We have all seen when a poker player correctly calls out his or her opponent’s exact hand. It is a great thing to see but trying to do it is another thing entirely. Basically, it is a recipe for throwing chips down the drain at an alarming rate! You will rarely be 100% correct. And instead should play against a range of hands your opponent could hold.
Those studying strategy should know that poker is a game played with incomplete information. In so far as you cannot know what cards your opponents are holding. So you must put together all the information you have, to figure out what the other players have. Take into account the playing style of your opponents and their position at the table in relation to the dealer button.
Also, consider the stack sizes of the players involved and how your opponents bet or do not bet.
A useful tool for online poker is a heads-up display, or HUD as they are more often called. It displays information in the hand history files and displays it in real time, next to each of your opponents. With a HUD you will instantly know who is loose, who is tight, who plays aggressively and who is passive.
The software can do a lot of the legwork figuring out the various poker hand ranges. Though you do need to be able to understand the statistics you are presented with and apply them to each opponent.
For example, your opponent may be playing a tight 15/10 style. This means he plays 15% of the hands dealt to him and raises 10% of the hands dealt to him. Ten percent of hands is a range that looks a lot like a high pair or a hand with at least one Ace, King, Queen or Jack. So every time your opponent enters the pot for a raise he will most likely have one of these hands.
However, if he continues his aggression on a board reading Kd-9c-2s-7h you can narrow down his poker hand ranges some more as there are hands he simply wouldn’t continue with.
Using the above as an example, why you should play against a range of hands and not a specific hand? Imagine you call a preflop raise from the 15/10 player holding a pair of tens. He leads out on the flop and you instantly think he either has made a pair of kings, has a set of kings, set of nines or a pair of aces then you should immediately fold as you have less than 10% equity.
However, he is also going to almost always take one last stab at the pot as a continuation bet. If he is only doing that, you actually have 42.2% equity in the hand so can call the majority of bets on the flop.
You can then re-evaluate on the turn depending on the next round of action.
Think in terms of a possible range of hands rather than just those hands that can beat you. It will allow you to see a turn and possibly take the pot down if your opponent does not bet again.
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