I answer 2 listener Q’s about how to start the hand reading journey and where to go for some limit holdem learning.
In episode 75 I discussed playing online poker from the US, plugging those pesky LIVE play leaks and the study habits of poker pros.
Hand Ranging and Limit Holdem
Question 1 from myself (1:25)
You missed last Tuesday’s episode. What gives? I need my weekly poker strategy fix and you’re all I’ve got. Please return to your normally scheduled podcasting schedule, man.
Love, your biggest fan, Sky Matsuhashi
- I overbooked myself and it won’t happen again! I’ve worked out my scheduling kinks for the rest of the summer and episodes will go up as scheduled: Tuesday’s for strategy and Friday’s for Q&A.
Question 2 from Gerald Pervall (2:45)
Thank you so much for your response Sky. I have another question that I hope you can help me with and I hope I can word the question well enough that you understand what I’m trying to ask. Here goes:
I bought James “SplitSuit” Sweeney’s Hand Reading Lab Book when I was in Vegas. I started reading the first pages and I realized, I don’t know what my ranges are. I mean, I will look down at a hand and assess my position, look to see if anyone has called, raised or whatever and then decide if I would take action but other than that I don’t know what MY ranges are. Also, I don’t know how to assign ranges to other people. I will assume that an EP payer that raises pre should have a good hand and each position after EP’s ranges should widen a bit but that’s the extent of my “ranging”.
So, while I was reading the first pages and also looked at SplitSuits Flopzilla tutorial I am still stumped on how to define my range given certain positions and find ranges of other players given their position. On top of that, how will I know if/when I’m right?
I have primarily been a “feel” player with some success but I want to incorporate my “feel” with good solid thinking, hand ranging and math to become a better complete player.
After being long winded, I guess my question is, what are the baby steps I can take, using Flopzilla and Splitsuit’s Hand Reading Lab to better my game? Right now, it feels overwhelming.
I hope all that made sense. I understand it will take some time for you to respond. I’ll wait:)
- There are a few steps to understanding and to begin thinking in terms of ranges in poker:
- The first step is to simply create your own opening ranges by position (I have ranges grouped by EP, MP, CO, BTN, SB and BB. If you’re a 9 max player, EP is UTG, UTG+1 and MP1. MP is MP2 and HJ). So start with EP and look at a hand matrix in Flopzilla. Go hand by hand and select the hands that you’d open raise with 100% of the time. 10% example EP opening range: After you do this for the EP, then move on to the MP and decide which hands you’d open with 100% of the time there. Do this for the CO, BTN and SB as well. These as your default ranges.
- Now that you have these ranges, you can start to do some equity calculations in Flopzilla to see how certain hands play vs these ranges. Like how well does TT play against the 10% EP range? This kind of study will get you more used to ranges and equities. TT vs 10% range in Flopzilla:
- Practice ranging opponents in the hands you play that went to showdown. Start by assigning them a pre-flop range based on your history with them and their actions pre-flop. If you have no idea what their range could be, simply assign your opening range based on their position. The more you practice this the better you’ll get at it. Narrow their range based on their actions and the boards as the streets progress. Then when you see their final holdings, assess how well you narrowed their ranges through the hands. Take notes on what you messed up so you can learn from these mistakes. You can do this work at or away from the tables, and whether you’re involved in the hand or not.
- Here are a few podcasts where I discussed creating your own ranges and ranging opponents:
- #22 ‘The Course’ Skill #1 ‘Play a Simple and Effective Pre-flop Strategy’
- #37 Q&A US Online Poker, SNG Ranges and Podcast Format
- #48 Q&A 3bet Ranges, Study Groups and Off-the-felt Poker Practice
- #57 Q&A SB Opening Range, Game Tape & Virtual Study Groups
- The current ‘Hand Reading Lab’ series of podcasts
- Hand reading is totally overwhelming at first, but if you practice it’ll become a valuable skill. When it comes to ranging, you’ll often be incorrect because it’s all about making assumptions on the way your opponent plays his hands. But with practice you’ll get better and be in the ball park more often than not.
Question 3 from Angelo (11:30)
I found your website through a blog post from www.exceptionalpoker.com. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read about your 30 day challenge and feel it would help a lot. I am currently playing micro stakes LHE 6-Max. A few websites mentioned that playing LHE will give me an edge on my post flop game but the content on LHE is limited. How can I implement your study challenges with this barrier in mind? Look forward to hearing from you, Angelo
- ExceptionalPoker.com is a great website and I urge everyone to check it out.
- Start hitting up the 2+2 forums and the LHE in particular.
- There’s lots of LHE books available. They may have been written years ago, but I’m sure the math for different situations still holds up and prolly most of the strategies will still work today. A long time ago I read ‘Winning Low Limit Holdem’ by Lee Jones and it was a pretty good book.
- But, regarding putting my challenges to use in learning LHE, that’s up to your imagination. You can basically tailor any challenge to LHE. Take a 3bet challenge, where every hand you play if it’s raised before you pre-flop, you come in for the 3bet no matter what. This will get you used to upping the aggression and give you practice playing 3bet pots both IP and OOP. You can do a 30-day challenge to run through the math of a LHE drawing hand, one every 30 days. You can do a 30 day challenge to post a hand in the FB discussion group or on a forum every day for 30 days. It’s basically up to you to tailor the challenge to suit your LHE learning needs.
In podcast #77, I’ll continue the Hand Reading Lab series with part 6 where I’ll show you how to work out your opponent’s 3bet calling and 4betting ranges using 3 specific HUD stats and 3 important questions.
Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.
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- Jan Philippi Interview | Psychologist and Poker Mindfulness Teacher - September 30, 2021