Texas Holdem Poker Hands Example
Poker Hand Outline:
Folds to BTN who opens to 2.25BB, SB folds, BB calls
Flop (5BB) A♣ J♦ 9♥
BB checks, BTN bets 3.5BB, BB calls.
Turn (12BB) 6♠
BB checks, BTN bets 9BB, BB calls.
River (30BB) 2♣
BB checks, BTN bets 22BB, BB calls.
STEP 1. Let’s start by analyzing preflop ranges
These are the poker hands that PokerSnowie suggests opening in a 100BB deep 6max cash game, so let’s consider it in this example. And for the sake of easier visualization, I made BB defending range with Poker Equilab, so that you would not have to consider mixed strategies with various hands, which is not important at the moment.
Light blue – poker hands that your opponent is likely to call most of the time.
Dark blue – poker hands that should be in 3betting range for the most part, but many players choose to call it.
Unmarked – either value 3bets or poker hands that going to be folded most of the time.
Learning what ranges you should be playing is quite easy, and actually, there are quite a few options for that. You can either grab my Texas Holdem preflop charts or get a free trial of PokerSnowie and make charts for yourself.
When you know which poker hands should be opened from every position and how to play against that, visualizing preflop ranges will be very easy and you can move forward to postflop.
STEP 2. Reduce his likely holdings based on flop action
The second step is to reduce likely holdings based on the flop action.
Firstly, you should be aware which boards are better for preflop raiser and which ones for the caller. This way, you will be able to know how often each of the players is going to bet and I highly recommend spending some time to learn this.
You can simply input preflop poker hands into PokerEquilab and see who has the range advantage.
As you see, this board clearly favors the BTN range. Moreover, the player on the button has more nut type hands, such as AA, JJ, 99 and even AJ. The big blind would be 3betting these holdings most of the time, therefore won’t have it when he simply calls preflop.
Taking that into consideration, it is clear that BTN should be c-betting very aggressively. This is how Pio solver thinks BTN should be playing in this situation.
Obviously, an optimal strategy always involves a lot of mixed play with the same poker hands, meaning that some of the time you have to bet and some of the time you have to check same holdings. Thus, it is quite hard to remember and implement in practice.
Therefore, for the sake of this discussion, let’s summarize BTN range and make it a bit easier to understand which poker hands you or your opponent should be betting in this spot.
Flop c-betting range: Sets, two pairs, most top pairs, 2nd pairs, 3rd pairs, low pocket pairs, open-enders, all gut-shots, runner-runner flush draws.
On this board, your normal bet size should be on the bigger side and vary from around 2/3 of the pot to 75%.
Facing such a bet, a player on the big blind should defend these poker hands:
As you see, the big blind strategy is much easier.
Big blind should be defending when facing c-bet: any pair or better (excluding low pocket pairs), open-enders and gut-shots.
This is how you should be playing the vast majority of your Texas Holdem poker hands and learning how theoretically sound strategy looks is a must to reach long term success.
STEP 3. Taking into consideration bet sizing and stats of your opponent
You can easily make adjustments based on your opponent tendencies when you know how optimal range looks.
For example on this board of A♣ J♦ 9♥, BTN should e c-betting around 66% of the hands according to PIO solver, but if you are playing online and have stats that your opponent is c-betting way less or way more than he should, you can easily adjust your ranges to counter that. However, if you do not have such info, sticking to an optimal strategy that is suggested by these tools is the best way to go.
Same thought process could be taking for using different bet sizing. If your opponent bets huge on this board, like POT or even more, you can remove many holdings from his standard betting range.
When players bet very big, they tend to have very polarized ranges full of made hands, strong draws and total air.
Thus, you can easily remove hands like top pair without a good kicker, second or third pair from your opponent's range. Taking some practice and learning how to put your opponent on a precise range of poker hands will take some time, but when you learn how to do that, you will become an extremely tough player.
STEP 4. Put your opponent on different poker hands based on Turn and River cards
You have to follow a similar thoughts process for later streets as well. You should understand which hands BTN has to be betting and BB should be defending based on the Turn and River, in order to build a strong strategy.
No matter what the Turn is, big blind should be checking all of his poker hands.
Let’s say Turn is 6♠. In this case, BTN should be betting around 56% of all his poker hands, but if the turn is T♠, then BTN should be betting way more hands – around 76%
So obviously, defending ranges from the big blind will look differently as well and the player should be continuing with different poker hands based on the Turn card and opponent's action.
As you see, different runouts suggest a different line of action, so you need to understand which card favors one range or another and study how that changes your approach.
All of this process should be applied to the river as well.
Let’s say the Turn was 6♠ and now we see 2♣ on the River.
Obviously, big blind should be checking all of his holdings, including the best poker hands one more time and BTN should be betting like this.
At first look, BTN strategy could look quite strange because we are not only betting our best poker hands, such as two pair or better but also firing few one pair hands like AK and A7 alongside our bluffs with good blockers. But all of that is needed and will help you to become a tougher player.
After such bet the big blind should respond accordingly by calling two pairs+ and some one-pair bluff catchersin order not to be exploited.
This is how the whole process of analyzing poker hands looks. I will repeat myself one more time, but in order to learn how to put your opponent on a range, you must learn how balance strategies look. This way, you will know what to expect from your opponent's and how to play yourself in any given situation.