Poker strategy is like building a house. If you start with dodgy foundations, pretty soon the whole thing is going to fall apart and cost you a ton of money. That’s why so many poker professionals, books, and videos all tell you to start working on your preflop game first, and then build your strategy from there.
However, you’ll be surprised how many people dismiss preflop opening ranges as “boring” or “too simple,” yet still manage to make basic mistakes. Players who think studying preflop ranges is below them will often be making significant errors that will cost them later in the hand. To help make sure you’re not one of these players, we’re here to give you a helpful guide to creating your preflop opening ranges.
Preflop opening ranges are the range of hands you open when the action folds to you in the preflop betting round. Let’s say you’re on the button and everyone else who acted before you has folded. What are the hands you’d open? Well, you’d open hands like AA, KK, QQ, etc., obviously Ax hands such as AK, AQ, etc., other broadways hands like KQ and JQ, suited connectors like 98s, 76s, and 54s - plus a whole bunch of other stuff!
All of these hands that you’d raise on the button can be grouped into what’s called your opening range. You should have a unique preflop opening range for every position on the table, aside from the big blind. This is because different positions require you to play tighter or looser, depending on how many people are left to act and what your likely postflop position will be.
If you don’t have an idea of your opening ranges for each position, you’re likely making significant mistakes.
As we mentioned in the introduction, your preflop opening ranges are the building blocks upon which you build your strategy. If you have bad opening ranges, you’re forced to carry those ranges into postflop play, making it significantly more difficult to make good decisions.
For example, if you raise 50% of hands from UTG, you’re going to have a hard time playing a strong, balanced strategy postflop, as you’ve got too many hands in your range! Similarly, if you only raise 5% of hands from UTG, you’re also going to find it hard to play a balanced strategy, as you’ll hardly have any hands to bluff with.
However, preflop opening ranges aren’t just about setting you up for postflop play, they can also be a way to increase your preflop win rate. Many players overlook the value of winning the blinds as they seem insignificant, but regularly winning the blinds is a big part of having a positive win rate. If you’re not aggressive enough and don’t steal the blinds often enough, you’ll find that those same blinds will grind down your chip stack and your win rate.
In our preflop opening ranges series, we’ll look at how to construct opening ranges for every position on the poker table. We’ll start by giving you a baseline range for each position, then teach you how to make adjustments based on your particular playing style and the opponents around you.
By the end of this series, you’ll have a strong understanding of why we construct different preflop opening ranges for different positions, how you choose the hands that go in those ranges, and how you should be adjusting these ranges as the game unfolds. So, if you’re looking to improve your preflop game and put yourself in the best position to play a strong postflop strategy, make sure you catch each new article as it’s released.
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