What Do Ranges Want?

My latest poker strategy article, What Do Ranges Want?, is now appearing in the Two Plus Two Magazine. And it’s inspired by some of your What’s Your Play? comments:

Some of my blog comments highlight this point starkly. When the Hero in the hypothetical hand example holds a strong hand and is trying to get value from something marginal, some commenters will argue for a small bet, on the grounds that marginal hands need to be offered good odds in order to call. Others will argue for a large bet, on the grounds that it will look like a bluff.

In a real life situation, you might actually have sufficient evidence to make a good guess about how your opponent will interpret or respond to a specific bet size, and in that case, you certainly should play accordingly. My hypotheticals don’t always offer that kind of evidence, though, which makes clear that many people are just blindly guessing about how their opponents will respond. Even in real life situations, blindly guessing is not the most profitable strategy.

Your AK wants a call, your bluffs want a fold, but what does your range want?

I also realized that I never told you about my last article, which is now a month old. It’s called Making Money With A GTO Strategy, and it, too, is a response to some common objections to a game theoretical approach:

What’s Your Play? Suited Gapper In Position, Deep

Sorry but there’s no new podcast this week. The show will return next Monday, April 6, with Matt Savage as the guest. In the meantime, here’s a What’s Your Play? to occupy your mind:

The game is $5/$10 with $2500 effective stacks. Hero is widely perceived as tough but a bit too stubborn/bluffy.

HJ is a straight-forward, experienced recreational type. He’s TAG-ish with his pre-flop hand selection, continuation bets too much, and rarely barrels the turn with either a made hand or a bluff. Unless he has a huge hand, he usually c-bets the flop, check-calls or check-folds the turn depending on whether he has anything, and then check-decides on the river . If the turn checks through, he’s capable of both bluffing and value betting rivers.

The blinds are also recreational players, though more loose and passive than HJ. Their standards for calling pre-flop and on the flop are pretty low, but they tighten up a bit as the bets get bigger.

HJ opens for $40. Hero is on the Button with 7d 4d. What’s your play and why? Posts your suggestions in the comments section below. I’ll do my best to respond throughout the week, and I’ll post my own thoughts along with results on Friday.

Episode 119: Jimmy Fricke

Jimmy Fricke, once known as “Gobboboy”, was one of the early stars of the internet poker book. After a short stint traveling the live circuit, he chose to settle in Las Vegas, while most of his friends and peers continued traveling to compete. In this interview, he reflects on that decision, how it’s affected his life for better and for worse, and how he pursues his passions in the face of depression. Jimmy also sticks around to talk Omaha Eight-or-Better strategy!

You can follow Jimmy on Twitter @jvfricke. For the best dining in Las Vegas, be sure to check out his blog JimmyEatsVegas.


0:30 – hello and welcome
42:24 – food segment (happened to mark this time stamp, so feel free to include it if you wish)
57:24 – strategy segment


The O/8 hand is the one from this thread – we reference some of the discussion in the thread as well.

Mini-Review: Applications of No-Limit Hold ‘Em

I recently finished reading Matthew Janda’s Applications of No-Limit Hold ‘Em and considered it one of the most helpful poker books I’ve read in some time. On a scale of 1 – 10, I give it a 9.5.

Applications is a Two Plus Two book par excellence. It’s dense, it’s thorough, it’s mathematically rigorous, and the only thing keeping it from a perfect score is that the writing and editing are sloppy at best and downright confusing at worst. There are dozens of typos, some as significant as a missing “not” which of course completely changes the meaning of the sentence. The subject matter is complicated, and the prose doesn’t do as much as it could to elucidate it. If anything, it serves to make the material seem even more overwhelming, and I can imagine many bookstore browsers getting intimidated.

If you can get past all that, though, you’ll find the most thorough and practical guide there is to playing unexploitable no-limit hold ‘em. There are no toy games here; Janda gets right down to business applying game theory concepts to real no-limit hold ‘em situations.

Mailbag: Restealing Pocket Pairs

Q: My question is about a hand from a sunday 109rb tournament. I am already in the money and find 44 on my big Blind (with a 24bb stack). Villain opens in middle position for 2.28 bb with a 38bb stack (I only have 30 hands of the player (vpip17/pfr13)) and I decided to push on him as I think that he might be opening relatively wide with his stack (any two broadway cards, any pair and some suited connectors/one gappers) and I consider to have a good fold equity. In regard in this particular hand I probably should have just called from the Big Blind as I am getting the right odds to set mine and let the hand go if I do not hit my set?

But my question is more generally as I seem to have problems with these little pairs when my stack is between 20-25bb. When I am between 15-19bb I like to put these hands into my 3bet allin range of hands. But with 20-25bb that might be to much and I might be to far behind against the range of hands with which my opponent calls me? Could you give me any advice on this problem?

Episode 118: Shaniac

Shane “Shaniac” Schleger is kind enough to grace us with his presence despite Andrew’s losing our last conversation. In this interview, we talk about depression, addiction, suicide, music, and, yes, poker. Even if heavy conversation isn’t your thing, be sure to tune in for two strategy segments, including one about limit hold ‘em!

We don’t have a P Funk playlist from Shane yet, but we’ll update this post when we get it.


0:30 hello & welcome
7:20 – limit HE strategy
18:27 – Slowplaying Aces
31:05 – Interview: Shane Schleger

Poker Stars, $0.91 Buy-in (75/150 blinds) No Limit Hold’em Tournament, 7 Players
Poker Tools Powered By Holdem Manager – The Ultimate Poker Software Suite.

CO: 4,083 (27.2 bb)
BTN: 1,375 (9.2 bb)
Hero (SB): 3,290 (21.9 bb)
BB: 5,019 (33.5 bb)
MP1: 2,225 (14.8 bb)
MP2: 2,441 (16.3 bb)
MP3: 3,657 (24.4 bb)

Preflop: Hero is SB with Ad Ac
3 folds, CO raises to 375, BTN folds, Hero raises to 1,000, BB folds, CO calls 625

Flop: (2,150) 4h 3s 3h (2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets 1,075, Hero calls 1,075

Turn: (4,300) Qs (2 players)
Hero checks, CO checks

River: (4,300) Ah (2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets 2,008 and is all-in, Hero calls 1,215 and is all-in

What’s Your Play? Top Pair Facing River Bomb Results

Thanks to everyone who commented on this week’s What’s Your Play? Here’s a sample:

Ruud says, “Generally I find Villain has the goods when he bombs the river like this.”

Pepito agrees, “unless he contemptuously views you as a bad, nitty player, what adept villain expects Kx to fold given that particular run out and action? river looks like soul-owning thin value from AK and/or KQ, or fat value from 2P, straights, and flushes.”

Mike argues exactly the opposite: “if he’s a good player, he will know he can try to rep something strong considering both a flush draw and straight draw got there.”

I think this is as telling a demonstration as you’re going to get of the value of guessing at the meaning of Villain’s bet. A “good player” shouldn’t be so easy to pigeonhole as definitely bluffing or definitely value betting, just as he shouldn’t feel confident about whether or not I’m going to call a river bet, so let’s dig a little deeper.

The Knowns (or Strongly Suspecteds)

Episode 117: Danielle “dmoongirl” Andersen

On April 10, 2001, Danielle “dmoongirl” Andersen was a professional poker player living happily in a small town in Minnesota with her husband and young son. The film Bet Raise Fold (which also featured former podcast guest Tony Dunst) shows how Black Friday turned her life upside down. Nearly four years later, Danielle is settled in Las Vegas, once again living with her family and earning a living as a poker player. In this conversation, she reflects on the last four years of her career, her relationship with Ultimate Poker, and her new life in Las Vegas.


0:30 hello
6:07 strategy
41:11 Danielle Andersen


I have AsKc in SB
Me: $170 in SB
OMR: $500 in MP
Reg: $700 in CO

OMR opens to $15
Reg calls.
I 3B to $45.
Both players call.

Pot $132 (after rake) Flop 2c 4s 8d
I bet $50, OMR folds, Reg calls.

Pot $232. Turn: 2c 4s 8d 3c.

I check, Reg shoves $75

Podcast Feeds
  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Thinking Poker Podcast Feed
Join Us