• Essential Hand Range Balancing for Poker Players

    Added - Feb. 24, 2014 Poker

    The game of poker, no matter which particular style of poker you're playing, centers around creating strategies that fall between two extremes. On one extreme is the need to exploit your opponents as much as you can so that you can extract as much money from them as possible. On the other extreme is the need to play in ways that make it hard for your opponent to know exactly what you're doing so they can't adjust against you an exploit you in return. These two objectives are conflicting because exploiting your opponent is seen as an attacking gesture while protecting your own play is seen as a defensive gesture. Balancing these two ends of the spectrum is essential if you want to become zat poker.

    Due to the nature of poker, when you're pushing to exploit your opponent by adopting an aggressive set of hand ranges, you're making yourself exposed to counter adjustments that will just exploit you in turn. If you're up against an opponent who isn't paying much attention or who you don't believe can figure out what you're doing, then it's fine to exploit them to a large degree. However, if you end up with someone picking up on your overly exploitative strategy, then they can pick you apart before you've figured out what's happened.

    The opposite side of this is playing too defensively all of the time. It's fine to play defensively as a default, but that's only the case if you are able to turn on the exploitative aggression when need be. For example, if someone is folding entirely too much to 3-bets before the flop in a big-bet game, then you need to adjust from your defensive ranges to 3-betting them more often and with a weaker range. This is the correct exploitative adjustment, and you're throwing money away if you don't do it out of fear.

    Ideally, you'll play somewhere between these two extremes as a default. When you're against a player who might be better than you or who really knows what's going on, then you should fall back a little and play more defensively. The times that you're up against a weak player or a player who plays a specific spot in a weak way, then you should go after them by ramping up the aggression and adjusting your hand ranges so that you're being more exploitative than usual.