How often have you heard an amateur poker player try and put a player on a single hand? Most players make the mistake of attempting to put a player on exactly two cards when in reality their actions and tells could represent a range of different holdings.
By putting an opponent on a specific range of hands, you’re essentially assigning certain card values that they could have. For example, if you see a tight player re-raising pre-flop, you can probably assume that their range is AA, KK, QQ, AK.
In this particular situation, you would need to have hands in this assigned range to actually consider making a call, and if you’re playing deep stacked enough to offer us good implied odds, you can also consider set mining with low and medium pocket pairs, as there is a great chance of getting paid off when you hit your set.
How To Put An Opponent On A “Range”
There are several things that a person needs to consider when attempting to put an opponent on “range” of hands and predict what they may do with parts of this range based on prior history or assumptions you can start making about the player.
Position is one such important consideration when evaluating a hand range of an opponent. This is because any positionally aware opponent understands the importance of position and will be raising a narrower range of hands in early positions at the table and opening up in later positions as there is a greater chance the blind steal will work and even when called they will have the initiative and position in the hand.
So even though a TAG player who is raising 8% of hands pre-flop, which in pokerstove equates to AA, AK, AQ AJ, ATs, QQ, JJ, TT, 99, 88, KQs that is not to suggest the same player is raising the same range of hands from the CO, which is considered to be late position at the table.
A player’s HUD (heads-up display) statistics (VPIP, PFR, 3bet%, etc) that show in real time at the table for players who are using poker trackers like PokerTracker or Holdem Manager will also help you to put an opponent on a range of hands when you’re playing online poker. A tight aggressive (TAG) player is entering most pots with a raise. The PFR stat (which stands for pre-flop raise) tells you what percentage of hands they open raise with before the flop. Using the pokerstove calculator you can manually input different percentages and see what ranges they correspond to. Try it for yourself. You can see that a 15% range consists of 77+, A7s+, K9s+, Q9s+, JTs, ATo+, KTo+, QJo.
Generally it’s a bit easier playing against a tight range. Against someone who is raising an extremely narrow range of hands in under the gun position, you can fold everything but your good hands and consider re-raising your premium hands. Playing against a wider range of hands can be a little trickier since they’re playing a wider variety of hands that can hit the board in a lot of different ways. For example, a loose player will open hands like A3 and so on boards like 3-3-T it’s possible that villain has trips, whereas you’re not really considering a tight player to have trips on this board as they’re much more likely to fold 3x hands.
When analyzing hand ranges you need to take into account the board texture and how it relates to hand ranges. What hands in their range connect with the flop? Once you can define an opponent’s hand range, and how it connects with the board, it will allow you to determine the strength of their holdings.
So by paying close attention to the number of hands played we should be able to put our opponent on a hand range. Obviously this skill takes a lot of practice but it will become second nature after some time and you will be able to do it with pretty good accuracy once you’ve mastered it.