The ability to identify and read poker ranges is one of the most important skills a player can have.
Poker is a game of incomplete information and we will almost never know exactly which two hole cards our opponent has. But with logical deduction and strong technical knowledge, we can build our opponent’s range and use that information to make even more profitable plays.
What Are Poker Ranges?
A range is a collection of all the possible hands a player can have right this moment. Ranges exist both preflop and postflop, and can vary widely since tight players will have fewer hands in their range and looser players will have many starting hands in their range.
You always begin by building your opponent’s range preflop and you continue to refine that range as they take action throughout the hand.
One of the bigger things I get when I coach students is the consideration of playing a LAG poker style. There are major differences between TAG and LAG players, but the common misconceptions and adjusts against a LAG style are what make it the most profitable style in today’s games.
What Is A LAG?
LAG is short for “Loose Aggressive” and is a playstyle that is more aggressive, and with more hands, than a TAG (Tight Aggressive). Even though players think that loose = bad, a good LAG focuses on finding spots where each extra hand added into their range is +EV given the mistakes their opponents will make.
Good vs. Bad LAGs
A LAG plays more hands, and more aggressively than just about every other player – and because of this, they must be solid on more levels. It is important to emphasize this…because a LAG style is NOT for everyone. If you do not have your fundamentals down, if you do not understand most spots you get into, if you cannot quickly deduce a +EV line – then LAG is not for you at the moment.
Preflop play should be fairly simple, but most players struggle preflop because they lack a plan. So to make your life easier, I put together my preflop checklist that you can begin using in your next session. This preflop checklist contains just 6 things that will keep you focused on the right information preflop and help you decide if you should fold, limp-behind, or attack with a big raise.
Most players build their preflop strategy solely around a hand chart they found online. Now don’t get me wrong-a poker hand range chartcan be helpful. But charts are limiting if you don’t know when (and how) to deviate from them. So instead of trying to remember 128 different ranges from each position – let’s focus on the big 6 things that impact your ranges, sizes, and edges preflop. And to make life easier, I’ve named this the PLANES Method since it’s easy to remember!
So let’s break down each letter in this checklist…
Today I want to talk to you about studying poker in 2020 and share my study routine with you. This is especially useful if you don’t already have one, but if you do have a study routine, you can take bits and pieces of this process and improve your own.
The thing that we have to keep in mind is that we’re not going to become the best poker player in the world overnight, or in a week, or even in a month. It’s going to take long periods of time. Even just becoming the best poker player you can be is going to take a long period of time, but we can break poker study into week-long sprints and we can say, “Okay, this week I’m going to try to fix this leak, the next week another, the next week another, etc.” When we do that and continue improving our game and decreasing our poker leaks, we’re going to become MUCH better players over time.
Live poker, and poker played in casinos and cardrooms, requires some strategic nuance to win more per hour. With some basic adjustments and a deeper understanding of the game flow, you’ll find both preflop and postflop much easier to play.
This guide is going to break down some easy adjustments you
can make to your game to capitalize on the uniqueness of live poker games. Learn
how to play in games where players hate folding preflop, playing with different
stack sizes, the mechanics of bluffing, beating slow players, and even how to
craft your own preflop ranges.
EV, short for expected value, is the most vital mathematical concept in poker. When we say that something is +EV it means the play is expected to be profitable in the longrun. Whereas a play that is -EV is expected to lose us money in the longrun.
The Poker EV Formula
The most simple poker expected value (EV) formula is this:
Poker contains a lot of repetitive math, especially when studying poker hands away from the table. While you can use software to do a lot of this math, sometimes a good ‘ol fashioned spreadsheet is the best way to visualize and play with the numbers. So to save you a tremendous amount of time, I put together this pack of my spreadsheets that you are free to use while exploring spots!
This is a name-your-own price download, so if money is super-tight, you can enter $0 and get it for free. But if you throw a few chips my way, not only would I massively appreciate it, but I’ll also give you a free PRO video AND over $200 in discounts. No pressure either way – I just wanted you to know your options 😃
SPR, short for stack-to-pot-ratio, is a powerful concept that can help you take better lines both preflop and postflop. If you can understand and apply SPR strategy in poker you will have a mathematical framework for commitment. Here is the SPR formula:
SPR = Effective Stack Size / Pot Size
We simply take the effective stack (the smallest of the stacks involved in a hand) and divide it by the pot size. So if we both have $200 and the pot is currently $10, we are in a 20 SPR pot.
Poker is a game of math. The math can range from simple things like figuring out the size of the pot to very complex things like calculating the EV of multi-street plays. But poker is also a social/psychological game where tells, psychology, and dynamics come into play (especially in live & casino poker). Players that approach the game solely through the social lens are just as much missing a crucial element as players that solely approach the game mathematically. Like most things, balance is required to be a well-rounded player who can thrive at any table.
While most math-based players understand the value in the social side of the game (albeit, usually not giving it the credence it deserves – myself included years ago), social-focused players tend to ignore much of math side of the game. This is normally due to the fear that the math will be too complex, too cumbersome, and maybe even too nerdy.
In recent years, podcasts have become a hit, and you can find plenty of them in any niche. Poker is no exception, and there are regular podcasts that provide valuable content. Whether it is about strategy, news or anything else, you can learn a lot and have fun at the same time. Many of them will also host special tournaments and promotions, which adds extra value to the whole experience.
So, if you’ve been looking for the best poker podcasts around, here is my top-8 list!