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Range Balancing

Evan Jarvis

categories Concepts
  Photo Credit:  Ross Elliott  | Flickr

  Photo Credit: Ross Elliott | Flickr

In a game of imperfect information, range balancing can sway this lack of hard data in your favour by making it difficult for your opponent to get a handle on your holdings. Simply put, an opponent who can’t narrow down your range is an opponent who can’t play strategically against you.

How Range Balancing Works

Range balancing involves playing the same way with an expansive range of hands in particular situations. There are two ways to balance your range: 

  1. You can play hands of the same strength different ways
  2. You can play hands of different strengths the same way

Think about continuation betting - probably the most common kind of range balancing. Making a continuation bet on the flop at least 2/3rds of the time probably means you're betting with a pretty wide range of hands. This range of hands - from complete air to made hands - means that as far as your opponent is concerned, you could have just about anything, meaning your range is balanced. If you are only playing a certain kind or strength of hand in certain situations, on the other hand, your range would be unbalanced and as a result, you're predictable - and if you're predictable, you're easier to read and if you're easy to read, you're easy to beat. Not what you're aiming for, right?

Remember, you want your opponent to make mistakes. 

When Range Balancing Works

Learning how to balance your range is pretty easy. The real question is when. It all comes down to your opponent. 

While range balancing is not difficult, it is only going to be effective against more advanced, skilled players. A novice player won't even be thinking about something as in-depth as your hand range; they'll only be thinking about their hand and how they are going to play it. Even though they should be thinking about what you're holding, they won't be. 

For newer players, their strategy is usually limited to keeping their heads above water. As a result, you won't need to concern yourself with range balancing against these opponents. If you notice your opponent is consistently folding to your bluffs or semi-bluffs when you check-raise, for instance, then you don't really have to worry about balancing your range by check-raising with good hands.  It’s wasted effort.  Save your energy for more advanced opponents.