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What are 'Ranges'?

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Poker theorist David Sklansky stated in his book 'The Theory of Poker', that to play a hand correctly, is to play exactly the same way you would if you knew your opponents cards. Whilst what Sklansky said is true, poker is a game of imperfect information and we do not 'know' for sure what our opponents hold. So when playing poker in practise, we play against a group of possible hands that our opponent might hold. It is this group of 'possible hands' that poker players call our opponents 'range'.

As we get more and more information in a hand the further we progress in it, our opponents 'range' should become narrower and narrower the further into a hand we progress.

In poker there are a lot of hands that people refuse to play pre-flop, pretty much ever, for example hands like:

94  73  107  j5  Q2

The question you have to ask yourself is: how likely is it that your opponent who has chosen to play preflop (called a raise or raised himself) has one of these hands? It's not very likely is it?

We can therefore eliminate these hands from our opponents 'opening range'. An 'opening range' is simply the hands that we or our opponents choose to enter the pot with for a raise when we are the first ones in. We can actually eliminate quite alot of possible hands in poker straight off by using this method.

For example; If we think our opponent will play the following:

1) Every suited Ace.

2) A9 and any better off-suit Ace.

3) Every single combination of broadway card. *Broadway cards are any suit of the following cards:

A  k  q  j  10

4) Every single combination of suited connector cards. *Suited connectors are cards that are suited and consecutive: e.g.

56  89  23  78

5) Every single combination of suited one gapped cards. *The following would be examples of suited one gappers:

24  57  810  79

 

Below is a hand chart with our opponents theoretical range highlighted:

 

We can see from the graphic above that this hand 'range' accounts for only 26.1% of the possible hands in poker. We can therefore eliminate 73.9% of possible poker hands from our opponents 'opening range' just from the pre-flop action!

In the questions we will use the theoretical 'range' outlined above for the possible hands our opponents are willing to play. With this in mind have a go!

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