This Poker Hand

Learning to Read a Range


Even if you have only ever played a few games of poker in your life, you have likely realized that one of the best keys to success is the ability to read your opponents. This means not only learning how to tell when another player is bluffing, but also learning how to guess which cards they might be holding based on their reactions to your own moves.

Assign a Range

It is almost impossible to determine what your opponents are holding down to the exact card. It is possible, however, to determine the range of cards he or she is holding. Assigning a range to each of your opponents means estimating what possible variety of cards they might have. The best estimated ranges can be assigned by carrying out a process of elimination.

Example

Assigning a range can be done by paying attention to how each player reacts when you raise. Say, for example, you hold two Jacks and decide to raise at the first opportunity. An opponent calls but does not re-raise. This means he or she probably does not have two Queens, Kings, or Aces, since these cases usually result in another raise. Thus, you can shorten the estimated raise accordingly.

When you start playing a hand, the range you assign to players will be fairly large. If you are attentive to certain players' styles and moves, however, you will be able to reduce that range to a smaller number of cards as the game progresses.