6 Max Fundamentals – Opening Ranges
This is an article I wrote on 6 max ranges and thought that it might be helpful to post in the learning thread.
Hey guy this is UnexceptionalRounder and today I have an article that is part of my 6-max fundamentals series on pre-flop opening ranges. I want to start by pointing out that these ranges are simply a starting point until you have information about the table. I won’t be covering adjustments in this post but we will discuss how to adjust these ranges in the future. These ranges are by no means conclusive or absolute but it will clean up any huge pre-flop range leaks you may not even know you have.
Let’s start with our Under the Gun (UTG) range or early position. Here you want a tight range of hands due to the fact that you have very little information and you don’t know what opponent you might end up against, how many, or what relative position they will have on you. For all these reasons it is wise to err on the tight side. That being said if you are too tight you won’t get action except from better hands. Let’s look at a good tight aggressive range.
Under the Gun Opening Range (12%).
You may notice something interesting right away. I have left out 22-44 in this range. It is my personal preference and something that you may want to include. I have found that these hands don’t perform that well for me and therefore I don’t always open them. One of the reasons is that people often call early position raises with pocket pairs, so sometimes when you hit your set with these your opponent will have a better set. By leaving them out you lessen your chances of facing set over set with bottom set, which may seem negligible or scared, but again… it is just my current disposition on the matter, feel free to add them if you disagree. My open raise size is 3.5 bb, this is relatively standard but it is large enough to decrease the odds
opponents have to call light and try to hit a big hand against my range. I want to be raising a large enough size to get the pot size up pre-flop and make for bigger overall pots with my tightest hand range.
I also feel that the suited aces will play better than off-suit because again much of your opponents range will consist of AQ, AJ, AT and you will be in a tough spot, however the suited hands will offer you more options for continuing when you miss your ace. This same concept applies to suited kings and queens. The idea with our range here is to keep our opponent guessing and let our aggression force them into making mistakes after the flop.
Middle Position (MP) Opening Range (18%).
On our Middle Position (MP) range or Hi-Jack (HJ) we want to still be relatively tight but we have one less player to worry about. This represents about 17% more information than we have from early position. Here I add back in 22-44 and suited aces down to A5s, but only ATo because it doesn’t play very well when called and we are out of position. We also add more suited connectors to balance out our range and make it harder for our opponents to read our play post-flop (aka deception). Last note is that while this may look like a linear increase it is actually a 33% wider range than our UTG range. Ranges expand greatly as the potential for having position post-flop rises. Another way to think of this is that when UTG you have 3 players w/position and 2 players w/out position on you post-flop. You have position on 40% of remaining players to act. In MP you now have 2 and 2; you have post-flop position on 5o% of the remaining players. So with 10% greater chance of position and 17% more information, increasing your range by a third seems about right. Keep in mind this is an absolute increase of only 6% more hands. For my raise size I will make it 3bb, as my range gets lighter I want to have a better price to steal and keep the pot smaller relative to the absolute strength of my hand range. Ok enough of that let’s talk about the Cut-off which is where things get more interesting.
Cut-off (CO) Opening Range (27%).
As you can see the Cut-off (CO) is where we really start opening up. As you can imagine from the above discussion it makes sense to really increase our range in the cut-off because it is the first position where there are more players remaining that will be out of position against us post-flop than have position on us. After making that statement I should point out that I am really speaking theoretically on these numbers as your opponents ranges reflect their own position and Meta game dynamics, this is to illustrate only the theories and justifications of the ranges and what thoughts go into them. This is not to suggest that you will end up in position 2/3 of the time someone calls your cut-off open. In the cut-off we are really opening up by throwing in some suited gapers like T8s and J8s as well as hands like JTo and T9o. We can open any suited ace but we should consider how many opponents will be calling with aces before opening our smaller off-suit and sometimes suited aces. This range will be very liquid in game because it depends so much on our opponents. We will get into that more but for now assume a table full of unknown players; this range will be a good place to start pressuring opponents aggressively. I raise to 2.5bb in the cut-off because I want a better price to steal the blinds with my weaker hands and a smaller pot until I have more information in the hand.
Button (BTN) Opening Range (47%).
On the Button (BTN) you are opening based mostly on the two opponents you see in the blinds. Because you will have post-flop position 100% of the time you can open a much wider range of hands. Your opponents will generally be tighter when playing out of position but even when they are not you will have up to three streets to play post-flop in position. As far as our range goes you want to stick mostly with suited hands that can make a straight. Your off-suit hands should also be capable of making a straight or decent top pair. These types of hands will allow for more aggressive play when called and more possible calling hands when 3-bet pre-flop. There is some debate about optimal raising size from the button but I have been min-raising the button with success. The min-raise works well because you are risking only 2bb to win 1.5bb which means if both your opponents fold 57% of the time you show an immediate profit. Two opponents who each fold to steal 80% or more should both fold 64% of the time. So your min-raise would show an immediate profit if it doesn’t cause them to open up their range. I don’t want to get into steal dynamics yet as it is complex and will be covered in depth in a future post.
Small Blind (SB) Opening Range (27%).
As with the Button your Small Blind (SB) range will be totally opponent based, however you have to start somewhere if you have little or no information on your opponent. Here your steal odds are even better but you face one huge difference, your opponent has position on you right now and will have position post-flop. This makes it so that you will probably not be able to profit as much post-flop when called and you will have to tighten up your 3-bet calling range as well. You might notice this looks similar to your cut-off range, which is because until you know something about your opponent you should play relatively straight forward in the small blind. Mostly cards with top pair value or strong suited connectors that can play well post-flop. Once you know something about your opponent this can all change. As far as your raise size goes there is debate here about 3bb vs 4 bb. I have had success raising 3bb which gives better odds to steal. If you raise 3bb you break even when your opponent folds 63% of the time. This means that if your opponent folds 63% you would make money just checking down all your hands in your range and folding to any bet. Now there are a lot of hands that you could do better with post-flop such as AA. As soon as you have an idea that your opponent is folding more than 50% of his hands you should start opening much wider than the range shown here.
This covers the basic reasoning behind the default starting ranges I use and should help anyone who is struggling with pre-flop open decisions.