What Are Ranges?
At its core, ranges are a group of hands your opponent may hold. For instance, if your opponent raises from the middle position, he could have hands ranging from pocket aces to seven-deuce offsuit.
This range of hands is known as his “range.” Given this information, you can then narrow down his holdings and make an educated guess as to what hand he has based on the action he has taken so far in hand.
Why They’re Important
Ranges are especially important when it comes to post-flop play. After the flop, your opponent’s range changes drastically depending on the board texture and his actions (e.g., check-raising or calling).
By understanding the concept of ranges and how they interact with different board textures, you can predict more accurately what types of hands your opponents may be holding in different situations.
Types of Ranges In Poker
Tight Ranges: Made up of strong hands with a good chance of winning. These hands are usually played in late position when fewer players are left to act.
Loose Ranges: Contain a wider variety of hands, including some weaker than average. These are often used in early positions to steal the pot with a surprise bet.
Aggressive Ranges: Generally more profitable than tight or loose ones but can also be riskier. These are made up of hands that have a good chance of winning but also have the potential to lose if they’re not played carefully. Aggressive players often use these to bluff their opponents and win pots that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to claim.
Using Ranges to Your Advantage
Of course, identifying ranges is one thing; using them to your advantage is another. When playing against an unknown opponent whose range is wide open preflop (such as when facing an opening raise), it’s usually best to play tight and only get involved with premium starting hands like pocket pairs or suited connectors.
Against these wider ranges, it’s often better to be patient and wait for a strong made hand or draw before getting too aggressive with marginal holdings like middle pair or gutshots.
On the other hand, if you know that your opponent’s range is tighter than usual—say if they have been playing extremely tight preflop.
You can adjust accordingly by widening your range of playable hands against him and being more aggressive with weaker holdings, such as suited connectors or gutshots with good implied odds versus his narrower preflop range.
Finding What Works For You
Ranges can be combined in many different ways to create unique playing styles. Some players use tight ranges when they’re in an early position and loosen up as the game progresses. Others may play aggressively from the start, trying to take down as many pots as possible. It is important to find a style that works well for you and stick with it.
Understanding ranges should be integral to any serious poker player’s arsenal. By understanding how different board textures affect your opponents’ likely holdings, you can make more informed decisions about what type of action you should take in each situation.