Your Range Does Not Matter

It isn’t supposed to be click bait. Your ranges do not matter… At least not in the way that you think they do. A range is not definitive. Some players just play certain cards without really understanding what a range is. Yes, you can find ranges on the internet. They are easily accessible if you take a few minutes to look for them, but even if you downloaded them, you probably wouldn’t use them in the way they were intended. You wouldn’t pay attention to the specific instructions included with them that tell you the very specific way of how to use them. Once you have memorized the combos that it contains, you do your best to play what you have been told is defined as a range. The problem is that you still get stacked. As you sit there questioning life and poker. You begin to place blame on these ranges. The very ranges that you have spent hours meticulously memorizing. You might even check to see if the person who took your money played correctly. Did they play a hand that they are allowed to have? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that they made the decision to play the hand. Your ranges do not matter.

The average player is looking down at two pieces of paper with images and a value printed on them and deciding if they want to play. Your opponents are not thinking about what their range looks like to you. They see a proposition to try and see a flop. They might consider the size of the pot, if it’s cheap enough, they will call. Even experienced players will do this. They sit there at the poker table following advice found on the internet; making sure to play only the hands that are within the range that they are using. Only to become bored and eventually try playing a hand that was not in the range.

In poker, there is more than one concept that matters while playing in a hand. Your range does matter, but only when used correctly. When deciding how to play a range you also need to factor in things like position, bet sizing, and strategy being used in the game. You don’t just get to memorize a range and then magically win because someone from the internet told you that playing ten percent of the deck is optimal. What ten percent are they even talking about? Take some time to understand what it is that you are using. The selected combos in your range mean nothing if you do not understand the strategy. King-Queen-Three, Jack-Jack-Seven, and Eight-Five-Three are not all the same. You are not obligated to bet on all three flops just because you were the preflop raiser. Your opponent is not going to automatically put you on an over pair or top two just because you were the aggressor. Think before you act!

Most of the time you can make a bet and your opponent may fold. Guess what? Your range did not matter.  Your opponent just didn’t have something that they felt had enough value to call your bet with. No, this does not mean that their range matters. Just because they folded to one bet does not mean that you are a card shark. It just means that you put more money in the middle and hoped for the best. Unfortunately, that is not a good strategy. If you do follow a strategy, then your range will start to become important. What matters is how your range interacts with the strategy you are playing. Your road to success is a multiple step plan.

Taking the time to think about what your opponent is doing is a very important part of the game. Why are they calling you? Will they call with more than premium pocket pairs? If the board is Nine-Seven-Four, what cards are they playing that connect with that board? Do you see why I say your range does not matter? Because it is only one piece of the puzzle. If your opponent calls you, it might be possible that they have some sort of combination that paired with one of those cards. Suddenly, your Ace-King, Ace Queen, or Ace-Jack do not look as good as they did preflop. What do you think that says about your range? Your opponent is finding a reason to call your bet, but why did you bet in the first place?

Ranges are not rigid or clearly defined. It’s why we see crazy hands during streamed games. Ranges are a heuristic of poker. You have an idea of what your range might look like, but you will adjust depending on a few other factors in the game. At some point you must realize that just because you always raise with a pocket pair doesn’t mean that everyone else does too. Other players can do what they want and sometimes they want to try and be tricky with the hands that they play. Pay attention to what the board is telling you. Look for indications to let you know if something makes sense about the way they are playing a hand. While you are thinking about that, you can also ask yourself if your actions make sense. When you start to think about the logic and how a hand is played or why an action is taken; Your range will start to matter.

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