How To Analyze A Hand
The typical hand analysis thread in a poker forum
looks a little a something like this:
- Hand with actions up until first "questionable action" shown
- Spoiler around the action in question
- Posts from people saying what they would do on that street (and why, ideally)
- Consenus, if the spot was straightforward, or
- Lively discussion, followed by
But what happens if you want to sit down and analyze your own hand? Maybe you don't have internet access, or don't want to wait for the masses to respond to your hand online. Or maybe you just want to be able to reach some kind of conclusion on your own (gosh - this might be helpful since you play most hands by yourself!).
There are actually a number of ways you can analyze a hand. Some of them less detailed, and some of them downright tedious. But today we use one of my favorites:
Full-Range Hand Analysis
The idea of this is that instead of looking at a given spot in a vacuum, we look at the actions in the entire hand - and at each decision point we consider our opponent's range, our own range, and then try to decide how each part of that range plays. As we go on, we narrow all ranges (although an even tougher hand analysis would be to then keep analyzing how the rest of our range would play, even if we didn't take that action). I'm probably not explaining this perfectly, but you'll get it more as we go along.
Live $1-$2, effective stack sizes = $450, no reads (sat down at the table recently), table looking loose passive in first 2 orbits though.
: 2 limpers, Hero is in MP with
, and makes it $15 to go. First limper folds, and limper to Hero's immediate right calls.
- Hero's isolating range is: 99+/AT+/KJ+ (6.3% of hands)
- Hero's over-limping range is: 88-/87s+/T8s+/Q9s+/A2s+ excluding the isolating range (8.9% of hands)
- Hero's folding range = everything else (84.8% of hands)
- Villain's over-limp/calling range = 22-TT/54s+/75s+/ T7s+/Q8s+/T9o+/QTo+/KTo+/Axs/A8o+ (23.7% of hands)
- Villain's isolating limper range = AK/AQ/JJ+ (4.2% of hands)
Villain leads for $10. He probably only does this with hands that have connected on some level. It looks pretty small, which could be thin value, blocking (with a flush draw or PP), or a "I don't understand bet-sizing" bet.
- Villain's lead $10 range: K9s-KJs/KTo-KJo/Axcc/Q8s-QJs/54-JTcc/75-J9cc/ T7-J8cc/44-TT
- Villain's check-raise range: 33
- Villain's check-fold range: everything else
- I don't think he really has a check-call range here because I think he leads a TON of hands he wants to continue with
Hero makes it $40 (remember hero's isolating range was 99+/AT+/KJ+).
- Hero's raise to $40 range: QQ+/AT-AJcc/KJ/KQ/AK
- Hero's call $10 range: 99-JJ/AQ
- Hero's fold range: AT-AJ (no flush draw)
- I think this range distribution is pretty optimal, given how weird his line is and the assumptions we're forced to make about how his range breaks down
- K9s-KJs/KTo-KJo/Axcc/Q8s-QJs/54-JTcc/75-J9cc/ T7-J8cc
- Villain continues with his entire leading range aside from the PP's
Villain leads for $10 again.
- I think realistically we would have to start assigning weights to some of his combos here, but for simplicity, I will assume full weights
- Villain's lead $10 range: K9s-KJs/KTo-KJo/54-JTcc/Axcc/J9cc
- Villain's check range: T7-J8cc/75-T8cc/Q8s-QJs
Hero makes it $70 (range before this is QQ+/AT-AJcc/KJ/KQ/AK)
- Hero's raise to $70 range: QQ+/KQ/AK/KJcc
- Hero's call range: AT-AJcc/KJ (no FD)
- Villain's calling range: K9s-KJs/KTo-KJo/54-JTcc/Axcc/J9cc
- Villain likely doesn't fold anything he leads here, since he has to call $60 into a very large pot
- The flush draw misses, and based on villain's line so far, he probably checks his entire range here, and will call a small to medium-sized bet with top pair.
Hero bets $70 (range before this is QQ+/KQ/AK/KJcc).
- Hero's $70 betting range: AA/AK/KJcc
- Hero's bet bigger (probably $120ish) range: QQ/KK/KQ/
- Villain's calling range: K9s-KJs/KTo-KJo (2.7% of hands)
- Villain's folding range: 54-JTcc/Axcc/J9cc (1.4% of hands)
I think I make a pretty enormous mistake on the river with my sizing. Note that my range for betting the river beats villain's entire river range. And the only hands we expect villain to get to the river with that aren't flush draws are top pair hands. In the moment I was worried about KQ, but look at how the action went. KQ isn't even possible on the flop, because villain is pretty much always going to x/r it (or lead larger, perhaps).
We can't expect a villain who takes this line to be folding top hair for just about anything on this river. I can be bombing it to at least $150, but I think $180 is a pretty reasonable size and will get looked up a LOT.
Another consideration here is that not only does Hero's entire range beat villain's entire range, but also that 1/3 of villain's range that gets to the river is going to be check-folding. I think this is a spot where we can try to get to this river with more air combos by semi-bluffing the turn with straight draws and then betting small on the river to get his air to fold. Then bomb the river with value hands to get paid off by his top pair hands. We don't need to balance at all, because villain isn't a strong enough hand reader, and he's going to insta-fold all his flush draws that bricked (unless they are also top pair).
I expect we can bet $50-70 on this river and get Axcc to insta-muck. Which is an outrageously +EV play. We bet $70 to win $250, and he folds 1/3 of the time. 2/3 of the time we lose $70, and 1/3 of the time we win $250, so
= (1/3)($250) + (2/3)(-$70) = $83.33 - $46.67 = $36.66 EV
And that's absolutely HUGE. Villain ended up with K9cc in this spot, and didn't insta-call, but he didn't exactly tank either. This points even more to the idea that I can probably size bigger in this spot.
Hopefully someone gets something out of this. It can be time-consuming, but it can also be really eye-opening to sit down and break down a spot like this. Separating out the ranges on each street can also inform us on when we can take profitable bluff lines, or value bet thinner - or whatever! I didn't give the % of hands that each part of his range was on every street, since I focused more on the river decision, but doing that on every street will give you even more insight (again, it can be time-consuming though).
Thanks for wading through this monster post, and good luck with your hand analysis!