Brad Lampman is a 6-year veteran of poker, primarily online mid-stakes with occasional travel to WPT events. He’s new to the Red Chip Poker PRO membership, and his debut video Building Complete Ranges (PRO members only). The video is perfect for folks who are just getting into studying range building with Flopzilla or other software tools. In it, Lampman shows you the basics of using range-building software to being to construct ranges for use in strategic analysis.
Why Build Ranges?
Range building is important, Lampman says, because it provides a strategic foundation from which to work from in all aspects of your game.
“The first thing to do is start off the table with building your ranges,” he says, saying that “you’re your best” off the table, because you have all the analysis tools at your disposal, and unlimited time to look at decisions from all angles.
By methodically working through your ranges away from the table, you can identify leaks and generally improve your game before it comes decision-making time at the table.
Range Construction Work
Lampman says you can start by working through your own open ranges, and then begin comparing it to various ranges you might assign opponents in certain spots. Then you can start simulating flops and comparing ranges to develop a feel for how certain ranges hit certain boards, and play against the other ranges that players tend to be holding.
Flopzilla is the tool Lampman uses for range building and visualization, and he uses Equilab to compare ranges.
GTO and Range Building
Game Theory Optimal poker, as calculated by many of the “solver” programs like Equilab, is crucial for moving up in stakes, says Lampann. At lower stakes, players are following a more exploitative strategy that preys on the weakness of their opponents. However, players make fewer and fewer mistakes as the blinds get bigger, and a GTO understanding of the game becomes necessary to play as a top-percentile winner.
GTO poker is about finding the most +EV situation, and Lampan says a lot of the strategic takeaways you’ll get as you study is that certain moves are GTO-sound, even if they run counter or contrary to common exploitative poker wisdom. It can be a bit of a culture shock to exploitative players, but it opens up new strategic options for advanced players.
Want more info on range visualizers and “solvers”? Our poker strategy software article has it.
Lampan also talks about how live cash games vs. online poker can be a much more exploitative vs. GTO parallel.
“The level of gameplay that has been reached” online, Lampman said, is the reason why it’s hard to beat online poker without a firm grasp on GTO.
“So many hands have been played by so many players, today the game has gotten a lot stronger online,” he said.
Study Plans & Thought Process
Lampman discusses how he studies — by picking a specific spot and looking at it from all angles. First, he’ll look at it in a strategic vacuum, ignoring stats or reads for a second. He’ll look up ranges in Flopzilla, and run it through a solver to get some guidance. Then he’ll factor in the player pool tendencies or specific player stats and see if that alters the GTO strategy he’s just been recommended.
He also discusses his thought process in a hand, and how many decisions become automatic based on pre-constructed open ranges. But there are plenty of opportunities for things to get more tricky, and in these cases, he’s looking at who’s behind and how often they’re going to react aggressively, or whether they’re particularly weak. He’ll also look ahead and make the same player type assessment.
Further Understand Ranges
Lampmann also discusses range chunking, range advantage and capped ranges.
“You’ll find that people are capped on the turn a lot, because they’ll be calling,” he said. “And you’ll realize, that’s a really scary, wet board and I would raise all my sets and all my straights and this person probably would too. He’s got a capped range. He’s not going to have the top of his range here any more.”
Knowing an opponent has a capped range often gives you carte blanche to barrel and play aggressively to apply maximum folding pressure.
Want more on hand reading and ranges? Listen to our Thinking in Ranges podcast.
Like many of our podcast guests, Lampan emphasizes the need to have a strong social support network of poker buddies to learn and improve.
“It’s nearly impossible to do by yourself. I can’t even begin to think of all the better players and friends that I’ve had over the years that helped me get better,” he said.
He also cites staking groups and coaching groups as fantastic communities to tap in to and see all boats rise in terms of win rate and poker prowess.
Because he plays in many anonymous games online, Lampman to some degree mitigates his need to consider metagame as a major strategic factor, and for that he is grateful.
At the same time, there is no avoiding metagame as a huge consideration at the upper levels of online, and the higher you go, the more it comes to play a big part in decision-making.
“Those $1K/$2K games where all the best players are playing… their metagame up there is just insane. Like nothing you can comprehend. They’ve played so many hands against each other because the player pools are so small. They’ve got lots of stats and history on each other. It definitely changes the way they play… they will deviate a lot from standard and GTO ranges because they’re trying to be so exploitatively different,” he said.
Looking forward, he sees GTO as becoming more and more of a factor in playing a sound strategy.
First-Person Shooters & Poker
Lampan talks briefly at the end about his life in competitive video gaming, and playing at the highest levels of competition in first-person shooters like Call of Duty. He talks about his competitive experiences playing games as foundational experiences for becoming a poker player. Ultimately, the money in poker was too good to resist.
His last world of advice is to get really good with the range-building software like Flopzilla and Equilab. Ask people how they use it, take advantage of your friends and connections and even the folks in our forum and get the tips you need to know how to use these tools. Getting started is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get comfortable with these range building tools, you’ll never look back from the edge you’ve built.