Online Poker

Putting Opponents on a Range

Once you’ve graduated from only thinking about your own cards, it’s time to start thinking about what an opponent could have. And your best weapon for doing this is knowing how to put opponents on a range of hands.

What does it mean by Putting Opponents on a Range?

Putting an opponent on a range simply means defining a range of cards they could be holding. For instance, if your opponent has made huge bets from pre-flop to the river, it’s likely that their range is AA - JJ. Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into putting another player on a range so let’s take a closer look.

From the Beginning to the End

Putting opponents on a range isn’t just something that starts on the turn or river. In fact, if you haven’t gathered any information on an opponent by this point, you are in trouble! Instead, you need to be keeping track of everybody on each street and asking yourself questions. How much did the player under the gun raise? Who merely called pre-flop? Who re-raised and from what position? The point is that you need to be keeping track of information from the very start of a hand so you can put players on a range. This makes those difficult decisions on the turn and river much easier.

Example of putting an Opponent on a Range in Poker

While we can talk about putting people on a range all day, the most effective way to explain this concept is by going through an example. For instance, let’s say that you are playing $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em and the average stack size is $150. You are under the gun with A-K off-suit and you raise $6; two middle position players limp in and so does another player in late position.

At this point, you have very little information on any of the players since they all limped in. However, you can safely rule out anybody having AA - JJ, AK because they would re-raise you with a hand like this.

The flop is 10h-Kh-3s; you lead out with a $20 raise and everybody except for the late position player folds. Now you only have to worry about putting one player on a range, and the information you have is that they called both of your raises. Using this info and the board texture, you can eliminate a set (TT, KK, or 33) from their range because they would have re-raised on the flop; you can also throw out unsuited connectors because a realistic straight possibility is gone. So what you have now are late position flush draws, overcards, two-pairs and pairs, which would put your opponent’s range at:

AhQh-6h5h
AQ-QJ off-suit
K-x
10-x
99-44
22

Now this doesn’t totally narrow your opponent’s range down, but at least it’s smaller. The turn comes up 8h, which causes you to raise $25 and your opponent to throw out a $60 re-raise. You can further narrow your opponent’s range down since they’ve now re-raised you with a flush draw on the board.

You can probably eliminate trips 8’s from your opponent’s range since they wouldn’t have called raises with a pair of 8’s on the board. However, it’s very possible that they’re holding hearts and have hit their flush draw on the turn.

This leaves their range at:

AhQh-6h5h

Sure it’s possible that your opponent could be bluffing, but it’s more likely that they’ve thrown out a $60 re-raise because they have you beat. The board and betting patterns give you enough information to fold in this situation and avoid any further losses. Obviously, there is more to the equation after you’ve had time to analyze opponents, but using betting patterns and bet sizes gives you plenty of information to make tough decisions.

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