching did in fact become tighter, but it felt like a relatively minor adjustment. This was looking at deep stacked cash game play.

In some of the examples in the article, they examine shallow stack shove/fold decisions, where the impact on opening ranges seems to change quite a bit more, and in this context, I’d be inclined also to describe this as significant.

Just the relative increase in the actual probability of having an ace was a bit of a surprise to me. I hadn’t thought it would be quite that big.

Thanks for posting that link, BW.


Yeah, the article posted by BW was exactly what I was looking for, thanks again.

This is something I’ve been thinking about for the last few weeks, but since I didn’t know that it’s called bunching, I couldn’t find anything on it. I couldn’t believe that I was the only one to ever notice this, so I asked, and am glad I did.

It’s going to take me some time to onboard this. For now, I’m going to tighten my ranges a little in this situation and maybe up my sizing a bit to make calling with weak Ax holdings a little less attractive.

BW was also correct that there are better ways to spend my time, but I tend to go where I go because I find it interesting, not because it will win me a ton of free chips. :slight_smile:

So, if bunching really does increase the frequency of aces (and kings to a lesser extent) it seems reasonable that this would affect the board runouts too. If the folded hands logically contain less aces, the remaining deck contains more, right?

1 Like

Not a math or logic wizard here, but in general there is a chance of better hands as people fold. As a multiplier to that the pot odds are lower as no one is adding money to the pot yet. Deep into the rotation I will sometimes call with a weak hand because the pot is large due to many players calling. I won’t follow someone’s raise with a weak hand but I may call if the pot sings to me.