Yeah, there is no guarantee that shoving the flop would have gotten him to fold, but it still would have been your best chance to take the hand. It’s probably correct for him to call here with top pair, but shoves can be intimidating and it would have been more likely to close the hand than the bet you made there.
Of course, in a lot of hands, you’re going to want him to call that shove. Or get him to go all-in somehow. With 2 pair on the flop, you’re ahead of a lot of hands, but can still lose by the river to a lot of hands, so it’s a good idea to protect your equity with a big bet, especially this late. You want to deny the villain information to make a better decision, and if they suck out, they suck out.
The thing I really need to work on (besides sizing) is the concept of range.
Say I want to create a range for 2 off the button on a nine seat table, or the HJ on a six seat table.
pairs: call 88…raise JJ
suited connectors: call all As, KT, QJ, JT…raise AJ, KJ,
unsuited connectors: call AJ…raise AK
suited disconnectrors: call A8
unsuited disconnectors: none
Is this too loose? Too tight? Am i leaving too many hands to limp in? How do i adjust for posision, for drindling table size? Is this even the way i should be looking at it?
That’s not an unreasoned approach, but it is a novice one, and very exploitable.
Rather than think of ways to encode your hand and transmit it to your opponents, think about betting as a way to deceive, confuse, and manipulate your opponents into action that profits you. You want them to fold when you are weak, call when you are strong, and raise when you are very strong.
Don’t think about the hand you hold, think about the hand you are representing.
Start by asking about when you raise, what raise size will make it most likely that you will go to the flop heads up. If you’re in an early position, there will be more players left to act, so bet bigger. If you’re in late position facing a bunch of limpers, you’ll need to knock them off their hands, so you’ll need to bet big as well. However, as table size dwindles, or you’re in a late position and the action folds to you, you can use a smaller size.
Now that you’ve chosen your bet size, figure out how many hands you should be opening. The larger the size, the tighter your range should be. For example, if I’m on the button facing five limpers with 100BB, I’ll want to raise about 6-8BB, using a tight range of about 8% of my hands.
Now that we have that figure, how do we decide what hands to include? There are 1326 potential starting hands, and 8% of that is about 105. Obviously I’ll want my strong pocket pairs, and there are six combinations of each, so let’s start building my range with 77+ (8*6 = 48 combos). There are four suited and twelve unsuited combinations of unpaired hole cards. In addition to AK and AQ (all sixteen of each), I’d add ATs, AJs, KQs, QJs, and then A4s and A5s as well. That gets me to 104 total combos. Facing a 30BB 3-bet, I’ll fold A4s and A5s, jam with the top 20-25% of my range - QQ+ and AKs gets me 22 combos - and call the rest.
Now, is this a “good” 8% range? It has a nice blend of moderate-to-strong made hands (the pocket pairs), and moderate-to-strong drawing hands (everything else). Facing reasonably-sized aggression, you have a good sense of what you should fold, call, or raise. The range of hands that you’re willing to open-raise is around 2.5x to 3x the range of hands that you’ll fold to aggression.
The size of the range in this situation is probably good, too. Keep in mind that in the post that kicked off this thread, you mentioned JJ as being a hand you might expect a “later position” player to limp. You can’t go too much wider here without exposing yourself to your opponents’ ranges - already four of the “made” hands in your range, 77-TT, are in rough shape against a player with pocket jacks, though most of your “drawing” hands have decent equity against them.
If I were to modify this range by adding weaker hands like 87s, I should balance that by removing a similar number of the weaker hands in the range, like A5s. We also see that we can’t go too crazy modifying this range. Adding a single offsuit hand like KQo will account for 12 new combinations, unless heavily restricted (e.g. a rule that KQ with only black cards are in my open range, but KQo with a diamond or heart will be folded, would add just two combos). Also, we can’t add many more pocket pairs without dropping the strong broadway hands that have good equity against the moderately strong pocket pairs that could be in our competitors’ ranges.
I’ve assumed above that you won’t have a limping range in this spot. If you want to define a limping range, keep in mind that it will be “capped.” You won’t have any of the hands that you would be raising, so anyone who has a fairly strong hand behind you can exploit that. Alternatively, you could remove them from the raising range, but that means you won’t be getting value from those very strong hands, which will probably not maximize your expected value.
Let’s assume that everyone before you folded. How many hands are in your open range, and how many are in your limp range?
Open: JJ+, AJs, KJs, AKo
That’s 16 “made” strong hands, and 20 “unmade” moderately-strong hands, for a total of just 36 combos, or 2.7%. This seems really small, not to mention unbalanced between “made” and “unmade” hands, with no strong unmade hands like AKs.
Limp: 88-TT, A2s-ATs, AQs-AKs, AJo, A8o
That’s 12 “made” moderately-strong hands, 8 very strong unpaired hands (AQs and AKs), and 60 moderately-strong unpaired hands, for a total of 80 hands in your limping range, or 6.0%. It’s going to be tough to figure out which hands you’ll want to defend to a raise (is A8o better than A2s?), and which if any you’ll want to limp-raise. Your limping range is also more than double the size of your raising range, which seems bad.
Also, if you’re only two spots off the button, then there are only four players left to act behind you. That means that 20% of the time, you’ll have the best hand that’s still active. Two opponents, if they call, would act before you postflop, making it easier to realize your equity. However, the other two would act after you postflop, so you’ll want to knock them out of the pot if possible. Since you’re balanced between players to act before and after you postflop, I’d look to open about 20% of the time, in alignment with the likelihood my hand is the best at the table. If these are your actual HJ ranges, then you’re being way too tight in this spot - and again, should usually look to open rather than limp.
That’s not an unreasoned approach, but it is a novice one, and very exploitable. Don’t think about the hand you hold, think about all the hands you could hold in a given spot. That’s how ranges work. Understanding that, and viewing the hand you actually hold as part of your overall range, will help you to stay balanced and avoid being exploited.
I know that was a lot to throw at there, but I’d like to add one more comment. I’ve posted elsewhere that I probably spend about two hours off the table studying poker for every hour I spend actually playing. These are the types of things that I’m doing - figuring out what proportion of the time I should be betting/raising/calling/folding in certain spots, then mapping out what each of those ranges would look like by adding/removing hands until I get the percentages to roughly match what I think is ideal.
A suggestion that I saw recently was to visualize what your preflop ranges will look like before you look at your cards, and then choose to act based on that predetermined plan. This works much better for live poker, since you can see all the action that’s occurred before you before uncovering your hole cards, but the principle remains in the online realm as well. Often in lower-stakes games at RP, you’ll need to have extremely tight preflop ranges. Either you’re early to act, or the players that acted before you will have limped, bloated the pot, and are forcing you to raise bigger in order to knock them out while discouraging calls from later positions. Know what your preflop 8% range, or 10% range, or 12% range looks like. Maybe you choose beforehand to include your red T4s combos while cutting the red A5s combos from my 8% range - totally fine! But then if you’re dealt Tc4c, or Ad5d for that matter, you need to stick to your range and send it to the muck. Otherwise, you risk extending your bluff range wayyyyyy too much, and you’ll become unbalanced with far more garbage hands than value hands.
So, when i look at the difference between a HJ range with 6 players, and a button range with 4 players, i’m actually looking at a predetermined % of hands that i would play, in each case? i’ve looked at charts that list situational adjustments to a range. i understand, but can’t mentally call it up when i need it, yet, so i’ve been trying to develop ways of seeing various things in the few seconds i have, at least until i get the experience to relate to oft repeated scenarios and their associated range, and other info, as one. I find it easier to maintain discipline in other positions when i use a really wide calling range in unraised blinds. So far, being lucky offsets the leak, but i have lost chips,a few times, hitting 2pr. in the BB, and losing to draws.
So, to sum up…look at position and info that pertains to the situation you’re playing, in terms of the percentage of hands you’re willing to play.
Use actual combos to calculate these percentages, as opposed to types of hands.
Look for balance when choosing which hands to fill the range.
I read in one of your posts that iyo medium suited connectors were undervalued. i started playing some hands, and agree. Should i blast out with T9s to four or five BB, or would that be a limping hand? is position powerful enough to make that a yes/no question?
looking at hands within a range, i was listing the weakest hand i would perform an action with, and assigning that action to any stronger hand. Was that correct?
i was told once that a range applies more to your position off the button. So, 2 off the button at 9 seats, is about the same range used HJ at six seats. Did i assume correctly?
Lots of info. Thank you. Much will become clear, when i attempt to use many concepts, I’ve learned lately, in practical applications.
Many will breed new questions
Jacks are especially difficult. There is an old saying about them. “There are 4 ways to play pocket jacks and they are all wrong.” I was playing real money the other day and got pocket jacks UTG. The game is $10.00 buy in and I am up to near $20.00 after a couple of hours. Raised 5 bigs and got one caller. Perfect. The flop comes J, rag, rag, with two spades. I shove with my set and my nemesis called with a very weak spade draw. He makes his flush, the board doesn’t pair and I lose everything that i am ahead and get deep into my own money. Thank you Poker Gods; lesson learned. Small pot poker next time.
@waidus, lots of good questions here. Let’s address them one by one.
Yes! Someone has run hands through a solver to determine that when playing 6-max, your HJ (two off-the-button) open range should include X% of hands, and that the optimal range that covers X% of hands looks like Y. You can vary a bit from Y, but in general when you add some bluff hands to it, you should take others away to keep X the same.
We might be using the term “discipline” differently. When I say it, I mean sticking to your predetermined range, even though you might want to deviate from it. For example, let’s say I haven’t played a hand in the past two orbits at a 9-handed table, and I’m dealt A7s UTG. I’m making a disciplined fold by telling myself that better hands will come around and to wait for a hand that falls in my range. Choosing to play lots of hands by limping is the opposite of discipline.
Yes, exactly. It’s really important to counting actual combinations as well, because that will make your postflop work much easier. If you want to make a half-pot river bet, for example, that means you should have 3x as many value hands as bluffs. If you’re starting with just 120 combinations in your range based on preflop action, you’ll be able to quickly whittle down that figure to a countable number by the river based on which of those 120 combinations you would play as a check/call/bet/raise on earlier streets. You’ll be able to say, “When I bet in this spot, my 12 value hands are all possible remaining combinations of AA, KK, 99, and 88, and I’ll be bluffing with the four combinations of JTs.” On the other hand, if you don’t have a good sense of your starting range, it’ll be that much more difficult to figure out what your ranges are on later streets.
Starting with the second part first… yes, position is absolutely important enough to alter the calculus. In general, it’s easier to realize equity when you’re in of position (later to act post flop, like on the button or cutoff) than out of position (in the blinds, or UTG). This is doubly true when you have a drawing hand that can make straights/flushes, like T9s. As a result, I could see opening to 4-5BB on the button facing a HJ limp 9-handed. However, it’s too weak to be in my UTG 9-handed range, since I’d be concerned about playing postflop out of position against later callers, and/or getting 3- or 4-bet by much stronger hands that have yet to act.
Not necessarily, particularly if there are questions around what a “stronger hand” is. Is A6s stronger than A5s? The latter can make a straight with just three cards on the board, while the former has a slightly higher kicker that will only rarely come into play. Much better to be explicit - “A2s-AKs” captures all suited aces, while “A2s-A5s, ATs-AKs” drops A6s-A9s from that range. It’s also important to specify your ranges when you have multiple potential actions, like limping, opening to 2.4BB, and opening to 6BB. Which hands will fall in which of those three ranges? If you limp with 88, does that mean you limp with AA?
Better players than me can correct me if I’m wrong, but in my mind, yes, though it assumes that everyone earlier in the hand has folded. In other words, if the first three players to act in a 9-handed game have folded, the rest of the hand should play out as if it were a 6-handed game. However, if the UTG player limped, for example, you need to take into account the potential strength of an UTG limp range, which should be stronger than a 4- or 6-handed UTG limp range. One would think, at least.
Let me get this straight. You got the money in the middle with about 75% chance to win the pot and felt your opponent… and the lesson you learned is that you should have played for a smaller pot.
Have you considered that you learned the wrong lesson?
Am I getting any closer? I copied this from a google spreadsheet that i put together, to play around with. Hope i got the formulas right. The top part is the practice range from the previous post. I was surprised that it contained almost 20% of all of the possible combinations.
The lower part is this range broken down between calling and raising, with a section for a few hands that are about 50/50, limp/open. I taught myself the little i know about spreadsheets, and my practical math mostly revolved around a tape measure. If you see any glaring mistakes. let me know.
Any advice on the content would be cool, as well.
88 - AA
QJs QTs JTs T9s 98s
QJo QTo JTo
88 - TT
QQ KK AA
A2 - A9
AJ AQ AK
JTs T9s 98s
i can see how this could be confusing. i had to split the sheet in half. the top row is pairs. next three rows are suited, and the last three are off suit. I’m starting to wonder if the swing hands should be opened 90/10 instead of 50/50.
You can play any range you want, and really your range should be adjusted to the specific circumstances of the game you’re in. It’s mainly an abstract concept that can help you have discipline and structure in your game.
I see value in experimenting and exploring. Some games I’ve done well playing with a very wide range, but it all has to do with whether the dealer is generous with my hands postflop, which is a luck based approach, not a skill based one. But some games I just hit every hand, it seems. Or if I don’t, then the table is soft and I can bluff profitably.
Other times, no matter what range I play, I get screwed by the dealer, and every time hand is a mirage. I do well, if I can, by playing as few hands as possible. It’s still a luck based approach in that if I’m playing fewer hands, then I pretty much must win every time, and that depends mostly on the dealer’s generosity and my propensity to pick the right moment to bet, but if I am extremely tight, it helps that to happen. The main thing is that by playing fewer hands, I conserve chips, minimize risk, minimize mistakes, and let the rest of the table make their mistakes before I can make mine. I can do better against a short handed table with a small stack many times than I can against a full table even stacked, because the dealer’s a rotten scumbag who is always setting me up with hands that should be good early on, but end up being one disaster after another.
So if you asked me what my range is, I would have to say that don’t feel like I have a single range. I have a flexible concept of what range I should play, and it depends on the structure of the game, my stack size, how my luck has been running, and a bunch of other things. In other words, it isn’t written in stone, and I’ve never done your spreadsheet exercise, although I have to admit anything you can do to Poker with a spreadsheet piques my interest.
You can try being scientific and rigid with this stuff, and I think that’s worthwhile for educational purposes, but I suspect that coming out of it, you’ll probably conclude as I have that flexibility works better once you have a good grasp of the factors that should be influencing your range.
Indeed. I take it to an extreme sometimes, playing almost a 0% range, depending on how the table is playing, and how little love I’ve been getting from the dealer lately, and just bide my time. It’s usually good for at least a 2-4 place boost in my finish.
In my post above, I mentioned that how both of my approaches, loose and tight, were both luck-dependent strategies. This begs the question: what, then, is a skill dependent strategy?
I thought about that a bit.
Maybe this is a good way to put it: Luck is in the cards. Skill is in the reading the table and in your actions.
Luck is great to have on your side, and it’s a lot easier to hit good luck when you pick better starting cards. And picking the right starting cards doesn’t take a whole lot of skill. Really it’s just a matter of recognizing a few things about probability, learning that certain hands that may look good aren’t really that good, and just being generally tight about picking hands to play, not regretting mucking hands that end up hitting trips or straights when it wasn’t a good idea to play those hands.
Skill comes into how you size your bets, and when you decide to act, and how you decide to act.
Learning to size your bet preflop so that it can isolate a player who you can beat is one major skill.
Learning to size your bets so that you can still lay down a hand when you have to is a good skill.
Learning when you should raise, re-raise, and call a raise is a very important, and advanced, skill.
Learning the amount you should bet so that you can fold out drawing hands when you need to, build value when you need to, or take a pot with a bluff when you need to are all important skills.
All of this depends a great deal on your ability to read the table.
Reading the table means understanding the hand beyond your own hand’s strength and its likelihood to improve.
It means understanding the size of the pot relative to the size of the players still in the hand’s stacks, and how that’s likely to influence their decisions.
It means reading your opponents actions, and measuring them against their observed patterns and tendencies, to know whether their action is likely a sign that they are strong, or that they are weak.
Picking a range of cards to work with that is more likely to have good luck with hitting the board, or not needing to to win, is a great foundation to apply your poker skills. But it is the skill game that will win you tournaments and chips. Skill capitalizes on luck, manufactures luck, and can bamboozle an opponent to get them to sacrifice their own luck.
, post:30, topic:14212"]
What does “swing hand” mean?
About half the time, i run with JJ. The other half, i treat them like pretty 8s. You’re aware of the pros and cons with both ways to go. There are a few other hands that won’t always get automatic aggression from go but often are played slow and deliberately. I’m guessing 50/50. They’re not totally in a limp or open ange. Naw, i don’t buy it either. I was just messing around. Never hurts to have things look different, now and then, on the off chance someone is watching.
There is a reason i’m spending time learning this and other fundamentals. i suspect that once you have a good foundation in the game, experience will teach you where to bend the rules, create variations, and maybe rewrite one or two, temporarily. I have no dreams of turning pro, but would like to play with people who are good, without embarrassing myself.
Recently, I jumped into a MTT, a few minutes late, and these two guys give me all their chips, in back to back hands. Lucky for me, the first guy prepared my stack for the next guy, who’s contribution was somewhat larger. I assume it was from stealing some blinds, and maybe winning someone’s stack. I don’t remember what either had, but i do remember being confused. Not only did their hands not support he raise, but I was qualified both times, and opened appropriately. Anyway, here i am, 4 or 5 hands in, and i easily triple the 2nd place stack. I play conservatively, and the stack stays stable and dominant. Now the MTT is around 15 players, and i’m thinking "How cool would it be to be chip leader from basically the beginning of the tourney. to the end? could have been luck, mistakes, perhaps a convergence of the better players, or maybe it was the poker voodoo that was unleashed the moment i thought about chips i hadn’t won yet. next time i happen to check, i was in 6th, and crashing. I barely make final table with enough chips to be the first one gone. Wait. If we aren’t thinking about chips we haven’t won yet, why play the game? Doesn’t matter. the poker voodoo creatures got other stuff to get me for.
[quote=“puggywug, post:30, topic:14212”]
So if you asked me what my range is, I would have to say that don’t feel like I have a single range.
When i first started hearing of a range of poker hands, i thought maybe experienced players had a precise list of hands, they must have, for each function they might perform with the hand. limp, open, 3-bet, limp behind, raise IP, raise OOP, ect, ect., all tuned to your seat at the table. That didn’t seem reasonable without years of playing a lot of hands, which i don’t have. Then I thought maybe a single list of hands that you might play, with limits, or markers that would designate which hands on the list i must have in order to perform one of the functions of the hand which may or may not be on the list.
Lately WantabeCoder has me looking at it from a different perspective. I guess there are smart people who devised a system that equates percentage points to various perils and tribulations that come with playing holdem poker. Word is, it works The percentage points are derived from the percentage of combinations that can exist within the range, in relation to the 2 card combos that exist in a deck. now i’m dealing with finite numbers, the number of combinations allowed. the lower the percentage, the tighter the range. Now you’re not looking at individual hands, but what of combos might be chosen to fit in that 13% box, er, range. There’s more to know, and that’s the dumbed down version, but that’s what i got from it. Wantabe, if you read this, set me straight, if need be.
TBH the reason i really need a range is i like to gamble. helps keep me from wanting to go for it, let it ride, put it all on black.
i set the sheet to anyone can edit. all it really does is convert hands to combinations and tracks the percentage being used. if you want to play with it, the link is
Before we talk about whether those are good ranges, @waidus, I’ll ask a fairly basic question… why have a limp range at all?
The typical reason to limp hands would be to grow the number of hands you can play preflop. It becomes cheaper for you to see a flop, so you can play a wider range. However, that comes with a significant cost.
Let’s take the ranges you outlined above. Your limp, swing, and open ranges comprise nearly 19% of your overall range. Of those, 7.9% are limps, 5.3% are “swing,” and 5.6% are open. What if you were to completely axe your limp range, combine your swing range and open range, and only play those as opens? You’ll end up playing far fewer hands, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Think about how it will make you to play against.
When you limp, then I should 3-bet you - even out of position - with anything stronger than AJo. That’s because I’ll be either a coin flip or far ahead of your entire limp and swing range. Against strong players, who will realize how weak your limping range is, you’ll end up throwing away the blinds too often for it to be a profitable move, since players behind you will often have a hand that weak. It also helps you get less value from your open range, pulling some of the strong hands that should be opening into a limp range.
Now, let’s consider the three ranges you put together, and whether they’re well-constructed: Open, Open+Swing, and Open+Swing+Limp.
Open: 5.6% of hands
Pocket pairs comprise just 24% of this range, which seems low. Strong suited hands are 27% - probably about right, or maybe a touch low - while unsuited hands are nearly half of the hands. I’d include TT and JJ and cut KQo to compensate, which would boost your pocket pairs to 41% of this range. I might also add 99 and either ATs or KJs while dropping AQo, but YMMV.
Open+Swing: 10.9% of hands
Pocket pairs are just 24/144 = 17% of this range, and offsuit hands are 58% of the range. You’re getting even more unbalanced here. Add more pocket pairs, while removing the weaker offsuit hands. At this point, you might want to add some suited wheel hands as bluffs, like A5s or A4s, which I prefer to QTs.
Open+Swing+Limp: 18.6% of hands
You should have all pocket pairs in your range here. Would you really rather hold 98s than 77? Drop the weak offsuit broadways, like QTo and JTo, to compensate.
Once you understand how to construct a range, you need to figure out when to play those ranges. A quick shortcut is to estimate the likelihood that your hand is better than everyone else’s, going a bit tighter if potential stronger hands will have position on you, and looser if you have position on them. For example, UTG 9-handed, you’ll have the best hand 1/9=11.1% of the time, but most of the players that might have better hands will be playing after you, so you’ll need to tighten up. I’d use something closer to an 8% range here.
What if someone before you raises? Well, let’s imagine that UTG opens and it folds to you on the button. If he’s playing an 8% range, you’ll need to at least match the strength of his range, you also have two players after you that could potentially have strong hands, and you’ll have position on all three after the flop. I’d look to 3-bet something like a 5% range here.
That’s a fairly accurate reading of what I’ve written so far. Pros will have an intuitive sense of what their ranges look like and how tight or loose they should be in certain spots; the rest of us need to do the off-the-table work in order to get there.
Ultimately, we can’t just have one range. That would lead to us over-folding in some spots, or over-calling/over-raising in others. We need to adapt the size of our range to the action before us and the potential action after us, while constructing our ranges to have a blend of strong made hands, strong drawing hands, and bluffs.
I entered a low entry tourney, yesterday, planning for it to be the last of the evening.
You may have read one of my posts about how ridiculously lucky i get sometimes. Back when i was a really loose with my calls, and it happened, i could feel how unpopular i was at the table, not to mention the comments. Even the nice people were disgusted. A little embarrassing, actually.
Well, this wasn’t one of those times. I folded the first couple of orbits, seeing 2 face cards, both Q trash. All my blinds were raised before me, so they got folded, too.
Over the next few orbits, I limped in a couple of 75s, an 85s, KJ, and a pair of 6s, but nothing got pass the flop.
The KJ just happened to come up right after a pop-up from forums, commenting on what a poor choice that hand is. However, I was BB and unraised, so I checked it in, only to fold to a raise when I didn’t improve and an A flopped.
Next comes another fold marathon. I must have set a record for 52o.
Now, i’m down to 5 or 6 BB, and KJo comes up again. I shove, and get called by K6. I don’t improve. He pairs the 6.
For some reason, i still have 193 chips. The next hand is A3o. I shove, and suck out a straight. This is to be my only win, and only the 2nd hand to get past the flop.
Must be becase i got better at folding. I’ve never sat at a table for so long, and get NOTHING. Even my folded hands remained dogs. The A3 was my only A.
Maybe luck does equal out, after all.
I get the strong made hands, strong drawing hands, and the need to adapt to table position, and table play, but still can’t connect to how bluffing affects your hand choices to fill a range.
I seldom stone cold bluff, but semi-bluff a lot, sometimes. Especially if i’ve been able to show only winners at showdown, and have been keeping my sizing consistent. Still, i don’t really plan to bluff. I see opportunities, and go for it, depending on the board, my image, and my perception of table play.
Am i looking at this all wrong?
I was just looking through my best hands, and was surprised to find i caught a royal flush, once. No memory, whatsoever, of getting it, even after watching the replay. However, i remember all to well, watching the board show quads, turning my fours full of nines into quad fours, with a nine kicker. losing to an A. What’s up with that? Should saving 5 losses for every win, be telling me something?