We’ve come to the end of our preflop opening ranges series, so what better time to look back on what we’ve learned and reflect on the most important lessons we took from our deep dive into the hands you play preflop. We’ll take a look at the biggest takeaways from the series, so keep reading for a distilled version of our preflop opening ranges series.
One trend that we saw throughout our study of preflop ranges is that they grow as you move around the table. You start by playing your tightest range from under the gun, and as you approach the button, your range grows in size, as you take advantage of your position at the table.
The best way to ensure that you’re playing a suitable number of hands from each position is to start with your under the gun opening range and grow it as you move around the table. When determining your opening ranges for other positions at the table, you should never be taking away hands, only adding to the range that you opened in the previous position.
Doing this not only ensures that you’re raising enough hands, but also makes remembering your ranges much easier. If you can memorise your under the gun range, you’ll find it easy to remember which hands you should be raising from other positions. For example, when remembering which hands you should be raising from UTG+1, you know that you will be raising 100% of the hands you raised from UTG, plus a couple of hands in the fringes of that range.
When deciding which hands to open from each position, it’s important to remember two things; the number of players left to act, and your expected postflop position. Understanding both of these factors allows you to evaluate the strength of your position, and makes it easier to understand why you should play tight or loose.
For example, when you play a hand from under the gun, you have eight other players left to act after you, which means that the chance of someone having a strong hand is extremely high. Plus, you’re also likely to be out of position if someone calls your raise, putting you at a disadvantage postflop. For those reasons, we play our tightest opening range when under the gun, as this helps negate those disadvantages.
Contrast this with the button; you only have two players left to act after you, which means that it’s unlikely you’ll run into a strong hand, and you’re guaranteed to be in position postflop. These advantages mean that we can raise an extremely wide range of hands from the button. In fact, we play our widest opening range when we play on the button.
By understanding these factors, the construction of your preflop ranges should become much easier, as it becomes apparent how tight or loose you should play from each position.
While position and players are two of the most important factors to consider, especially when raising from early position, you need to be aware of new challenges that arise when you play in late position. Playing in late position allows us to raise a wider range of hands, due to the advantages of that position. However, when playing from late position, we need to remember to stay balanced when creating our ranges.
If we go too far when raising from late position, our range becomes unbalanced and becomes harder to defend against aggression from our opponents. For example, if we started raising 100% of hands from the button, our opponents could counter that by 3-betting more aggressively, or by playing a check/raise-heavy strategy after calling our raises.
This is a challenge that players rarely consider when constructing opening ranges, but it’s important to be mindful of how the whole hand will play out when you’re building your range. Preflop opening ranges are the building blocks of your poker strategy, so you need to make sure that you create a solid foundation upon which to play the rest of the hand.
When constructing our ranges, there are multiple instances where groups of hands perform relatively equally to one another, so it comes down to personal preference which group you decide to add to your range. Some sites will insist that you must add hands like 75s or 86s into your range rather than A9o, but in situations where two groups of hands are in the bottom of your range, you should add the hands that you feel most comfortable playing.
Even if there is a slight EV difference between the two, what matters most is being able to extract that EV while playing. If you feel more comfortable playing a certain type of hand, you’ll find that you’re better able to play that hand in-game, which will likely create more EV than playing a hand that you’re not confident in.
So, if you’re constructing your preflop opening ranges and can’t decide which group of hands to add, pick the ones you prefer playing - it’ll work out better in the long run.
One thing we consistently talked about was the need to make adjustments based on your table dynamics. Poker is a game that’s always changing, and if you want to make the most money possible in any given session, you need to understand how your opponents are playing and change your strategy to exploit that.
However, we recommend that you should only be making small adjustments to your opening ranges, particularly if you’re playing from early positon. This is because large adjustments to your opening ranges can be easily exploited by your opponents, and can end up losing you more money in the long run. For example, widening an opening range to take advantage of a tight table can increase your win rate, but go too far and you’ll end up losing more postflop than you gain by stealing the blinds.
When constructing your opening ranges, it’s important to consider a number of factors, including the number of players left to act, your postflop position, and how balanced your range will be postflop. However, by considering all of these factors and listening to the advice given in this series, you should have everything you need to go out there and create your own preflop ranges (and if you aren’t yet, there’s no harm in using the ranges we’ve provided until you’re confident enough).
So, take your new-found knowledge, get out there and start crushing your opponents with your superior preflop play!
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