Is poker a game of skill or a game of chance? There are arguments supporting both sides. Although the element of luck is undeniable in this card game (and in the majority of card games, once you think of it), the skill factor is still prevalent.
The more you play poker, the more you’ll understand that it’s mostly about the skill. However, it’s not only the skill of making the right move, but it’s also about being able to see the entire spectrum of moves and decide on the best one.
So how does one predict a spectrum of moves that they ought to make in poker? By trying to figure out what cards other players have in their hands. However, that’s not an easy task as well, and this leads us to the main topic of today’s poker strategy — ranges.
What Are Ranges Exactly?
Basically, a range represents the number of possible hands that a poker player may have at any time.
There is a limited number of possible hands that a player might have, right? As you progress through a hand, the number of hands that your opponents might have will decrease.
Before the pre-flop, there are various possibilities, so everything is taken into account. Players can have one of the 78 offsuit hands that differ a lot. Moreover, there are 78 suited hands and a total of 13 pairs.
Now, the first time you need to narrow down the possible range of combinations that your opponents have is when they make the first bet in the pre-flop betting round. By making a bet, they are already sending some kind of information that you may or may not take into account.
As the game progresses, you will have to make a choice and determine the possible range of hands your opponents have. The range should decrease once the flop cards are turned face-up, and additional bets are made.
If you persist until the final betting round, you should have a more concrete idea of your opponents’ possible hole cards. However, one thing is certain — if you’re 100 percent sure that he has two cards that you think about, then you’re either cheating or you rely on the “gut.” In fact, ranges are the exact opposite of what the “gut” represents in poker.
Ranges are what separates a professional poker player from a complete newbie. Newbies usually try to pin the exact card combination to their opponents, followed by “their gut.” However, this is simply a wrong approach, as following the gut in poker will lead you nowhere.
Instead of listening to the inner voice, you actually can improve your chances of guessing your opponents’ cards by listening to the inner reason. Now, understanding ranges is not easy, and it takes a while before you teach yourself how to see ranges.
However, once you get into the swing of things, you will be able to improve your game and your overall chances of winning.
The thing about ranges is that there are charts that can help you with making the necessary predictions. Once you understand how to use the chart, and with a little bit of math magic, you will be able to calculate the possible range of hands your opponents can have in their hand.
Naturally, this approach will not secure you a victory. Remember, there’s still an element of surprise that comes with the luck part in this game. Therefore, use ranges as a tool that can help you improve, but never consider it an ultimate weapon for winning the game.