Why You Should Think More About Poker Ranges And Not Your Actual Hand

Ranges First

Your poker range refers to all the hands you could potentially be holding, given your previous actions in the game.

I see many players talk about PLO strategy or analyzing a hand focusing too much on the hand that they have. They forget to think about how you should play with your entire range and how that range is interacting with the board.

Sometimes I see people making mistakes by only looking at their hand and thinking it is not strong enough to bet, but they forget to think about how strong their entire range is, and how tough it will be for your opponent to fight back.

In addition to this, they also forget to think about their opponents’ range and how their opponents’ ranges are interacting with the board.

Equity Graph

This graph basically represents how both ranges match up against each other. In other words, how much equity my range has versus my opponent’s range.

What we can see in the graph are two lines, one for each player’s range.

An equity graph.

Every single combination is represented as a dot in each player’s line, and it is placed vertically in the equity level that specific hand has against our opponent’s full range, and horizontally from strongest (left) to weakest (right) compared to our full range.

In general the larger the difference between both lines the bigger the difference is in terms of range strength.

An equity graph with a big gap.

For example, here we can see that there’s a big gap between both lines. In other words, our range has a lot more strong hands and a lot more equity with most of our hands compared to my opponent’s range.


It is not enough to think about overall equity and make your decision solely based on that. It’s also important to think about which hands are at the top of your range (polarity), and also how the ranges are interacting with each other in the top. 

When the distribution is against us we have to be much more cautious when betting.

Polarity refers to the distribution of a range where there is an edge within the best 10-30% hands. The percentage is not set in stone, the most important thing is the actual distribution.

Polarization advantage on an equity graph.

Polarity advantage means you have strong, polarized hands more often than your opponent. The hands at the top of your range are significantly stronger than the strongest hands in your opponent’s range.

To illustrate a little bit more about why it’s important to think about a range, here are two practical examples.

3 Ways to Improve Your Preflop Ranges

One of the questions I get asked the most is how to study and better understand your preflop game plan. Because there are so many hands possibly dealt in Pot-Limit Omaha it can be challenging to know where to start.

My answer typically involves the following tools and strategies, sorted here from simple to more complex.

1. Talk Poker Strategy

Surround yourself with other poker players, ask questions to people that have more experience than yourself, and see what these players would have done in the same situation.

It’s very common for people to become very isolated and not be in contact communities, but it is a great and easy experience. These days there are tons of forums, discord channels, or websites where you can talk about poker strategy.

In the PLO Mastermind, we have a helpful community you can join today, be it in the forums or our discord channel.

It’s great to have poker friends that you can talk poker strategy with. Ask them what they would have done in your place. Not only the action, but the reasoning behind it as well.

2. Replay Your Hands

A second way is by utilizing software that allows you to replay these hands and to look into how actually played there.

The most common tools are Holdem Manager and PokerTracker.

What these programs basically do is store the hands that you’re playing online and they allow you to replay these hands. They also collect all the data from yourself and your opponents and allow you to look into your own game plan much more in depth.

You can then filter for individual situations where you can look at your frequencies and this allows you to get a much broader overview of your overall game plan while at the same time being able to individually look into hand examples.

3. Subscribe to PLO Trainer

The ultimate way to get better at you preflop ranges is by utilizing software that will combine the benefits of the Preflop Helper and the Preflop Charts, and will allow you to look up either individual hands or categories.

The PLO Trainer is a software built by the PLO Mastermind, and it allows you to browse and quiz yourself both on preflop as well as postflop solutions based on GTO outcomes.

I am always curious about learning more about the game and really enjoy diving deep into the strategic parts of it. I work together with the PLO Mastermind as one of the coaches, and I am the person behind the PLO Mastermind quizzes.


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