Range Balancing

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What is Range Balancing?

Poker is getting tougher and tougher, and when you move up the stakes in 6-max cash games then you’ll need to incorporate more skills and moves into your arsenal.  Bluff-raising or 3betting light for example is pretty common for NL100 but not so much at NL25.  This article introduces the concept of “range balancing”, which is very important move for exploiting regulars at the table and defending your image.

Range Balancing involves mixing up how you play your hands in repeated situations.  For example, if I always check-raise 3 of a kind on a paired board then I’ll start check-raising different hands or either cbetting out of position with the same hand.  By playing your strong hands in different ways, or playing more hands in the same way, you are able to leave your opponents guessing and make it harder to them to narrow your hand range. 

Keeping a balanced range is extremely important in mid-high stakes games and the later stage of poker tournaments, where opponents will regularly use HUD stats and jot down reads on you, in order to narrow your equity in the pot.  If your opponent is good at reading you, then you won’t be able to exploit him by making enough value from overbetting monster hands or even bluffing weak hands.  For example, if you only bet the turn and river with a made hand then your range becomes isolated in this point.  Your opponent will know you have a strong hand and won’t bother calling your ¼ pot value bet on the river.  Your range also becomes isolated if you only 3bet 5% of hands, i.e. AQ+ and JJ+.

By balancing your range, you keep opponents on their toes and allow yourself to extract more money from pots.  Let’s say for instance, that you start 3betting light with drawing hands like 6-7 suited from MP pre-flop.  With a flop like 5-7-2, your opponent would assume you had AQ+ and missed the flop completely.  This creates more value in implied odds and calling equity.  By mixing your game up like this, you can also extract more value from premium hands such as KK because your opponent is unable to accurately pinpoint your relative holdings.

Range balancing can sound confusing at first, but it’s basically just about keeping yourself unpredictable against regulars.  An additional advantage of range balancing, is that it also allows you to play more hands which gives you a better chance of hitting a monster.  If you only stick to a TAG 12/8 in 6-max games, it’ll become unbelievably obvious that you have a strong holding.  What’s worse, you’ll get bluffed and double-barreled off a lot of pots on dry boards by smarter loose aggressive players.

In conclusion, range balancing can be a risky affair, as it does require you playing a weaker range of hands and making more moves pre-flop.  However by the time you get to NL100 or even NL50, it’ll become an important concept in open play and by neglecting this you are leaving a lot of chips on the table and making yourself more susceptible to steals.

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