Why Poker Hand Range is so Important?

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poker hand range
After learning up the basics of poker, it is time to move on to more complex concepts. Today, we will discuss hand ranges and how to determine them.

What is a hand range?

Players who are strong and commendable have a tendency to play a few specific cards/hands before the flop, which is referred to as hand range. A player might not be conscious about his range, but all players, whether they realize it or not, have a hand range. Some players choose to go by their instincts/intuition while selecting their playing cards; others prefer to follow charts on starting hands.

Put in simple words, either your opponent or you could be holding a set of possible hands before the flop to initiate a specific action. This is called hand range, and it includes all possible hands that can be held by someone. Here’s an example:

If you type out a hand range, it may look like the following. R = {JTs, KQo, KTs +, ATo +, A2s +, 22 +}. Now for their respective meanings. JTs refers to JT suited. KQo means KQ off suit. KTs + refers to suited KQ, KJ, KT. Off suit aces from AT to AK are represented by ATo +. A2s represents suited aces from A2 to AK. 22 + means pocket pairs from 22 to AA.

Hand ranges are usually defined according to a number of other factors in addition to the type of cards one might hold. For example:

  • The tilt factor of a player
  • The earlier bets of a player in a particular hand
  • The HUD stats of a player (aggression, VPIP etc etc)
  • The position of a player
  • How the player behaved or dealt with his cards in a past hand that is identical to the hand taking place at this moment

Therefore, if you can analyze properly and carefully on the basis of the factors mentioned above, it is possible to accurately guess an opponent’s hand range 99% of the times. However, you need to remember that even if one parameter’s value is altered, the whole range will change significantly.

Why are hand ranges so important?

The answer is simple: while judging your opponent’s move, is it better to grapple around in the dark or should you opt for a more logical structured method? Hand ranges will allow you to logically structure your thinking patterns about how to put an opponent on a hand. And because of hand range, it is also possible to determine the probability of an opponent holding various kinds of hands in one single range.

This allows you to speculate fairly accurately upon what you should expect from your opponent.

When you take hand range into account, you also learn how to detect particular playing patterns in your opponents. Observing this is enough to provide sound fodder for your thoughts and also help you identify the hand preferences of your opponents in general. In other words, when you have this kind of information under your belt, you automatically become more skilful. Your judgment is accelerated, your hand reading ability improves drastically, and you are easily be able to identify all the situations that recur constantly at some tables.

Simply put, thinking in terms of hand ranges offers a multitude of benefits.

All the best poker players in the world are aware of this concept and make use of it when choosing their moves.

How to figure out an opponent’s range?

The problem with beginners is that only when they are in the middle of a hand, do they truly become concerned about their opponent’s range. When they can’t figure it out or when they realize they’re at a disadvantage, they fold; and immediately afterwards, their mind gets distracted away from the game until the next hand is dealt.

The ambitious players looking to improve their game, however, try to figure out an opponent’s range in order to benefit from it in the next hand. In fact, when you’re out of the hand, that’s probably the best time to do this because you’re not encumbered by thoughts of thinking about the pot size, your bankroll, or keeping your tells hidden.

In online poker, it’s not hard to find out someone’s history and figure out the kind of player they are. Based on that information and from what you have gleaned by watching their betting styles, you can guess which cards they would most likely play.

Let me give you an example: suppose a very tight opponent chooses to bet five times the big blind before the flop. Then he makes a very ugly flop of 4d 7h 2s and makes a pot sized continuation bet on this. It will take only experience to figure out that this player is holding AK at the worst or a big pocket pair before the flop.


It is extremely essential in Texas Hold’em to be able to read hands and hand ranges accurately. And while there are tools along with plenty of websites on the Internet offering free use of their poker odds or range calculators which can help you, the ultimate goal is to be able to grasp these things intuitively. Do that, and you’ll have far more success than any amount of bluffing will ever bring you.

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