Strategic Approach to Poker Ranges in Texas Hold'em

A player's range of poker hands refers to the combination of possible hand cards that they could hold at any given moment. By considering your opponent's hand range, you can evaluate all possible hand outcomes. Poker ranges serve as a tool to assist you in making the best decisions. The strategy for ranges can be divided into two parts: firstly, you want to narrow down your opponent's hand cards to a specific combination, and secondly, you determine which cards to play and how to play them. We will guide you through the process of calculating and recording a poker range and explain how to approach analyzing your opponents.

What are poker ranges?

If you had knowledge of your opponents' hand cards, every poker decision would be quite simple. Occasionally, there arises a game situation where you can confidently make a statement about the opponent's hand. However, with a poker range in Texas Hold'em, you don't pinpoint the opponent to exactly two hand cards, but rather establish a range from the worst to the best possible hand.

A player's gaming and betting behavior provides insights into their range and answers questions like what cards they enter a pot with? When do they call, when do they fold? A poker range can indicate the possible starting hands and influence straightforward or intricate moves such as float, squeeze play, or blind steals. It sheds light on a player's strategy and tactics, helping to understand their decision-making process and predict their next moves at the poker table.

A visual representation can be created for a hand range, and it can be recorded as a sequence of cards. Let's imagine a situation where a player only enters a heads-up pot with the top half, which accounts for 50 percent of all possible starting hands. The poker range for this scenario can be noted as follows:

22 and higher suited, Ace and King suited, Queen and Jack suited, Ten and Seven suited, Nine and Eight suited, Ace and King offsuit, Queen and Five offsuit, Jack and Eight offsuit, Ten and Nine offsuit.

The range appears as a grid, with + representing upwards, s representing suited (i.e., of the same color), and o representing off-suit or unsuited (i.e., of different colors).

Die Hand Range

Calculate poker ranges

The formation of a hand range commences even before the flop. A player's two hole cards can assemble in the following ways:

  • One out of thirteen possible pairs.

  • One out of 78 possible single-colored hands.

  • One out of 78 potential multicolored hands.

The following combinations arise from this:

A player's hand range refers to the specific set of starting hands that they choose to enter into a heads-up pot with, encompassing only 50% of all possible hand combinations.

Hand cards Possible combination
Pair 6
Not a couple 16
No couple plain ( "suited") 4
No longer a mismatched pair (“unsuited”) 12

The fundamentals of poker dictate that there are fewer combinations for pairs. If your opponent's range includes 44 and 87, the probability of 87 is higher due to the greater number of possible combinations. Similarly, the probability of monochromatic cards with only four combinations is lower than that of multicolored cards with 12 combinations. This should be evident to any beginner, but it is helpful to illustrate it mathematically.

Once a player makes a bet, they are making a statement about their hand range, especially in relation to their position at the table and information about previously played hands. A poker tracker can show you that an opponent only plays around 15% of hands in the button position. What does this range look like? With a poker calculator like Equilab or Flopzilla, you can display the range.

Raster-Darstellung der Hand Range

Range example

Imagine you're dealt an ace of spades and a king of diamonds, and you decide to raise before the flop. Your opponent decides to call, which only happens about 15 percent of the time. You can now narrow down your opponent's hand range based on this information. How does your hand compare to your opponent's? An equity calculator reveals that your unsuited AK hand holds approximately 62 percent equity against your opponent's hand, which has around 38 percent equity. It's definitely worth staying in the pot.

Poker software for hand ranges

Managing ranges becomes significantly easier with poker tools. You can gain insights into an opponent's poker range in relation to their current position or the current street by using tracking software such as Poker Tracker or Hold'em Manager. Equilab and Flopzilla are useful tools for noting and displaying ranges. We have compiled a list of the top 10 poker tools for your convenience.

Ranges Calculator

Noting down poker ranges

Take a look at the following table to see what a hand range looks like in written form. Keep in mind the following guidelines: When it comes to a sequence of connected cards like 98, the notation "98+" implies that both cards go up to AK. In the case of a sequence of gapped pairs like 74+ or 52+, the notation indicates that only the lower-value card advances. Therefore, 96+ includes 96, 96, and 98, but not the pair 99.

This is the Raster Display of the Hand Range 66+ A5s+ K9s+ Q9s+ JTs ATo+ JKo+.

Category Example Quotation
All couples 22, 33, 44, ..., AA 22+
Sequence of pairs 44, 55, 66, 77 77-44
Sequence of monochromatic connections (referred to as "suited connectors") 65s, 76s, 87s, 98s, T9s, JTs, QJs, KQs, AKs can be expressed as the following set of suited starting hands in Texas Hold'em. 65s+
A sequence of monochrome hands ("suited hands") 74 s, hashs, hassles 74h+
All combinations with ace A2s to AKs, A2o to AKo AA+
All single-colored combinations with Ace ("suited Aces"). 2s, ..., AKs Cut+
All the multicolored combinations with a King (known as "offsuit Kings") K2 offsuit, K3 offsuit, ..., KQ offsuit, Ace-King offsuit Me, K2o+
Monochromatic gapped pairs, also known as "suited one-gappers" 86s, 97s, T8s, J9s, QTs, KJs, AQs AQs-86s
Top percentage of the strongest starting hands 5% 88+, AJs+, KQs, AKo

Analyzing the opponent's poker range.


Poker tracking software provides the ultimate way to determine your opponents' range of hands. The Heads-Up Display (HUD) from tools like Poker Tracker or Hold'em Manager assists you in this task by displaying valuable statistics. Two metrics, PFR and VPIP (or VP$IP), are particularly useful. VPIP represents "voluntarily paid into pot" or "voluntarily put $ in pot," indicating how frequently a player enters the pot. On the other hand, PFR stands for Preflop Raise, revealing the player's pre-flop raising frequency. The higher these values, the wider the range of hands they play. By utilizing a calculator, you can narrow down your opponent's range on a scale. Lower values signify a conservative playing style and a higher likelihood of holding strong cards.


To extract more equity, you face a challenging task of narrowing down your opponent's range after the flop, following a disappointing outcome. Let three guiding questions steer you in the right direction:

  • Why would my opponent choose to check on this flop?
  • Why would my opponent make a bet on this flop?
  • Why would my opponent raise on this flop?

Imagine that your opponent knows your cards and acts precisely to beat you. What does that say about their range? What is the best or worst hand with which they can win against you with this move?

Playing Poker Ranges with Strategy

When it comes to playing poker, you're not just dealing with one range, but many. Your range for a raise will look different than for a call or a re-raise. Additionally, you'll need to adjust your behavior in different positions and adapt your range based on the skill level and behavior of your opponents. Our team of poker experts has compiled a few tips and tricks to consider when constructing your ranges:

  • When facing conservative-aggressive players, it is advisable to have a smaller range with stronger hands, whereas against loose-aggressive players, a larger overall number of hands should be considered. Adapt your strategy accordingly to optimize your chances of success against different playing styles.

  • When selecting the hands for your range, don't base it solely on the strength of your opponents. Take into account other factors such as their playing style, position at the table, and previous actions. By considering these aspects, you can make more informed decisions and adapt your strategy accordingly. Remember, poker is a game of skill and strategy, and carefully selecting your hands is just one part of the equation. Keep analyzing the situation and adjusting your approach to maximize your chances of success.

  • Make sure that your hand range is balanced and not predictable.

  • In different situations, consider incorporating speculative cards such as pairs and suited connectors into your strong hands. Embrace the opportunity to add these cards to your arsenal, as they can provide unexpected possibilities and enhance your chances of success.

  • Your range may be weaker if you gain potential for different flops.

  • The art of setting up your range is all about deceiving your opponent by presenting strong cards when you hold a weak hand and a weak hand when you have good cards. The goal is to keep your opponents guessing and off balance, making it difficult for them to accurately assess the strength of your hand. By strategically manipulating your range, you can exploit your opponents' uncertainty and gain an edge in the game. Remember, the key is to maintain a balance between strength and weakness in order to maximize your chances of success.

  • In general, it is advisable to assume that your opponent is also considering your range, but be wary of players who do not react at all. Give thoughtful consideration to the fact that your adversary may be giving careful thought to the cards you are holding, but remain vigilant for competitors who exhibit a complete lack of response.

When comparing your range to that of your opponents, it is important not to be overly optimistic when making decisions. Sometimes, minimizing losses is more crucial than winning a pot. Within a range, both you and your opponents will assign different weights to individual hands. This is also referred to as a "weighted range." As a simple example, let's say your opponent's range is AA and QQ, while you hold KK. Your chance of winning would be 50% if your opponent truly played both pairs in every instance. However, it is possible that they give more weight to the aces and only occasionally play the queens. This would mean that you would lose in more than half of the showdowns.

Flexible and static ranges

Sometimes, a range is referred to as elastic and inelastic or even flexible and static. A poker player with a flexible range adjusts it according to the current pot or bet. A player with a static range makes their decisions to call, raise, or fold regardless of the bet size or pot. The flexibility of a range is determined by how much influence the opponent's bet size has. With a static hand, you make a large bet when you have good cards. With a flexible hand, you only bet enough for weaker hands to call.

Poker Range Balance

A balanced hand range versus an unbalanced one, what does that mean? If you consistently play only specific hands in a particular manner in a given situation, your range will be unbalanced. Your opponent can easily narrow down your range. On the other hand, if you play various strong and weak hands in the same way in a specific situation, your range becomes balanced. Thus, achieving balance in your range involves approaching the same situation with different hands.

In case of an imbalance, you can restore equilibrium in two ways.

  • Play hands of varying strength in the same manner.

  • Play the exact same hand in different ways.

However, if you typically play with equity, you should refrain from bluffing outright. Striking a range balance is a delicate balancing act that demands extensive practice and player expertise. It is crucial not to underestimate the significance of honing your skills in order to achieve a harmonious blend of strategies.

Poker Ranges Summary

We have observed that a hand range comprises all possible hand cards of a poker player. Just like knowing the exact hand cards, you cannot know the precise range of an opponent, but there are numerous indicators and statistical values that assist you in assessing your opponent's hand range to the best of your ability. Poker software is an indispensable tool when working with poker ranges. Determining an opponent's range is easier pre-flop. However, after the flop, you require additional information and experience to reasonably assume a poker range.

Pondering over your opponents' potential hand ranges instead of attempting to "guess" their exact cards is a professional approach to Texas Hold'em theory and analysis. By adopting this strategy, you will naturally gain a better understanding of your adversaries and enhance your own gameplay and decision-making skills. Embracing poker ranges will ultimately lead to improved performance and more effective strategies in the game of Texas Hold'em.