Sports & Games

Hand Ranges and Board Texture

Daniel Negreanu

Lesson time 27:53 min

Daniel breaks down hand range theory using specific scenarios to demonstrate how to identify ranges based on board textures, betting patterns, and player tendencies.

Daniel Negreanu
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Poker's evolved a lot obviously, over the last 20 years since I've played. And one of the main ways that it's changed is just the way that you read hands, right? So when I started out, the common theory was, OK, what is my hand, right? So you understand what you have, the strength of your hand based on the board. And then the second question is, what hand do I think my opponent has, right? Very simple. What do I have, what do I think my opponent has. Well, that developed through the years to, now I know my hand, and I know the strength of my hand. So what range of hands could that opponent have? Could he have a pair of 6's, could he have three aces. So now you're not putting them on one specific hand, you're putting them on a range of hands. Well, that's evolved even further now to a point where poker is at sort of a really game theory based place. Where now, I'm focusing on in a situation, what range of hands could I have that my opponent may think I have, and what range of hands does my opponent have. Now so instead of playing which was the very elementary version, my hand versus your hand, which became my hand versus your range, which ultimately becomes my range versus your range. And this is going to become important when we talk about situations where you'll have a range advantage. Certain boards where you know you're more likely to have stronger hands on your opponent. It's very important to know this kind of stuff because it's going to affect how often we're betting, what frequencies we're deciding to go with based on understanding we have a range. They don't know exactly what we have, they have us on a range. We can have them on a range, and we need to play accordingly. When you're trying to break down an opponent's hand, you don't just throw out a dart and be like, you must have king 5. Now you may have seen me do this on television in the old days, but essentially, I was still doing the same thing in terms of breaking down a range starting with a wide one, making it smaller. And sometimes, because players were so obvious back then and they had such a honest way of playing that I was able to pinpoint the exact cards. Now ideally, you want to narrow it down to the smallest number of hands you can. And sometimes, against some specific players, you can specifically figure out their exact two cards. But ideally, what you want to just figure out is OK, how many combinations of value hands do they have versus how many combinations of bluffs. Because that's all that's going to matter. You don't need to know exactly what the bluff is. You don't need to know exactly what the value hand is. You just have to gauge whether or not your hand you know is good enough to beat the value hands or whether or not your opponent is bluffing or not. How long it takes to kind of figure out what range of hands your opponents play in certain situations-- there's no real way to say like it takes exactly one hour, it takes 20 showdowns. I mean, ...

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This class helped me understand the terminology and basic fundamentals along with some of the advanced things I was already doing in my game but wasn't cognoscent of why. Explaining everything in here was just what I needed


Armand M.

What kind of information can you take away from a play that doesn't make it past the river? I feel like there's a whole lot of game-play that goes on and you'll hardly ever see another players hole cards because their opponents fold on the turn or on the river and then you don't get to collect that data.

A fellow student

I feel like I don't understand many things Daniel is talking about. I am new to poker. Does anyone have any suggestions for me? Also why would you fold QQ? Isn't it similar to JJ?

William L.

I have a question about the scenario described at 7:00, where you have JJ and you know your opponent would only shove with AA, KK or AK. In Daniel's example, he explains that, because there are 16 combos of AK and 12 combos of AA and KK, that you should always call against that range. But in my way of thinking, of those 16 combos of AK, you are going to lose roughly half the time, as your jacks are a coin flip against AK. (Of course you're slightly favored, but only by a few percentage points, and even less if it's a suited AK.) So, if you lose to 12 combinations of AA and KK, and only win half the time against the 16 combinations of AK, isn't it correct to fold your JJ?

A fellow student

when taking about position for example you are the button everyone folds around to you and you raise with say the 5-6 off suit hand small blind calls with king queen big blind calls with king jack board comes out rainbow with nobody hitting flop. In a perfect world check-check you bet they both fold but this isn't always the case just curious on your thoughts for situations that they do lead out with a bet and you obviously have missed with 5-6 is that an automatic fold for you? I would like more in depth detail for hands and different scenarios where everyone doesn't always play by the book and try to make moves in certain spots


what would you recommend to start understanding and using the maths. Mostly to understand the basics. Many thanks in advance !!


Thanks for sharing with humility Daniel. All what you say is helpful !! Thank you !!!

Chris H.

One of the frustrations I have as a low limit player ($1-2 occasionally $2-5 Cash)is there are so many players that want to limp into every pot, then when you wake up with a hand in later position and raise you end up with one of two situations. You raise too much and they all fold so you don't get the max value out of your hand, or you raise and once the first player after you flat calls, the rest of the limpers all call as well leaving you playing your strong hand 5-7 way after a flop. I find the standard 3x raise does nothing at these limits to really thin out anyone, often the "standard" raise at a $1-2 table is $12-15 which will get you 2-4 callers. Throw in all the high hand promotions everywhere and it just makes people feel obligated to call with anything that can somehow be stretched into a hight hand, then they flop two pair or some crazy straight. Because of this it is far more difficult to put the players even on a range of hands because the last couple players will literally call with any two. I find very similar issues in low buy in tournaments ($150 or less) Do other low limit players find this to be true? If so, what strategy do you use to help combat it? Just over raise pre flop (totally defining your hand) and take down a bunch of $12 pots and hope to occasionally get 1 caller where you can more accurately put them on a range and play post flop?

Sam S.

I am unable to download the .pdf, insead i get this message: "This XML file does not appear to have any style information associated with it. The document tree is shown below. <Error> <Code>AccessDenied</Code> <Message>Request has expired</Message> <X-Amz-Expires>3600</X-Amz-Expires> <Expires>2019-06-04T23:26:20Z</Expires> <ServerTime>2019-06-06T17:50:02Z</ServerTime> <RequestId>4D6ABD93C0675B34</RequestId> <HostId> CHJQPatF69ADNmMyRZNiJNGxePvGdoQBmrYBUBhwdGWKfuT4K7U2kSyPoKWOJbp0Sz8MdLBefnU= </HostId> </Error>"

A fellow student

The part explaining JJ vs AA/KK/AK seemed off to me? I understand the 16 vs 12 hands where you win or lose but win or lose is a strange black and white way to describe it. JJ is barely favoured at like 55% vs AK whereas JJ vs AA/KK is like a 20% blowout. (16x0.55+12x0.2)/28=0.4. So a 40% chance to win the hand. You said 500/1000 blinds and SB goes all in with 15BBs. So the pot is 17k and it costs us 14k to call. 14/31 price is 45% of the pot. So we're paying 5% more than the pot is worth. You called this the right price, but it doesn't seem like it is to me. Have I missed something?

Steve L.

Is there a way to print larger versions of appendixes? Very hard to read without magnifying glass.