Building ranges and putting players on a correct range of hands is a complex skill – but one that is vital for finding every last nugget of value in your sessions. The good news is that hand reading is just a process, and one that you can practice between sessions! The rough news is that it can be frustrating and difficult, especially when trying to define ranges with minimal information.
To help you improve your range building process I created this mini-series where we dissect a hand together – going street-by-street and action-by-action to assign precise ranges. This is the actual process I use when studying poker off-table and exactly how my brain processes information in real-time…and you will get stronger with it the more you practice assigning ranges.
Live Poker $1/$2 – J♣ 9♣
5 folds, CO raises to $10, HERO calls $10 on the button, SB calls $9, BB folds
Flop (rounded to $30): J♦ J♥ 7♥
SB bets $20,
CO folds, HERO raises to $60, SB calls
Turn ($150): 3♠
SB bets $70, HERO calls
River ($290): K♣
SB bets $150, HERO ???
BUILDING THE PREFLOP RANGE
Let’s start by building the range the SB would call with after the CO opens to $10 (5bb) and we call on the button. Since the SB is a ‘never folds’ kind of player, we should start with a very wide range of hands and remove the hands that would 3bet instead. This may not look like the range you would flat with – but you likely aren’t the kind of player who gets described as ‘someone who can never fold‘!
THE FLOP: JJ7
BUILDING THE FLOP RANGE
On the flop the SB decides to donk bet for $20 and then call after we raise the flop to $60. We technically need to build two ranges here: first the range that would lead the flop and secondly the range that would continue calling our flop raise. As played, we expect villain to continue with pretty much all of his leading range, and actually donk/call 84% of the time (3betting the flop the other 16%).
THE TURN: JJ7-3
BUILDING THE TURN RANGE
When the turn is a brick 3 the SB decides to donk again, this time for close to half-pot. Building donking ranges can be tricky – but when you pause and think about it the average player is VERY unbalanced and donks in very predictable ways.
Question: Given the range they donked with, should we raise or call the turn?
THE RIVER: JJ7-3-K
BUILDING THE RIVER RANGE
The SB continues firing, this time on a King. Some players might panic and immediately put the SB on KJ, but this process allows us to clearly see which hands are vs are not in their range.
Question: Would you call or shove after the SB bets?
As you can see, range building can be tricky and cumbersome at first – but with practice you’ll be able to do this in mere seconds. If nothing else, there are three major takeaways here:
- Notice that villain went from 800+ combos preflop to ~20 on the river
- If villain is betting these ranges, does their checking range have any strength?
- Once you know their range it makes it MUCH easier to craft your own
If you are interested in doing more of this, pick up the Hand Reading For Live Players workbook. This book has exercises built to help you practice building your own ranges, your opponent’s ranges, and even range-vs-range situations. You already know you need to study, and this workbook has everything you need to study laid out in a beautiful and intuitive way.
Pick up your copy today and if you want even more videos of me breaking down hand after hand from this book, grab the Master Mind Combo and get 7+ hours of additional training content to get the absolute most value from the entire workbook.