Senin, 13 Oktober 2014

Putting your opponents on ranges

I’ve often stated in my videos that there are two main levels of poker skill. Level one is putting opponents accurately on ranges while level two is “acting accordingly.” The former relies heavily on hand-reading, game dynamics, psychology and HUD-stats while the latter can often be solved mathematically to a great accuracy. Example: In a nine-man SNG, you open 88 from the CO 15 BB deep and BB three-bet shoves. The villain is an average regular so you give him a standard range of ATo+, KQ, 66+ and hit the fold button. In most stack-dynamics this is the correct thing to do due to ICM. However, to your disappointment the villain flashes 22 before collecting the pot.
This is a level one mistake. You acted correctly but your read on the villain’s range was wrong. Nothing to be ashamed of here — make a note of the villain of having an expanded three-betting tendency and move on. If, however, you read the villain’s range as 22+, A8o+, KJo+ and still fold 88 you have a level two mistake  — your action doesn’t support your read.

Most players are stronger on one level than the other. It’s fairly obvious that in order to become a successful poker player, you’ll need to have a sound understanding of both. It’s somewhat easy to study and practice level two due to the abundance of different equity calculators on the market. All you really have to do is crunch a massive number of … well … numbers and you’ll improve your understanding of correct calling, stealing, shoving and bluffing ranges.
How to master level one then? For most people, it’s much more difficult. Poker is a game of incomplete information and somehow you’ll need to use whatever you have to spit out hand-ranges for different situations. Being the local stat-geek, I’ll explain a little trick you can do using your HUD (Heads-up Display) to get you started.
Let’s assume you’ve been using a HUD for quite some time and are fairly comfortable using it. You’ve got a bunch of stats on it and you might even have color-coded them for easier reading. Let me ask you a question: Have you ever thought what your own stats look like in the eyes of your opponents? No? Maybe you should. See, you can’t ever know an opponent’s game that well, but you surely know your own! If you know what kind of stats your own game produces, you can have a much better idea of an opponent’s tendencies as well. This can fairly easily be done on any of the major trackers on the market.
In the example above, you could go through the following thought-process: “OK, the villain has a three-bet percentage of 9 percent. My own is 6 percent and I would three-bet shove ATo+,  KQ, 66+ in his shoes. Thus, I can assume that his three-betting range here is wider than my own and I can make a close call with my 88.”
Keep in mind that the HUD never gives you ranges. It only ever gives you tendencies. And even the tendencies vary from one situation to another. There can also be vast differences on how a villain behaves vs. you compared to how he behaves vs. the general population. However, being aware of your own ranges in a given situation can improve your level one reading skills immensely if you compare the stats in a smart fashion.
Studying your own game can yield other benefits as well. I’ve plugged quite a few leaks of my own by carefully looking at my own frequencies and statistics. Doing database studies on your own game can be risky though. It’s easy to interpret a profitable tendency as a leak if a number is off the charts.