What is their hand range

Let us start off by looking at a hand example. You are sitting on the button with the Jh-10h and you have a stack of 112bb in online no limit Texas hold’em poker. It has been folded around to the cut-off who raises to 3.5bb and they too have a stack of 100bb……what is your play here and do you fold, call or re-raise? Well if your poker strategy is to re-raise then you have to remember that not only are you three betting a raiser but your hand isn’t all that strong either.

So you need to try and assess what sort of range your opponent is raising with to then estimate what your correct response should be. Let us look at an extreme example that shows the correct deviations at work. Imagine that your opponent raises with 100% of their range and now we have to assess how a hand like J-10s fares against a range like that. So now we introduce PokerStove into the equation which is a wonderful piece of software that is free to download online.

PokerStove shows us that we have 57.5% equity against a random hand and when you figure that we also have position on our opponent then we clearly cannot fold. This means that we can either call and use our positional advantage post flop or three bet our opponent and look to win the pot immediately. Both lines are viable online poker strategy. However there are two problems here and the first is that we cannot be certain that our opponent has a 100% range and secondly that very few opponents will range that widely.

So doing a little research will reveal to you what the average range is from certain seats but only close analysis of each opponent can really help you here. So let us try and construct our opponents range from downloaded data using say PokerTracker. After 5000 hands on our opponent in no limit Texas hold’em then you see that they open raise with 38% of their total range. Once again using PokerStove then we can see what a 38% range represents. So we then input our J-10s hand to see that we have around 45% equity against that range.

Now it isn’t possible to make these sorts of online poker calculations at the actual table. But using simulations and data like these give you a feel for certain situations that arise. Because 45% equity is much less the previous total of 57.5% equity that we saw against a 100% range then three betting becomes less attractive.

So calling the raise may be the best option here but what actually underpins everything is that you took the time to understand your opponents range and what that actually meant in terms of your own online poker strategy. Imagine also that your opponent was a rock and after 5000 hands you knew that their opening range was only 3% from early position.

This is roughly AA-JJ and AK and so now we know that a J-10s only has around 28% equity against that tight range. So we have a clear fold and calling can really only be justified if we know that our opponent is capable of making absolutely horrendous post flop mistakes.


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