Random Poker Thoughts

 photo RobinHoods: Fulltime cash game player. Hover around NL100 all formats
Range Manipulation

I played a hand today that is a good example of a concept that I feel many winning players have no grasp off, especially below NL200 - Range Manipulation.

First lets start with some player profiles and history.

We are playing NL100 at 888 on a 9 handed table and my opponent in the hand (I’ll call Mr X) is a very tight but decent enough regular player (14/8 with only 2% 3b and 1% from early position - 8k sample)

I play somewhere around 18/16 - 6% 3bet in a full ring setting and Mr X also knows I can be a little crazy (bordering on maniacal) preflop but is also aware that I am positionally aware and don’t get out of line versus him.

Hand plays like this:

Seat 3 (A bad agressive player) opens for 3bb and Mr X 3bets to 8.5bb in seat 4. It’s folded around to me in the Big Blind and im holding AA.

Now given that I know that Mr X usually flats AK and often QQ here (although given that Seat 3 is bad aggressive I’ll assume he will 3b QQ here sometimes too) I know that his range here is basically QQ,KK and AA.

So whatever I do here doesn’t really matter as I don’t expect Mr X to fold (versus me) whatever 4b size I choose (although I think he should given the positions) although flatting is a little uncomfortable as my equity drops a decent amount if we see the flop 3 way and im out of position. So I decide to 4b small to 20bbs and give Mr X a chance to make a bigger mistake by shoving. Seat 3 folds, Mr X for some unknown reason decides to 5b to 50bbs (which is ridiculous given we are 100bbs deep) I shove and we get all in with me as an  83/17 favorite.

Now this all looks pretty standard but in fact Mr X’s decision to 4b is a huge mistake and here is why.

Given positions and the fact that he is very tight Mr X should be aware that I will fold AK in this spot and either flat or fold QQ. This means my range here is face up to KK or AA. Also he holds two Kings which further reduces the likelihood I have AK a great deal.  But lets assume I’ve gone a little crazy and first add QQ to my range and then AK. -  lets look at the numbers.


Mr X - KK                   49.99%               Mr X -  KK57.2%

Me   - QQ/KK/AA      50.01%                Me -    QQ/KK/AA/AK42.8%

So Mr X is flipping vs my most likely range and a decent favorite if i’ve temporarily lost the plot.

But what happens when he decides to 5b? and especially when he decides to 5b to 50bbs. Well I have no room to bluff shove (which he knows I can do) so now I have no option but to fold AK/QQ and shove KK and AA.

Lets look at the numbers again.


Mr X - KK              22.6%

Me   - QQ/KK/AA 77.4%

Huge difference right! his decision to 5b has manipulated my range to the stage where all he achieves is making me fold worse hands (disaster for him) and shove a range that now drops his equity from a decent favorite to a big underdog. Also given his terrible 5b size he still has to call if off.

This is ‘Range Manipulation’ its the consequence of your actions on your opponents range.

Had he flatted my 4b (seat 3 had already folded by the time the action returns to him) he gets to see the flop in good shape with the option to fold should an Ace or  a Queen appear.

Personally given our history and the fact he is capable of thinking on Level 3 (and know’s I do too) I think folding is the best option but calling is ok too but the decision to 5b really makes no sense.

It’s important to note that the key factors here are our positions, specifically that he is in moderately early position and I am in the BB.  A spot where I'm virtually never going to be bluffing, versus him.


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