Lately there has been a lot of talk about range advantage. Players discussing who has range advantage on a specific flop, who has range advantage on a specific turn card, etc. Many players have an inherent idea what this means, but I want to make sure that everyone has a clear understanding of this term.
Range Advantage: Describes which player’s range is currently ahead
Let’s look at a common example. A player open-raised preflop with 22+/AJ+/KQ and another called from the blinds with 22-TT/AJ/AT/KQ/KJ/54s+ (these ranges aren’t perfect, but we’ll use them for the time being). It should go without saying that the open-raiser has range advantage. The open-raising range is stronger than the caller’s since the opener can have monsters like JJ+ and the caller cannot…and if we run the equities of the ranges, we see the opener’s range has 59% equity.
We go to a flop of
T♥ 8♥ 5♠
If we run the ranges again, we notice the opener’s range still has an advantage, but this time only 53%-47%. Say the opener decides to only CB some of their range; 99+, sets, ace-high, and draws. Action goes check/bet/call. The turn is the
It should go without saying that this card helps the opener’s range far more than it helps the caller’s range. For one, if the opener were CBing with AK, it just improved. Given the range the caller called with preflop, the King on the turn doesn’t give them any two pairs, any top pair with a dominant kicker when they both have top pair, or anything like that. And it bricks all of the caller’s single pair hands like 87 and 65 which are now hating life. So because this card is so much better for the opener’s range (giving them almost 58% equity) than it is for caller’s range, the opener should bet it comfortably and apply pressure to a range which really can’t stand up to much aggression…
But what if instead the turn were the
This card is the exact opposite of the K♠. This card doesn’t benefit the opener (shy of giving 99 and AJ some extra outs). But this card does benefit the caller. It gives the caller two pair combos, gives their flopped pairs more equity (things like 65 and 98 just picked up heaps of equity), etc. In fact, if the caller gave the flop CB action with a reasonable range, they could have as large as a 59%-41% range advantage on the turn!
With that out of the way, these are the 4 main things to keep in mind when considering range advantage:
Hand reading is everything
If you can’t hand read well, it’s going to be very difficult to figure out whose range is ahead when various cards fall. If you know your hand reading skills need work, grab a PRO Membership and check out my video all about Range Reading Live TAGs to get some helpful pointers.
Range advantage is always present…but not all players care
While this concept is always in play, not all of your opponents care. You may barrel a bluff because an Ace hit the turn and gives you range advantage…but a weak player wouldn’t understand that. And some players may see you bet that Ace and think “well, he may have hit that Ace”…but they still have zero interest in folding bottom pair now or later.
The concept of range advantage is vital when playing against thinking opponents, but isn’t always the most important consideration when playing against weaker players.
When you have range advantage, apply pressure
When a flop or card gives you the advantage, it’s usually time to get aggressive. Start betting, start raising, and start making your opponent’s life a living hell. Of course, this requires the right opponent and solid hand reading skills…but be on the lookout for places where you have reasonable range advantage and then amp up the aggression.
When you have range disadvantage, be cautious
When a bad flop or card comes, one that improves your opponent more than you…it’s time to be cautious. Especially if your opponent is aggressive, you don’t want to keep leading into their advantage and letting them punish you with raises.
So there you go. You’ve just graduated from the Range Advantage 101 course! Now you know what this term means, how to visualize it, and how to put it to use on the table. The more you analyze hands away from the table and use tools like Flopzilla and Holdem EQ, the more ingrained this becomes and the easier you’ll be able to assign advantage correctly.
If you have any questions or want to discuss this topic further, just drop a comment below!
Isnt it unnecessery to say some sort of “these ranges are not perfect” since it is-will be truth almost 100 percent of the time? Nobody has figured perfect GTO ranges yet. So it make sense 🙂 Or am I mistaken and the saying “these range are not perfect” has other meaning? Thanks 🙂 Good article btw, as always!
Correct, the assigned ranges always have a margin of error. I use qualifiers like “these ranges aren’t perfect” so that readers don’t get hung up on “well I don’t agree with those ranges!” and end up missing the thesis.
Execellent article and great video. Must have material. Thanks James
Thanks Tom =)
James, by default, I generally fire a second turn bullet against a single opponent as a bluff or for value when I believe that I am currently ahead, I pick up a draw, I flopped a draw, I hit top pair or a Q,K or A falls that is an over card to the board. This barreling strategy is applied when I believe that it will cause my opponent to fold better hands and call with worse and when the turn card is not likely to have improved my opponent’s hand range. Any thoughts or suggestions about this strategy?
That’s a good overall game plan, for sure
I like this article. I was playing one day and made a strong raise pre flop with AA. A reg in this game had just raked a big pot and called. The flop was 2s,5c,7d. I made a big bet and he shoved. I snapped thinking he is trying to push me around. He turns over 2h,5s. He was playing for stacks.
This article helps me understand certain players. Some are not ever calling a big pre flop raise with that hand. I need to watch and put ranges on them. I was playing with my hand face up. He knew I had a big pair, so two pair had a shot.
I like what you said about this is not every player, just the thinking ones.
Thanks William! And yeah…thinking players are WAY different than non-thinking players =)
Thinking in terms of range advantage/disadvantage enables me to get away from hands that I want to continue with, but know I probably shouldn’t. This helps take the emotion out of poker and allows us to make logical decisions.
Great job for getting exactly what you were supposed to from the article Nick!