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Why poker hand ranges are your ultimate winning tool

Why poker hand ranges are your ultimate winning tool

Why poker hand ranges are your ultimate winning tool

Tue Nov 15 2022 06:44:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

Being victorious in poker is more than knowing what makes a winning hand. You also have to apply strategies to get leverage on your opponents sitting across you from the table. One specific strategy is knowing poker hand ranges to guess your opponent's hole cards range based on their actions on the table. 

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Correctly guessing your opponents' hole cards puts you at an incredible advantage when playing poker, though it's nearly impossible. The next best thing to do is know how ranges in poker work and how you can use this to your advantage.

Players like you can become the best poker players when you read poker ranges with the right tools. Luckily for you, we've got you covered here at Bitcasino. Learn how to utilise the skill in your next game in this in-depth guide to poker ranges.

What are poker hand ranges?

Poker hand ranges refer to the collection of hands played by you or your opponent in a particular game. Good players often estimate the range of cards an opponent might hold and base their decisions there. It's near impossible to guess a hand correctly in one try. 

Professional players may seem to have guessed their opponents' cards to a tee, but that's because they utilise ranges in poker in the process of elimination. Throughout the game, they put their opponent in a range based on the players' actions from pre-flop to the river. These actions can be from their betting style, size, and even the way they bluff. 

Estimating the opponent's range gives you an idea of their hole cards even when the game's just starting, putting you in a leveraged position. Although it's impossible to predict hole cards the moment they are dealt on the table, guessing poker ranges based on their reactions can put you on the right track to strategising your next play. 

How poker hand ranges work

Poker hand ranges work best in an in-person game because you can observe the opponent's actions while they're at play. Although you can still use this strategy on Bitcoin casino poker tables, it'll be challenging since everything happens virtually. You won't be able to see the players' tell on an online poker table. 

However, you can still guess your opponent's hand range, even virtually, by their bet size and their raises or calls. If the player has a good hand, they would probably call or raise, making it easier for you to narrow down their hole cards' range. 

How poker hand range notation works

Before delving into the chart, you should also know how the hand range notation works. This will help you read charts on poker hand ranges as we follow this guide.

Below is a table of the cards' denominations and their respective notations:












Ten (10)

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Represents its corresponding card value

Card suits are also denoted in charts as follows:











Poker hand range chart

Photo taken from

You'd need to study the poker ranges chart to visualise poker hand ranges best. There are 169 hand combinations, especially in Texas Hold 'em poker, the most popular variant of the casino game. 

The poker pre-flop range chart is highlighted in certain colours and notated with letters to indicate whether they're pairs, suited or not. The ones in green are pocket pairs, and the yellow highlighted ones are suited (s), and the ones in white are unsuited (o). 

This diagram visually represents poker ranges so players can cluster groups together. It might also look like an even number of suited and unsuited hands, which is different. Remember that there are several other possible combinations per poker hand:

  • Pocket pairs have 6 combinations each
  • Non-paired hands have 16 combinations each
  • Unsuited hands have 12 combinations each
  • Suited hands have 4 combinations each.

You can also group the hand ranges depending on what makes a strong and weak hand. For example, you can group the hands by:

  • Premium Pairs: A-A, K-K, Q-Q and J-J
  • Middle Pairs: T-T, 9-9, 8-8, 7-7 and 6-6
  • Lower Pairs: 5-5, 4-4, 3-3 and 2-2
  • Ace-X: A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10, A-9, A-8, A-7, A-6, A-5, A-4, A-3 and A-2
  • Middle connectors: 9-8, 7-6, 6-5

With the groupings above, you can think of five categories instead of all the possible pre-flop poker ranges. It can make assigning a range to an opponent easier.

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How to read poker hand ranges

Hand reading in poker identifies the hands your opponents are most likely holding. Throughout a round, a player's range does not stay the same. It starts widest during the pre-flop and narrows down immensely during post-flop play. 

To properly read a hand, you must first assign poker opening hand ranges to your opponents, depending on the situation. It includes how they reacted upon receiving their hole cards and their actions during the pre-flop round. 

Assigning a poker hand to your opponent gives you an idea of the range when they're betting. After that, you can narrow down the selection further with how they bet. 

Ranging your opponents by position

Poker position ranges are everything in this game since where you sit dictates when and how you act. For example, on a 9-handed table, early positions, namely the blinds and under-the-gun positions, are where you can play a strong hand. That's because they're one of the first players to act and set the game's tone. They also have less information than those seated in late positions like the hijack. 

With this in mind, you must consider poker ranges by position. To fully understand this, take a look at the poker range chart by position below:

9-max table order

Poker Open Raise Range


Premium Pairs: J-J, Q-Q, K-K and A-A

Strong Aces: A-J suited, A-Q suited and unsuited, and A-K suited and unsuited


Premium Pairs: J-J, Q-Q, K-K and A-A

Strong Aces: A-J suited, A-Q suited and unsuited, and A-K suited and unsuited

Middle Pairs: T-T, 9-9 and 8-8

Suited connectors: Q-J, J-T and T-9

A-J unsuited, A-T unsuited and K-Q suited


Premium Pairs: J-J, Q-Q, K-K and A-A

Strong Aces: A-J suited, A-Q suited and unsuited, and A-K suited and unsuited

Middle Pairs: T-T, 9-9 and 8-8

Suited connectors: Q-J, J-T and T-9

A-J unsuited, A-T unsuited and K-Q suited

All pairs

A-7 suited

8-9 and 7-8 suited

These are the basic strategies for an open raise range in poker. You can deduce how the opponent will bet during the pre-flop and post-flop rounds by the poker hand range position

When the player is early, they'd be playing conservatively, only continuing if they have good hole cards. On the other hand, when the player is late, they can have a wider range because they have more information about how the game is being played. You can then narrow down what they have to premium pairs and strong aces. 

How to estimate your opponent's poker range

Winning a hand in poker is more than just knowing your opponent's bluffs. It's also about learning to read their poker hand ranges by position to determine whether they have good cards.

To build a range for your opponent, use these criteria:

  1. Your opponent’s profile

Everyone at the poker table isn't equal. That's because a player's appearance, age and demeanour can tell how they'd likely play. For example, older players are known to be risk-averse compared to younger players. 

What a player wears also tells you how they play. For example, a player who's wearing casual clothing in a high-end casino is more likely to be a frequent goer as compared to opponents wearing formal attire who are likely inexperienced. 

  1. Their position in the pre-flop round

After profiling your opponent, you must consider their poker table position in the pre-flop round. Where they're placed will drastically affect their range composition. If the player is in one of the early positions, they'd be more than likely to be tight, while players in the late positions have a wider range. 

Create an overall picture of your opponent by combining all your observed information. From the inferences you made from profiling them to the position they are in on the poker table, these can help you narrow down the range of their hands. 

  1. The actions they take

Your opponent's actions, both pre-flop and post-flop, will influence the range of their hands. Did they raise or limp during the pre-flop? Opponents will have different ranges, which are all dependent on the actions they take.

The same applies to the post-flop round. The actions they make will change the hands they have in their range. During this time, you're narrowing the range down to specific card pairs they are most likely to have based on how they bet. 

  1. Past information

Keep a close eye on your opponents and see whether they're doing anything unexpected based on the profile you've created for them. For example, you've profiled someone as tight, but then you see them in a showdown where they raise their bets. Your first assumption might be wrong, and now you need to adjust their profile. 

Some players succumb to their initial assumptions of their opponents, not changing their profile after being presented with contrary evidence. It can cause your downfall on the table. Instead, you should always gather information on the table and use it to understand your opponents' tendencies better.

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How to win using poker hand ranges

Knowing what poker hand ranges are and how they work is only half the battle. You should also know what to do with the information you've gathered from your opponents and how you can use this to guess the range of their hole cards. 

Here are some tips on how you can win a hand using poker ranges:

  1. Become self-aware

Your opponents might also be using this strategy against you. So when you've been playing tightly and suddenly make a big re-raise during the pre-flop round, your opponents will think you have a premium hand. 

Make your actions work to your advantage. Place bets that would make your opponent think otherwise. Don't make your actions too obvious or predictable so you can have the element of surprise when the river and turn comes. 

  1. Throw a curveball

Plenty of room for creativity in poker, so thoroughly confuse your opponents. Switch things up by making huge raises with mediocre hands. This can confuse your opponents, especially if they already have a preconceived idea of how you play.

  1. Fold low pocket pairs when you’re short-stacked with no good set

Low pocket pairs are best for completing sets, so many overvalue them early in the game. However, their value drastically decreases as your stacks get smaller. So if you have low pocket pairs and still haven't made a good set with them, but your stack has gotten short, folding is your next best way to prevent further losses.

  1. Don’t overvalue low-suited connectors

Many overvalue low-suited connectors since they can make deceiving hands that can get strong by the end of the game. But just like low-pocket pairs, they get weaker the longer the round goes since there's a chance someone already has a better hand than you by the time you form a strong hand with them. 

So be wary of low-suited connectors and avoid banking your entire play on them. Consider other pairs in your range; if you have no desirable position, you can always check, bluff, or fold.

  1. Play tighter when in early positions

Always err on the side of caution when playing an early position. That's because you can't play a wide range of cards when you're the button, small or big blind, and under the gun. Moreover, you will need more information on the other players before making an informed decision since you're among the first to act.

So don't overestimate the number of hands you can play. Instead, play tightly and cautiously tread until you have good cards on your hands. 

Know when to use minimum defence frequency

Minimum defence frequency or MDF refers to the minimum amount you must call or raise. Utilising this prevents you from being exploited by other players' bluffs. 

With this strategy, you take your range of possible hands and your opponents' bet sizes. This will show you how much of your range you should defend without overfolding. 

To get your MDF, use the formula below:

MDF = Pot size / (pot size + bet)

The table below will show the MDF you need to apply based on the opponent’s bet size:

Opponent’s bet size


2x the pot


1.5x the pot


Equal to the pot


¾ of the pot


⅔ of the pot


½ of the pot


⅓ of the pot


¼ of the pot


It's best to use the MDF strategy when you have no information about your opponents or when you're up against well-balanced players. That's because you can properly defend your range without having to overfold your bets.

Use poker hand ranges to your advantage and win at Bitcasino!

Poker hand ranges can help leverage your play at a poker table. Knowing how to utilise this alongside other poker strategies gives you more control over your opponents during a game. 

Now that you know how poker hand ranges work and how to utilise them to your advantage, you can practise it on your own or play with other Bitcasino players on games, including Poker 6+ and Bet-On-Poker. Enhance your skills and become a proficient player at poker. 

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FAQs on poker hand ranges

Why is it important to know the hand ranges of your opponent?

Knowing the hand ranges of your opponents gives you approximate knowledge of what they have on their hands based on their actions. With this information, you can make better betting decisions during pre-flop and post-flop. 

How will you know your opponent's hand range?

You assign the opponent's hand range depending on their actions during the pre-flop round. Players often make decisions based on their position on the table. For example, they probably have a good hand if they're early and play loosely. 

How can you disguise your range from your opponent?

Disguising your range from the opponent can be challenging, but it's possible when you play hands from certain positions that your opponents would not expect you to do. 

What is a poker hand range chart?

The poker hand range chart allows players to visualise a poker range. It's arranged in a 13x13 grid table to see the 169 hand combinations.

How do you use poker ranges when playing?

Poker ranges only work when you assign your opponents a range of hands based on their actions and demeanour. This will likely determine what hands they have. 

What ranges should be played when it's still pre-flop?

There's no one way to play the ranges when it's still pre-flop. It'll depend on your position, the comprehensive study of play and the actions of your opponents. This will vary typically from game to game. 

Words by: Sunday Carreon

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Why poker hand ranges are your ultimate winning tool