What is Your Opponents Range?

I’m working to get better at this. I believe one of the best skills at the poker table is to be able to read what your opponents are holding. The trick is to pay attention and remember everything that has happened in a hand. I often fail miserably at this, but it’s a work in progress.

Here’s why I’m working at it:

When we first learn to play poker, we are intently focused on the cards we are holding. Then it starts to dawn on us that we should actually put much of our focus on what cards our opponents are holding. Sometimes though, we can put way too much stock in what we think is our opponents exact holdings. You will hear players often saying things like ” I put him on Ace-Queen pre-flop”.

But you really shouldn’t get married to the idea that you opponent has a specific hand. Don’t put them on exactly Ace-Queen. Instead consider all the possible hands they likely have, and rule out hands they are unlikely to be holding, given the action that has taken place. This is putting them on a range of hands.

After the cards are dealt, they could of course have any 2 cards. But the moment a player takes his first action, you can immediately narrow down the range of possibilities. If they limp in, it is highly unlikely they have a premium hand (but be aware of certain players who will often trap this way). If they put in a raise, they likely do have a premium hand or a middling pair, or a hand with good post flop play-ability (like suited connectors).

Work to consider ALL the possible hands your opponent is likely to have given their action, their position at the table, and the action that happened before they act. Continue to hold this image.  On every street and with almost every action that is taken, you can then shrink down your opponents range of likely hands.

You can never know for sure, exactly what they are holding, but by paying attention and working at it, often by the turn or river, you will be able to narrow your opponents holdings down to only a few likely hands. In a tricky spot, perhaps facing a big bet on the river, you will then be able to make more confident and profitable decisions.

Here’s To A Life Of Fun & Games,

Poker Tip: Know Thy Enemy

Know your opponents. Study their play. This will help
you decide the best course of action.

For instance, there’s not much point in trying to bluff someone who calls almost any and every bet. Typically a ‘calling station’ is often content to just check his hand as well, giving you a free card when you need

Or if you are playing against an aggressive player, you often cannot afford to just check your good hand. When you do, you are encouraging them to bet into you, which may force you to then fold. You are often better to be the aggressor.

Push them before they push you. It’s also great to know that when you are
holding the Nuts against this type of player, you are free to check
and let them bet into you.

A check raise can be a very powerful & profitable move. It works best when you are quite certain your opponent will bet when you check. Again, knowing your opponents will help you with the timing of this play.

One strategy for learning more about a particular player is to
dedicate some time to watching only him. Pick one opponent
and pay attention to everything he does for awhile. How does he
check or bet when he’s strong? When he’s weak? After raising
pre-flop, does he always bet the flop, no matter what it is? Does
he often raise when he’s on the button to take advantage of his
position and/or steal the blinds?

Knowing the typical moves of each of your opponents will come
in very handy at some point.

Here’s To A Life Of Fun & Games,