Poker Theory Fundamentals IV: Balancing Ranges

Poker Theory Fundamentals IV: Balancing Ranges - Spin & Go Strategy

As defined in our poker terms section, balancing ranges in poker is having a similar number of value hands and bluffs in your range in each specific situation. A simple example is in situation where you 3bet from the SB against a BTN raise. If the only time you ever do this is with your strong hands, a thinking-player can raise an incredibly wide range and simply fold when you reraise (or, if you did not raise all in and the price is right, call your raise with the sole intention of flopping 2-pairs or better and getting paid off by your overpair).

So in order to “balance your range” in that situation, you need to create a range that includes a similar number of both value hands and bluffs.

And that example is just one of an almost infinite amount of situations you would need to balance when playing a strong opponent.

Do you have an equal number of value hands and bluffs when you don’t cbet the flop?

Are you balanced when you check-raise the turn?

What about when you bet more than the size of the pot?

As you can probably begin to see, balancing in poker will be an extremely specific and intricate aspect of every hand you play. And while it may seem like an overwhelming task, with the use of a program such as PokerSnowie or the help of an experienced player, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems.

Having said that, an important thing to note is that your ranges don’t need to be balanced in every situation. In fact, adhering to a completely balanced game-plan will actually be an incredibly costly spin and go strategy and one I would strongly discourage in the majority of spots in the low-stake and Spin & Go games. For example, while it’s going to be incredibly important against strong opponents to balance your turn probe bet (betting on the turn after your opponent does not c-bet the flop), many of your opponents will not have a sophisticated enough understanding of the game to necessitate doing so. Because when most recreational players do not cbet they are either trying to induce action in very obvious spots (such as on a KKx flop when they hold a king) or will be folding to a double-barrel (a bet on both the turn and river) at an extremely high frequency.

Therefore, once you are armed with this knowledge, double-barrelling at a high rate every time your opponent misses a cbet on a board they are unlikely to be trapping on is going to be incredibly profitable, regardless of the fact that you yourself can simply not have enough value hands in that spot to warrant doing so, and thus are unbalanced.

Simply put, the value you gain from taking an unbalanced strategy against a weak opponent will nearly always heavily outweigh any theoretical benefits you gain from remaining balanced. So my advice for Spin & Go SNGs would be that you work on understanding how to balance a variety of common 3-handed situations, but only worry about applying that understanding in one very specific situation: when you are sure your opponent can exploit your imbalance at a greater winrate than you can exploit his or her tendencies with that same imbalance in place.

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6 Comments

  • Spinwin

    Reply Reply July 14, 2015

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  • pokerbrat

    Reply Reply July 18, 2015

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  • Mercedes

    Reply Reply July 25, 2015

    Love this piece. Nice one buddy.

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