How Do I Balance My Poker Range?

This article will cover how to balance your range in poker. For a while I was going through a phase where I was going apeshit on the button, basically I was 3-betting a ton. I was also 3-betting UTG raisers a ton from in position. At first it worked a treat and everything was going fine, but after a while regulars adjusted.

They realised that my range was polarized when 3-betting there UTG open, and because I was doing it a ton I was getting 4-bet alot as a bluff. Mostly at 400nl though because 200nl/100nl regs are kinda slow to adjust and just generally suck. The same goes for 3-betting the button, I was 3-betting a polarized range and 3-betting over say 10% from the button. What this lead to was me getting 4-bet bluffed alot. So then I decided to adjust by 3betting the button lighter for value with hands like 55 so I could shove over there 4bet. This was marginally affective but what it lead to was 1) Some spew when I was doing it against the wrong players. IE I thought people would adjust to me 3-betting a lot, some people would adjust, some people just play the same. 2) Your variance will go up a ton. I had a few situations where I 3-bet small pairs with the intention of shoving over a 4-bet, this works great until someone 4-bet calls 88 and you feel soul crushed.

What this style does is it makes all your preflop decisions more marginal and increases your susceptibility to make errors, maybe if you have the hand reading ability of Phil Galfond you will do fine. However, I am human and playing this aggro pre puts me in a lot of marginal spots I don’t like.

Some players can pull this style off, its not a question about not being able to play these hands postflop, its a question about being exploited because what your doing is unbalanced. So what I have done is adjusted my default 3-betting ranges again. I think they are down to around 7% overall. I feel like now, in certain spots I will show up with a stronger range where its now un-exploitable. Meaning, in spots where I would have say 4x as many bluffs as value hands when 3-betting pre I now turn up with 2x as many as bluffs. So theoretically, if someone 4b bluffs me to 2.5x my 3bet size they are going to be breaking even at best with the play. And this doesn’t include my in-game adjustments where when I sense someone is getting agitated with me 3betting a lot widen my value range slightly or tighten up, so that the next time when I 3-bet I have a nut hand.

So say BTN/CO, my default 3bet range and getting it in vs a 4b might be TT+ AK+. I might widen it to  pairs and AXs if I feel there is a dynamic happening where I might get 4b. So I take out my bluff range and start to merge instead of polarizing. I’m still now sure if this is best though, I think the best solution might be alot simpler. When u feel like you have an aggressive 3-bet dynamic going on, just tighten the fuck up and villan will felt way too lightly because they merge there 4b getting it in range as well. Just hope you get a big hand before he adjusts back to you tightening up, although, he may never do it, since players first impressions of you stay with them for a long time.

Basically, the moral of the story is that balance is something you need to consider. Most specifically, balance is something you need when playing against smart players who will exploit imbalances in your ranges. Obviously, against people who will not adjust or not be able to figure out how your range is weighted, its best to be unbalanced so that you can exploit them. Don’t worry about them exploiting your unbalanced ranges because they wont, they are idiots!

Return to the Strategy Section for more articles like this!