Useful Things To Know About Ranges

"Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach" - Aristoteles

So this seems to be the best chance for me to find out if I truly 
understand what I'm trying to refelect at the poker tables!

Dry stuff ahead!


Ranges in Poker

A Range in Poker simply is a Group of Hole-Cards, a specific player will
use the same line with, under the exact same circumstances. (for 
example: same Posi; same Player-Type; same action before him etc. etc.)

A player Open-Raises UTG only with AQo and better, KQs, AJs and better 
and Pocketpairs 88 and higher in "Forum-Language" his range would be:


which covers every possible Starting-Hand in this Range.

To keep things simple we use our Ranges often times in a Card-Matrix.
same exact Range
Because we love numbers in Poker, especially percentages, we do exactly 
that for Ranges, too. So we cut things down. Every possible dealt Pocket-
Cards are 100%. So we can get for every single Range a different 

In our example this is 6.18 %

Considering the action he takes on later streets we can remove some
hands from that initual Range. 

That's the easy stuff every beginning Pokerplayer knows within hours.
So let's dig some deeper!


Polarized Range

When a player has ether a very strong hand or a bluff, (a very weak hand) 
he has a polarized Range! 
A mediocre Hand is not in the Range!

This is explained best with an easy Preflop example.

If a player with a polarized Range 3-bets you Preflop (for example CO 
vs Button), he ether has a very strong Hand or a bluffing Hand!
His Value Range (Good Hands) might look like this

Polarized Value Range.jpg


While his other Range consists of Bluffs only.
His Bluffing Range might look like this

Polarized bluff Range

It should not be possible for him to have a mediocre Hand in between,
for example KQ or a middle pair, because he would call with that kind
of a Hand.

A polarized Range is not only a Preflop thing tho.
For example if you keep Value-Betting your Top-Pair, Top-Kicker
and the River finishes a possible straight, but the flushdraw 
on the flop did not complete.

Villain now donks into you.

You read your oponnent for ether having a Set, 2 Pair, the straight.
(his value hands) Or you read him for a missed flushdraw (his bluffs).

It is very unlikely he donks on the river with Top-Pair, Second-Kicker
or another value hand you can beat, because he has Showdown-Value
and would be happy to see a Showdown for free.

(later in this article I mention "Range merging", this would be a spot 
where Second to Third Pairs are almost as valueable as your TPTK because 
you beat his bluffs but not his value hands) 

In this case we have to count the Combinations of Hands we can beat,
vs the combos that want to get value from us. 
Here we have alot more value combos than bluff combos.
So we should tend towards folding unless we have a little dynamic going 
on between the two of us. 

But that would be different if both, the Flush- and the Straightdraw, 
didn't finish on the River. Just know your oponnent! If you are in 
the hand with a Loose-Passive player who simply would never bluff,
we pretty much always have to fold. (unless some ridiculous undersized

That was just a small Thinking Process for Range merging and
Combinatoric, I hope at one point in the future I will write
an article about both things.


How to get money from People who use polarized Ranges?

In general it is good to have a polarized Range if you are well
balanced! (if you have 90% bluffs and 10% value hands it's probably
not good to have a polarized Range!)
Whenever you noticed, that someone showed up with a polarized Range
at a showdown, you should make a note that he knows about the concept!
(Because not everyone uses, or knows about it)
There will be Spots that are very hard for him to hit something strong.

Let's stick to our preflop example ranges.
We called someone with a polarized Preflop-3-Bet-Range. (As discussed

Flop comes down with something like 762 rainbow.

The best possible hands he can have on that flop considering the Range
we gave him are:

-76s for Two Pair (his preflop 3-Bet-Bluff).
-AA-JJ for an Overpair (as his Value-3-Bet)
-89s+56s for an Open-Ended-Straight-Draw (his preflop 3-Bet-Bluff)

This could be one of the Spots where we can Raise up his C-Bet to represent
a very strong Hand ourselfs, knowing that it is very difficult for him
to have something that can withstand our Raise.
strong hand
Strong hand vs Weak Range!
Another example is, when the board pairs with Second- or Third-Pair 
(like AT58T) we can call a guy with a polarized Range easier 
than someone with an unpolarized Range. (with our TPTK for example)


Merged Range (Unpolarized Range)

A Merged Range consits of Strong hands and Mediocore hands and usually
no weak hands. 
An unpolarized Preflop-Range for example does not have gabs in between 
and only consists of the best Starding-Hands without to many additional 
"High-Implied-Odds-Hands" like Suited Connector or small Suited Aces.
A Player with a merged Range will in general raise Second-Pair-Type 
of Hands the same way he would raise very strong hands. 
His 3-Bet-Range will not consist of any real bluffs, the bottom end of 
his 3-Bet-Range would be Hands like 88 and KQs, mostly because of 

While it is not completelely true, alot of Button- and SB-Open-Raise-
Ranges are unpolarized (+ some adititional SC + 1 Gapper)
SB Open Range
SB open Range example
To better understand the really huge differences between merged 
and polarized here are 2 different 3-Bet-Ranges with the same % 
of hands, Merged vs. Polarized! Take into consideration that
there are 3 times as many unsuited Combos as there are suited
merged 6,79%
6.79% unpolarized Range
Polarized 6,79%
6.79% polarized Range



6.79% =/= 6.79% 
In general the handstrenght of a merged Range is stronger than 
the same Range-% of a polarized Range!

If you would let run this 2 Ranges against each other the merged 
Range will win 52.73% of the time over the polarized Range!

How to abuse a merged Range

Certainty is rare in Poker!
But if you have the feeling, that one Player only uses merged preflop
Ranges, you should write it down in his notes.
If he proofs you wrong you can still remove the note later on.

While it is harder to make a specific play on someones "Range-Type" than
on someones "Player-Type" there are still a few "adjustments" we can make.

But remember that some players will use a merged Range Preflop
and continue with that exact Range polarized on the flop (for example)

Sounds complex? Yeah I'm going to stop here on that matter.

So in general to abuse a merged Range (Preflop) just remember there 
are more "Higher-Cards" in their Range, and also more middle Pairs + 
Facecards in their 3-Bet Ranges. 

They have hardly any real bluffs. From time to time guys with merged
Ranges will arrive with 2nd Pairs at showdown when you would think he 
can only play a really strong hand the way he just did.
Merged Ranges in general are used by weaker players, but can also
be used very efficient by "Range Merging" as a 3rd Level Thinker.
(Usually only on higher limits!)

A merged Preflop Range gains in strenghts the higher the blinds are,
because of the higher Showdown-Value (good to know for tournaments)


Elastic / Inelastic Ranges


Beton                                            Gummi

Elistic- and Inelastic-Ranges are calling concepts. 

"Inelastic calling Range" means you have a preset opinion about a hand
and have already planned to call. the Betsize does not really matter!
While if you have an elastic Calling-Range you base the decision
whether to call or to fold on the Bet/Raise Amount you are facing.

This is easy to understand. Even tho you might not yet have heard 
of the terms, I believe you still automatically use the better


Elastic Calling-Range

Every decent player should have an elastic Calling-Range.

A little example for an elastic Calling-Range:

We have Second-Pair Top-Kicker on the Flop and face a C-Bet.

 1/4 Pot = call right?
 1/2 Pot = Probably still call
 2/3 Pot = Borderline
 3/4 Pot = I'd rather fold but vs some guys I will call
     Pot = Usually fold unless some overly agressive Players
>2 x Pot = Almost always fold right?

this is elastic and good!

How to abuse an Elastic Range

You can't!
Use the same Bet-size all the time. (95% of the time!)
Sometimes you can differenciate from the norm, but I'd suggest 
only to vary when you have a clear reason for it.

Few Small Examples when I would differ my Bet-size vs an 
"elastic Caller":

-AJ on QKT9x Board: I would oversize my bet in this spot
-AA-QQ on double barreled 83732: I would bet 20-40% of the pot to get
 more value from 99-JJ and AT (because I think those hands fold to 
 another standart-sized Bet)
-Backdoored a flush vs straight possibilities: I raise very high here


Inelastic Calling Range

An inelastic Calling Range is used by bad player exclusivly. 
It does not matter to them what Bet-Size they have to call. 
Once, they made their decision to call, they will call any "normal"
Sure at one point they might find a mirracle fold with their 
Third-Pair-No-Kicker, but only if you really oversize the Bet.

Same example for a guy with an inelastic Range, 2nd pair on flop,
no draws.

1/4 Pot = Call
1/2 Pot = Call
3/4 Pot = Call
    Pot = Call
2 x Pot = Start questioning!

He is always calling unless you obviously announce that you have 
the Nuts!


How to abuse an inelastic Calling Range

This is easily abuseable and easy to find out on Reg Tables. 
Make a note!
(In Zoom it is harder to figure out those tendencies)

Just raise bigger than usual when u have it, and small when u don't 
have it yet, but a good draw that will give you a winning hand if
you hits (Blocking Bet within your Odds!) If you are certain they would
not raise even tho you check, checking is even better!

And don't think that they will get behind your betting patterns.
Those are the fishes we have to target to win big. They won't adjust!
We will adjust towards them! Not the other way around.


Capped Range

If someone has a capped Range that means we can remove some hands out
of his Range. This is mostly used to remove the top Hands, but it can
also work for the buttom part, in which case we have to fold more and 
bluff less. (not at all!) 

Since I do not intend to (yet again) write a book we will only focus 
on removing the strong Hands out of someones Range.

You loved my examples so far? Great!
Here is another two!

Some players always Raise AA and KK (Recommendation: Raise it 90%! 
Call 10%) (But never ever call it multiway!!)
So if you found a player like this and this exact player calls your 
Raise-First-In, you can be sure he does not have AA nor KK in his Range.
If a Flop like AK2 comes down, the best hands he can hold are 22, AK, 
A2 and maybe K2 (if he is a fish). 

A Set of Aces (and Kings) is not possible! (The nuts in this case)

So it is very important to be somewhat balanced.
I'm very well aware not many players in the Micros are capable of
figuring out those tendencies. But the higher the limit the more
people will be able to catch up on stuff like this!

The next time you get Aces, just remember this Blogpost, smoothcall
preflop and blame me for whatever is going to happen!

my fault

Another Great example that happened not to long ago for a capped 

My friend was Heads-Up in a 30$ Buy-In tournament. His Oponnent had 
a few huge leaks in his Heads-Up game. It didn't take to long until
my friend had figured out one of them, and abused it big-times!

Villain raised frequently and also folded some hands. His general
Heads-Up approach didn't look to bad on the first glimpse.

However, Villain sometimes (rarely) only completed the Big Blind.

That's what he did when this hand occured:

Friend's hand is not relevant, he sits in the Big-Blind.

SB completed, friend checked his option.

Flop A83

Friend checked, Villain Bet, Friend called (with air).

Turn Q

Friend checked, Villain Bet, Friend Raised, Villain Folded.

So what exactly happened in this hand? Great random Bluff everyone would
make sometimes? Far off!

My friend figured out, that it's impossible for Villain to have an Ace.
Villain Opened alot of hands before, so every single Ace would definetly be
in his Open-Raise-Range.

Also it is impossible for him to have any kind of Pocket-Pairs judging 
his frequent Open-Raises.

Villains Range was capped and he needed to fear the Ace unless he
hit something ridiculously strong like 2-Pair.

Considering the blinds where huge and both of them only had 20-30 
Big-Blinds, my friend won a huge pot without the need of a good hand.
Just a simple read on his oponnent eased the way to victory and 
glory! Thanks to the simple concept of capped Ranges!
WSOP Champion – Habit’s friend!

Final Words

It comes in handy to know all of that stuff about Ranges. Keep your eyes 
open and make decisions based on the facts you have at the tables.
Maybe this can add a few more Big-Blinds to your Winrate!

Also it is very very important to make notes about that stuff! 
(I guess you figured thatone out already, since I preached about it 50 times 
during this post)


Check out this Blog next weekend again for my March Recap.
Subscribe to this Blog or follow me on twitter, to always stay up-to-date 
when something new gets published.

Thank you so much for reading.

2 thoughts on “Useful Things To Know About Ranges

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