Range construction – Introduction

Range construction

What is range construction?

Range construction involves dividing all the hands in your range into separate actions. For example, if you are in position to your opponent and you are checked to on the flop, you will have a checking back range, and a betting range. Your betting range will also be further divided into a bet-fold, bet-call, and bet-3bet if your opponent raises.

How do you construct a range?

The way you construct your hand will depend on any information you have, such as the board texture, and (if looking to exploit) your opponent’s tendencies and frequencies.

You will need to think about exactly how many combinations of hands remain in your range at the start of each street. This will be your combinations from the previous street, minus any combinations blocked by what has come on the board. You will need to think about how many combinations you want to carry forward to the following street, and your value to bluff ratio for this street. If you were the preflop raiser, and your opponent checks to you on each street, and you are constructing for a pot sized bet on each street or a check at equilibrium you would be looking at betting approximately 70% of the hands remaining in your range on each street (on average across all board textures – you would be betting slightly less on worse board textures, and slightly more on better board textures) – on the flop you would look to have a 1:2 value:bluff ratio, on the turn a 1:1 value:bluff ratio, and on the river a 2:1 value:bluff ratio.

You must remember to protect your actions, during range construction. This means you cannot just be betting all your best made hands, and checking all medium strength hands/draws/give ups. This is easy for your opponent to counteract, once they know what you are doing. Instead each action should be balanced.

Why is range construction necessary?

At UnfairPoker.com we think it is imperative you always think in terms of range construction, and never just react to what happens. Weaker player play in a close to 100% reactive fashion – they make their decision mainly based on the exact hand they are holding, and what has come on the board. For example, they think that’s a great card for the exact hand that I have – I bet. Or, they may say that’s card doesn’t do anything for the hand that I am holding, I check. Or, I have a draw but it’s not made yet, so I’ll just call or check until I make it, in which case I’ll put in money into the pot.

When you play in this reactive way, rather than having a plan that involves range construction, you are likely to:

  • be giving off a multitude of tells. This could include timing tells, or physical tells.
  • not be maximizing the EV of your entire range.
  • not be protecting your actions. For example, you may unknowingly always be betting your strong hands when checked to. This means when you don’t bet you must have a weak hand, that your opponent can put pressure on.