Every so often you will get it right. You’ll put your opponent on the exact hand that they have. More often, however, you’ll only be able to tag a range of hands for the other player. For example, if a specific set of circumstances tells you that your opponent may be holding 10-10, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, or A-A, then you can never know with 100% certainty the exact hand that they hold. You can, however, be confident that if you are holding K-K that you will most likely be in a winning position. If your opponent happens to be holding A-A then you can chalk it up to bad luck. In today’s example, I’ll show why you must know ranges and be able to absorb the bad beats that come with being on the wrong end.
I’m sitting on The Big Blind (TBB) holding 9h-9d with blinds at $150/$300. I have $6,000 in chips or 20 big blinds, a short stack according to The Poker Model. With a short stack, I’m looking for a spot to get all-in or fold in the Pre-Flop phase.
The action folds to The Button (TB), who raises to $600 and The Small Blind (TSB) folds. The action is on me and I must decide if I want to call, fold, or raise. This is the precise moment where I must put my opponent on a range of hands and determine how my 9d-9h stacks up. I can do this by looking at a few factors from the opposing player:
- Stack size: Opponent has over 50 big blinds, a large stack according to The Poker Model. Larger stacks have the wiggle room to raise with weaker hands.
- Table position: Opponent is on The Button. Players will raise from The Button with weaker hands in an effort to steal the blinds.
- Previous action: There is no previous action. Player will raise with a wider range of hands with less previous action.
For the above reasons, I can put my opponent on any two cards. 9-9 is very strong against a light range of hands and should be beating most of them. My stack is small and I should be going all-in or folding so I must move all-in here with 9-9.
I move all-in and am called by The Button (TB), who flips over 10s-10h. This is unfortunate in that it was one of the very few hands that has my 9-9 beat. Even though all of the factors were working in my favor, I am still dominated in the hand.
The runout is insignificant because we’ve already made our move. Remember that there are many ways to get unlucky in a hand of poker. In this hand, I was behind the whole time but was unlucky to be in this spot in the first place. Do not change your play based on outcomes like this. Stay disciplined and realize that there will always be a chance of hitting the bad end of your opponent’s range.