Select Page

ISF – Putting Together Ranges: Practice

A great piece of advice Sauce123 gave me is put people on ranges on every street. I tell this to many people and post it in many threads, because it is some of the best advice around. But sometimes you can hear something, try it, and just not get it. So this week, I’m going to give tips on how to put people on ranges on every street.


Preliminary to this you need to know how to read hands. Unfortunately, there is no quick way to learn how to read hands. Getting good at hand reading takes a mix of solid focus and commitment to playing and studying. Although, I’d like to emphasize the focus factor. I remember when I got coaching from Vanessa Selbst one thing I was absolutely amazed at was the precision in which she could read hands. I also remember sessions I have where my hand reading is crystal clear. When it is I start making calls and plays I normally never even touch, but when you know someone’s hand it’s not that hard to play well!

The hand we’re going to practice on is a hand posted by Alexos in the short handed forum:

https://www.flopturnriver.com/pokerforum/short-handed-nl-holdem/blind-battle-some-history-153348.html

So we’re in a “blind battle” (the reason I put this in quotes is people tend to think that aggression is very high in blind versus blind but it’s really not in my experience) and we’re faced with a flop of Td8s2s. From a range perspective this isn’t a great flop to bet on. Much of a cold calling range consists of low sc’s and low pp’s. He may not fold any pp to a bet on this flop, though if I was opp I probably would fold 33-77. You’re just going to get two barreled too much by good scare cards or drawn out too much by the river. But with hands like 76,89,J9,QJ,JT,T9,T8,Q9,87,86,QT,KT, any fd, or any other hand that he wants to float he’s not folding to a cbet. That is a lot of hands. So when we see that we have a hand like top two pair we should be ecstatic. Some newer players may think check on this flop because we have the deck crippled, but don’t be fooled.

Now when he calls I immediately decrease the likely hood of certain hands: sets, two pair, and fd’s. All can still be in his range on the turn but these are hands I’m expecting to be raised on the flop by a fair amount. Every other hand I mentioned is cold calling much more substantially than being raised. So when the turn card comes a Ks, people tend to think “Oh shit that sucks,” mostly if they have a holding like 89 or TJ, JJ, AT, type thing. But note the first range we formed. It has one K in it. The K is actually a great card, and the spade isn’t too bad either. This is a spot where people expect for a very strong range to bet and weaker and medium range to check, yet this exact board doesn’t call for this action at all. You should be betting a lot. If I were Alexos I’d probably bet every hand that we cbet, besides maybe midpair or 99. Yes, it is exploitable but who cares? This guy is going to be folding a ton, and if he doesn’t we can easily fire another on the river expecting a fold.

But we have T8, and we bet of course. If we get raised though, what do we do? Again, at first it seems like we should possibly fold. We are repping such strength, why would he bluff here? It looks exactly like a flush as well. The problem is that he’s repping too thin of a range and we have outs versus a flush. He does have some hands he could turn into bluffs, like a straight draw with a flush draw, or he could’ve floated a hand like KJ/KQ and now wants to get it in. Maybe even a K with a flush draw. It doesn’t sound like much but when someone’s repping that thin of a range we can’t just give up. So we should go for the threebet all in and hope for the best. Do we lose to a flush sometimes? Yeah of course we do. But let’s not be results oriented. We knew it was a possibility from the beginning, it doesn’t take away from the fact that it was a fine play. You don’t need to be ahead here 100% of the time for this to be good, only about 1/4th of the time.

Another hand we’re going to do is just made up but nonetheless important.

You are facing a nitty 15/12 type player. Doesn’t bluff much at all. He tends to be on the passive side, and isn’t a good value bettor. You have AA UTG and raise 4xbb, to $8, in a 1 / 2 game. Everyone folds except nitty player in the SB who calls…

BWA BWA BWA, RED TEAM GO, RED TEAM GO!!!

If alarm bells didn’t go off in your head they probably should’ve. Anytime you get a call from a decent player from the blinds when you have raised in UTG or MP, it’s a pocket pair a lot, maybe 90% of the time. So 22-99 probably 87% of the time, TT 3% of the time, and sc’s plus JJ or something random the rest of the time.

So the flop comes 852. We cbet standard amount, and surprisingly get raised about 3 times that much. Since we’re in position I like to call once, as again, they are repping such a thin range, but then I likely fold to a turn bet. I know that you post this type of hand a lot and good players post in the thread and ask you if you’re on PCP. You have to understand, in the games we play in we don’t normally experience play that nitty, so there’s no way we could even think about folding. But I do remember, although it’s hard to, that there is play that nitty at your level. And that it is possible that even though we have AA here we still could fold. But make sure when you do fold in a spot like this you’re doing a correct range analysis. Even if we change the opponent we are facing to a 40/0, I’d never fold here. Even if he shows up with 99-KK sparingly, we still should take it all the way. You have to understand that having 88,55,or 22, even though this is the exact same line we would expect him to take with those hands, is less likely than 99-KK even if we expect him to take this line just some of the time, rather than all the time with a set.

It’s just mathematical probability. If a player played either the hand 76s or 88 only, assuming they are equally likely occurrences preflop, and the flop came 852, he’s much more likely to have 76s than 88. Do the math.

Anyways that’s it for this week. If you ever want to post a hand for me to analyze feel free to go to the FTR forums and post it.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *