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Old 05-16-2017, 06:45 AM   #1
davidosss
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Thinking in Ranges

Hi guys,
I have problems thinking in terms of ranges at the table..

Away from the table I fairly naturally analyse my (and others) play thinking in ranges. But in the middle of the action I often find myself thinking like "he would bet X, Y and Z here. I beat X and he's laying me 3 to 1, I think he must have X more than 1/4 of the time so the call must be profitable". I guess the real problem lies in not judging the hand as a whole and thereby, when at the river, forgetting earlier actions and what range villain actually arives at the river with.. Because of this I often have no idea of how large part of his betting range that actually is X..

Anyone recognizing this problem? How did u solve it?
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Old 05-16-2017, 09:14 AM   #2
cAmmAndo
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Practice when not in the hand. Start at preflop. When a guy limp/calls middle posn. Ask what's his range? (Literally say those words in your head) Pps 22-99 suited Ax suited broadway some unsuited big bways and Ax.

Use broad categories. Narrow each street based on flop and action. At showdown was his hand in the range you ended up with?

Adjust if necessary, rinse and repeat.

Obv you can go back and reeval after significant or unexpected action but really when in the hand you want the progressive range narrowing to be guiding your own actions so you really want to have a sense of ranges, however broad, from the start of the hand.


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Old 05-16-2017, 11:18 AM   #3
dmccoy87
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

In my teenage years I would deal out 6-8 hands face up and walk through each decision step-by-step. "UTG raises AK, so UTG+1 will probably fold KT, ..." This exercise got me to think in ranges long before I ever heard of the term. By analyzing each decision point, you can funnel/narrow people's ranges down street by street. So by the time I get to the river, I can decide with some confidence if the hand being represented by villain makes sense. By doing this exercise with the cards face-up, I found it easier to visualize for when I was at the table and the cards were face down.

I never intended to do this as practice, I just did it because I was bored. I realized later on that it helped me with ranges. At the time, I didn't study poker and just watched WPT and played with friends, so I never heard of "ranges" or "equity" or stuff like that. It also showed me how calling with marginal hands out of position, even for very few chips, could hurt me in later streets.
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Old 05-17-2017, 11:46 AM   #4
davidosss
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Thanks a lot!

Tried the "face up cards"-excercise yesterday and found it very useful. Got to a lot of situations in which I had to motivate actions that I think i do routinely without good reasons.. Also saw clearly how player type and position intersect in the process of assessing ranges!

Will play some poker today and try to assess a lot of ranges when not in the hand. I really think that the idea of starting in broad categories might be something that I'm cheating in. Think that I too often try to assess a more narrow range than what is actually possible, especially in the earlier stages of the hand..!
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:18 PM   #5
Ragequit99
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Good advice above. I'll just add this:

Ed Miller suggests you think in terms of broad ranges but further lump them together into "weak fits" and "strong fits". A weak fit is a hand that continues this street and folds the next unless it improves. A strong fit is a hand that continues this and the next street without improving on the next card.

This technique helps you to think ahead in game so as well as making better reads you take better lines.

E.g. you open from the HJ to 4bb with some reasonable range, get called by a known reg in the big blind and see a headsup flop of:

Ac8h7h

V checks in front of you as he almost always does.

V's preflop call removes JJ+ AK from his range but his flop check tells us nothing useful.

He misses with: 66-22, KQs-K2s no hearts, KQo KJo, QJs-Q9s no hearts, QJo.

Weak fits: T9s no hearts TT 99 K8s Q8s 98s 98o T8s K7s 97s 76s 75s 54s JT no hearts.

Strong fits: 88 77 A8s A7s 87s AQ-A9 A6s-A2s KQhh-K2hh QJhh-Q8hh JThh T9 65s.

This is a useful way to divide up V's range because you can get a rough idea of how often he'll fold on the flop and how much of his continuing range will fold to a second barrel on the turn and which turn cards will improve V's flop weak-fits so they can continue the turn.

In my example V will fold less than half the time on this flop and he'll fold even less than half the time after calling the flop to see a turn. There are also a lot of turn cards that improve chunks of V's flop weak-fits: any heart 8, 9, T, J or Q.

My conclusion is this isnt a slam dunk "cbet my entire range" type spot. V hits often enough to be able to defend effectively here. Therefore I think I would cbet this flop for value and as a semibluff but I wouldn't bet a ton of air or under pairs. In fact I'd probably check back some weak AX and KK-TT despite the flush and straight draws out against me bease i know V will bet his whole range on the turn after I check a drawy flop IP. I would drop all pure bluffs on the turn, continue some of my draws while checking back with others, value bet AJ+ and check back at least some AT and weaker pairs.

Feel free to disagree with my ranges and lines - I'm only a mediocre poker player! Just spelling out my method for ranging opponents and deciding how to play my ranges.

Note that I'm guestimating the relative composition of V's ranges here, I haven't counted all the combos in each category or taken account of card removal effects. I don't have the brain power to do that at the table (or here really! ). In fact at the table my ranging of villain would be a bit more rudimentary too.

In game I'd be thinking in terms of:

Misses: 40% no pair no draw
Weak fits: 30% pairs < Aces and gutshots
Strong fits: 30% Aces+ OESDs and FDs

I'm just looking for a "good enough" rough estimate of how many and what types of hand go into the three buckets: missed, weak fits and strong fits. I just need enough to guide my initial decisions on the flop and then I'll narrow the ranges down over turn and river before even thinking about counting combos.

Last edited by Ragequit99; 05-17-2017 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:30 PM   #6
Rhombo
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

The problem with practicing when not in the hand is that we rarely flat raises that have a predefined range. We mostly get called with what could be top 70%; it just takes a lot of experience and practice. I find it mostly comes into play when deciding to bet middle pair.
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:39 PM   #7
Ragequit99
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

^ it is true no one else will have our ranges or play them as we would but we still benefit fom reading the active players in a hand. If we have the energy we can also think how we'd play our range as the PFRaiser.

The real problem is when games are super limpy because we really aren't ever open limping and very rarely over limping so we will never be in these type of pots ourselves as no one should ever have their limping range against us postflop.
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Old 05-17-2017, 02:17 PM   #8
dmccoy87
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidosss View Post
Thanks a lot!

Tried the "face up cards"-excercise yesterday and found it very useful. Got to a lot of situations in which I had to motivate actions that I think i do routinely without good reasons.. Also saw clearly how player type and position intersect in the process of assessing ranges!

Will play some poker today and try to assess a lot of ranges when not in the hand. I really think that the idea of starting in broad categories might be something that I'm cheating in. Think that I too often try to assess a more narrow range than what is actually possible, especially in the earlier stages of the hand..!
Glad it helped, good luck
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Old 05-18-2017, 08:47 AM   #9
davidosss
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ragequit99 View Post
Good advice above. I'll just add this:

Ed Miller suggests you think in terms of broad ranges but further lump them together into "weak fits" and "strong fits". A weak fit is a hand that continues this street and folds the next unless it improves. A strong fit is a hand that continues this and the next street without improving on the next card.

This technique helps you to think ahead in game so as well as making better reads you take better lines.

E.g. you open from the HJ to 4bb with some reasonable range, get called by a known reg in the big blind and see a headsup flop of:

Ac8h7h

V checks in front of you as he almost always does.

V's preflop call removes JJ+ AK from his range but his flop check tells us nothing useful.

He misses with: 66-22, KQs-K2s no hearts, KQo KJo, QJs-Q9s no hearts, QJo.

Weak fits: T9s no hearts TT 99 K8s Q8s 98s 98o T8s K7s 97s 76s 75s 54s JT no hearts.

Strong fits: 88 77 A8s A7s 87s AQ-A9 A6s-A2s KQhh-K2hh QJhh-Q8hh JThh T9 65s.

This is a useful way to divide up V's range because you can get a rough idea of how often he'll fold on the flop and how much of his continuing range will fold to a second barrel on the turn and which turn cards will improve V's flop weak-fits so they can continue the turn.

In my example V will fold less than half the time on this flop and he'll fold even less than half the time after calling the flop to see a turn. There are also a lot of turn cards that improve chunks of V's flop weak-fits: any heart 8, 9, T, J or Q.

My conclusion is this isnt a slam dunk "cbet my entire range" type spot. V hits often enough to be able to defend effectively here. Therefore I think I would cbet this flop for value and as a semibluff but I wouldn't bet a ton of air or under pairs. In fact I'd probably check back some weak AX and KK-TT despite the flush and straight draws out against me bease i know V will bet his whole range on the turn after I check a drawy flop IP. I would drop all pure bluffs on the turn, continue some of my draws while checking back with others, value bet AJ+ and check back at least some AT and weaker pairs.

Feel free to disagree with my ranges and lines - I'm only a mediocre poker player! Just spelling out my method for ranging opponents and deciding how to play my ranges.

Note that I'm guestimating the relative composition of V's ranges here, I haven't counted all the combos in each category or taken account of card removal effects. I don't have the brain power to do that at the table (or here really! ). In fact at the table my ranging of villain would be a bit more rudimentary too.

In game I'd be thinking in terms of:

Misses: 40% no pair no draw
Weak fits: 30% pairs < Aces and gutshots
Strong fits: 30% Aces+ OESDs and FDs

I'm just looking for a "good enough" rough estimate of how many and what types of hand go into the three buckets: missed, weak fits and strong fits. I just need enough to guide my initial decisions on the flop and then I'll narrow the ranges down over turn and river before even thinking about counting combos.
I like this sorting alot. I think that "good enough" estimates would be an awesome start!

How do you, at the table, get the numbers 40/30/30?
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Old 05-18-2017, 03:27 PM   #10
Ragequit99
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

I just guess but sometimes I then work it out away from the table and it improves my guess next time. I haven't worked out the correct % for the ranges in my example but maybe I should!

Also rules of thumb help:

- loose regs have a lot of AX so they hit A-high flops more and more strongly than any other
- they have lots of broadway and T9 J9 type stuff so they make high straight draws a lot
- they play fewer combos of low cards so they miss low dry flops a lot
- they play lots of connected cards so they'll typically hit widely spaced but connected flops like Q96 with a lot of weak draws and pair + draws

Your best bet is to write out some typical villain ranges (typical for your game) then run through representative flops seeing how they hit/miss, how strong they hit and how different turns affect their flop weak fits.

Something else to remember is a flop strong fit can go to a turn miss or turn weak fit on certain turn cards (scare cards).

My aim with this sort of slow tedious analysis is get an instinctive idea of which boards favour different lines. E.g. A-high boards are better cbet but not double barreled as a bluff. E.g. mid to high gappy connected boards are not good to cbet bluff and give up but can be doubled and triple barreled on certain runouts.

Thus your analysis away from the table helps you guess quickly and accurately at the table and gives you rules of thumb to help you think even faster at the table.
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Old 05-23-2017, 12:23 PM   #11
TexasKK
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Great discussion in this thread.

I have the issue that Davidosss mentioned. The ranges that I think in terms of, are not "big enough." That is, I will just forget to think of smaller, less important hands that villain might have called a PFR with. Hands like 34s, 45s, 67s, etc., I tend to disregard when the board comes KT9o. I need to remember the looser/LAG villain will call with more and so his missed range is going to be broader than tighter/TAG players. I tend to do this post-flop more than anything.

Also, a question. What about actual bluff ranges? How do you all categorize this? Do you think in terms of a general statement like, "Well, villain will bluff in this particular spot approximately 30-40% of the time"? Or do you break down specific hands/missed draws/scare card situations and think, "OK, he would be willing to bluff lower pairs that didn't hit sets (22s-99s) and missed straight draws (4 combined hands, in total). Therefore, there are at least 12 hands that could legitimately be turned into a bluff in this spot"? I hope I explained this right.
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Old 05-23-2017, 01:49 PM   #12
Ragequit99
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Re: Thinking in Ranges

Spotting when V has a sizeable part of his range with which he'll bluff is tricky and very villain dependent. Typically at low stakes a lot of players don't bluff often enough and they don't bluff for the right reasons or with the right bet sizes or correct stack depths.

They bluff infrequently and illogically so it's hard to figure out unless you see a load of bluffs shown down or they tell you about how they bluff (not uncommon).

These days a lot of people semi-bluff their flush draws so you'll have some confidence that a portion of an aggro player's range on the river is a bluff when the flush misses. Whether that is big enough a portion to warrant a bluff catch is obviously dependent on your hand and V's value range on the river. Frequently at low stakes you'll find spots where you know they are bluffing more than usual but it is still such a small part of their range that you can't profitably do anything about it.

This is very important: if a player doesn't bluff often enough to make calling with bluff catchers profitable then you should fold everytime even though they will sometimes bluff you off the best hand. This is an exploitative adjustment on your part. You profit by not paying off their value hands, not by catching their bluffs. You have to be psychic to do both against someone who rarely bluffs. Good ranging will help you see this is the case and allow you to make this exploitative adjustment. That's how your read helps you Vs this type of player.

Going back to spotting wide bluffing ranges:

You might be confident that some players are mindlessly a bluffing a lot on boards with a lot of straight draws on the flop that all miss. I'm thinking two broad way cards on the flop and blanks turn and river. If they are still betting a JT252 on river they are often polarised with a load of missed gutshots and OESD with AK AQ KQ Q9 98 hands making silly bluffs.

If you combine FDs, straight draws, two pair and trips draws, and overcard draws on the flop with bricks on turn and river you will find spots where aggro player's have much wider than normal bluff ranges.


The other thing to look for is when they end up with more bluffs proportionally because they prefer to check a lot of their range on the river rather than bet it.

In the JT252 example above villains will have few value hands they are happy to bet over three streets because they are afraid of being behind already. Sets, 2pair and overpairs are required for villains to triple barrel with confidence and even AJ will slow down on the JT252 board fearing it is behind against sets, JT or QQ.

By contrast an A7292 board is going to get bet by a lot of strong Aces (AT+) over 3 streets and simultaneously villains will have few bluffs by the river because they don't have hands with many outs to semi bluff. KQ, AQ or AK on JT252 board have straight and two over card outs the whole way so can easily end up in a bluff range on the river.


Turning weak hands into bluffs is something few low stakes players do and well worth taking note of if you see someone do it. I wouldn't assume an unknown player can do this. They certainly won't flop an underpair and elect to triple barrel it for all their chips. They'll check it at some point and when they bet it in stupid spots it is more often for "protection vs your AK" than an intentional bluff.


Going back to the reasons for bluffing and why most players at low stakes get it wrong:

You should bluff when your opponent's range is wide and weak and he is likely to overfold.

You should bluff a certain amount for balance when facing very strong opponents.

You should not bluff just because you can represent some specific hand.

You should not bluff just because you have outs to some strong hand.

You should not bluff because you can't win otherwise.

If you can workout the reasons behind a particular opponents bluffs you'll be able to assign more accurate ranges. A strong player is going to bluff most when he perceives your range to be weak. A bad player bluffs for a variety of erroneous reasons. The biggest bluffer's bluff because they have chips in their stack and they missed their hand!

A good player will bluff with outs and because he can credibly represent a hand but only after he's established that his opponent has a weak range that he'll overfold. A strong player will choose to bluff when stack sizes and SPR make it likely to succeed and he will choose bet sizes that maximise his profit. Importantly that doesn't mean a strong player only uses huge bets. A strong player decides which part of your range he expects to get folds from and bets just enough to get the job done. Sometimes that requires big bets, sometimes small bets will do.

Also a strong player may bet expecting a call but confident of getting enough folds later to be +EV. The initial bet may be sized to be callable while the next bet is mostly too big to be called by much of his opponent's range.


Say you flat and see a flop of 7s7h2c from the blinds with 99 headsup vs a strong and aggressive player in the HJ.

Villain cbets the flop. What proportion of bluffs does V have? Probably a lot of bluffs. Why? Flop is dry and hard to hit so you are likely to fold now or on the turn with all your unpaired hands. So you call.

Turn: 7h7s2c 5h

V bets again after you check (you're just going to play this hand passively for my convenience!). What bluffs can V have here? He may bluff with any hand that picked up outs on the turn, so hands with a 5, two hearts or a straight draw. Typically these hands continuing to bluff the turn will have at least one overcard to your likely small overpairs too: J, Q K or A.

River is: 7h7s2c 5h Tc

You check one more time and our aggressive opponent bets pot. Now how often does he bluff here? Well he missed with all the hands that picked up outs on the turn, he missed with most of his over cards, a scare card to your 99 88 and 66 arrived and you didn't x/r turn so don't have many trips or boats. V perceives you to be weak and scared, the T might scare you further and he has plenty of hands with which he could bluff. On the other hand he has only got AA-TT 55 22 ThXh and a few 7X hands that he can bet for value. He might even elect to check back his rivered pair of Ts and even JJ/QQ if he fears you might try to trap him from time to time.

You guestimate or count out combos for V's value and blluff ranges, compare them to your hand and the pot odds and decide accordingly.


Against strong opponents it therefore pays to read your own hands so you can get inside their heads and see when they think they can bluff you. You should be aware of your ranges for other reasons too so make a habit of thinking about your whole range at each decision point, not just what you currently have.

Last edited by Ragequit99; 05-23-2017 at 01:58 PM.
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