word type: noun
- The term used to describe a poker player's likely or possible holdings.
Ranges and Decision Making
Identifying and evaluating players' ranges is the method used by the modern generation of poker player to determine the most +EV action in a poker hand. Quite simply, if you can get really good at narrowing down the range of hands that your opponents most likely hold, you will start to see some very, very good results.
Reading Ranges: Tournament or Game Dependant
First and foremost, reading ranges comes down to experience; an experienced player will be much more adept at reading opponents than a beginner, but that will change quickly for the novice as they log more hours at the tables. Secondly, ranging your opponents definitely varies depending on what stakes you're playing. For example, ranging your opponents in the $100r is going to be a vastly different exercise than it is in a $30 freezeout. Obviously, this is a very simple generalization, but it does hold weight.
Let's say you are in the early stages of a $109 freezeout on PokerStars with blinds at 10/20. The player UTG, who you know nothing about, raises to 90. A player who you know to be a very solid, very TAG regular makes it 270 in middle position, and it folds to you on the button, where you hold QQ. Given what you know about the good player who has just three-bet a UTG raiser, you decide to flat. His three-betting range in this circumstance is probably QQ+, and maybe JJ, though that less likely. The flop comes down 6c Jd 9s and the pot sits at 840. When UTG checks and the regular bets 700, the correct play would be to fold. Why? Well, because if you correctly ranged your opponent preflop, you beat nothing: JJ has flopped a set, QQ is highly improbable because you have QQ, and you're still behind KK and AA. This is a simple fold, given our knowledge of the player and his range.
Range reading often comes down to what you know about your opponent. If you're really familiar with an opponent's play, like in the above example, then you can narrow down their range pretty significantly. If you've never played your opponent before, the next best thing you can do is pay close attention to your tournament tables to glean as much information as possible from their play, and remember to take notes in case you come across them again in future tournaments. Ranging and ranges are not an exact, mathematical science, so they more information you can get on your opponents, the easier it will become.