I’ve never felt as though I was playing a “perfectly defined” range, either. I’m not looking to define a rigid range that I never deviate from. But I AM interested in seeing how closely my actual play matches up with my plan.
To the extent that you could say that I have a range, or that my play implies a range, mine does adjust based on the numerous factors that I have been omitting for sake of brevity. The point of this thread isn’t to establish a good set of parameters that can be used to adjust a range, although that’s also a good topic. The point of this thread is to see if I am actually playing hands that I consider “playable”.
Obviously, plans sometimes need to change, and it’s fine to deviate from a plan, but I think ideally one would want to do so consciously, and for a good reason.
My investigation is to see whether or not I am disciplined, and how much I am drifting from plan, and whether that might be getting me into trouble.
For example, there were at least three or four key hands in my Sunday Golden Donks victory that were outside my usual range:
Limping Q8 from the SB seat, about 40-45 minutes into the tournament. It hit two pair, improved to a full house, and my first double up. But arguably Q8 is a bad hand to play from early positions. I did play it, on a hunch, with only one limper + the BB, on the grounds that I was halfway limped in and the blinds were still relatively cheap. I hit a windfall.
QJs on the button, at the final table. Blinds were sky high at 1k/2k, and I raised about half the stack of the SB, hoping that I could steal, and they jammed on me. I called, not really liking it, because while QJs is decent to raise with, it’s not a great hand to call an all-in. I hoped my villain was just trying to bluff me off to defend his blinds. But he flipped up KK, and I ended up sucking out a straight.
Another hand at the final table, I was starting to dwindle and felt like I needed a steal to stay viable, so I shoved K5s, and unfortunately got called by QQ. But then the flop bailed me out, giving me 2 pair, KK55, and I doubled up instead of stealing the blinds. Maybe with the blinds this big you do need to play wider, since stacks are effectively short. I dunno. But I felt like I was lucky here.
Final hand, I called a shove from ATo with A6s, and hit a backdoor flush to win the game. Ordinarily I would not want A6 in my usual playing range, but heads up, with blinds at 2k/4k, and having a 2-3:1 stack advantage, I was willing to gamble. I was dominated, he paired his Ten on the flop, but again I sucked out with runner-runner hearts. This was luck, not skill. I’ll take it, but maybe next time I should think twice.
A few hands prior to the final, heads up, I got 99, flop came in low, i have a hidden overpair. My opponent shoves, having a straight draw, i call, he hits it, and takes the big stack from me, leaving me with just around 30k left.
A hand or two later, in desperation I put in half my stack on Q9s, and flop two pair with it, shove, villain calls with top pair Ace, and I double back up and retake the lead. I only wanted to steal blinds with that raise, but again I got a huge windfall due to the luck of the deal. If I’d made a standard open to 2-3BB, that would have been about 12-15k - - I went to about 25k, and left myself no room for error. I was committing my game to that hand, and while it paid off, it might have been safer to go with the standard open. But then, if I shove a 1.5x pot overbet on the flop, would he still call with top pair, only defending around 10k chips? Maybe… Maybe not. If he folds, I win a smaller pot and he still dominates me with his chips and has more chances to put me all in with a better hand.
I don’t know that any of these plays were particularly bad, but all had favorable outcomes for me. I just as well could have ruined my game with any of them. I could have backed off of the early Q8 hand if I had missed the flop, without much consequence. But the final table hands were all plays I didn’t absolutely need to make, and if I had had bad outcomes from them, it would have been clear they were bad times and bad hands to try and steal with. Did I win despite myself? Was I due? Does range theory help in these situations, or was calling an audible necessary in these places?
I suspect that for much of the game, sticking to my preferred range was the best for me. And at that final table, I definitely folded “playable” hands much more than these ones above: K9o, K7s, middle Aces, low suited Aces, low pocket pairs. Hands that I will sometimes play with as part of my range in other situations.