Understanding Importance of Board Coverage in Hold’em – Top Tips from Upswing Poker
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The concept of board coverage is relatively new, and you may not have had a chance to come across it before.
In a nutshell, board coverage is a term used to describe how a particular range of hands will interact with different boards across various flops, turns, and rivers.
A good example to illustrate the point is a situation where your hand range is likely to contain a lot of big pocket pairs like aces and kings. If your range contains only these hands, it will never interact well with medium and low connected boards like 8♥6♦5♣.
By the same logic, if your range consists of big pocket pairs, high cards, and also some suited connectors, it will have a much better board coverage across different boards, be it K♣K♥7♦ or something like 9♠7♥5♦.
Why Is the Concept of Board Coverage Important?
You might be wondering why the idea of board coverage is so important. And, at the lowest of stakes, it might not be that big of a deal.
However, as you move up and come across tougher opponents, they’ll be able to use this concept to exploit you in certain situations (and vice-versa, of course).
Simply put, if your range never contains very strong hands on a particular board texture, your opponents can use this knowledge to bet big and force you to fold your cards as they know you never have a nutted poker hand.
To be able to do this, your opponent would, of course, need to have a deep understanding of your ranges in certain spots and positions.
But with that knowledge, they’d be able to bluff much more efficiently, extract more value with their strong hand, and significantly improve the expected value of their hands.
Board Coverage in Practice – How Much Does It Really Matter?
For your opponents to be able to exploit you, they’d need to perfectly know your strategy. The idea of board coverage matters only if you can put a player on particular ranges – otherwise, you’re just guessing.
In practice, it’s really hard for anyone to have that deep of an understanding of your strategy.
That said, as the overall player pool gets smaller and the quality of players in it improves, the more important this whole concept becomes.
If you constantly find yourself in games with 10 to 20 same players who play on a high level, you’ll need to study and understand board coverage as they’ll study your game, dissect your ranges, and exploit your tendencies.
If you predominantly play in micro and low-stakes games against hundreds or even thousands of different opponents, this is probably not nearly as important.
This is an interesting and advanced concept that you should have in mind when playing against thinking players.
If you’re up against the players who themselves couldn’t tell you what their ranges are in certain positions even if they wanted, you won’t be able to apply it, and they most certainly won’t be able to recognize and exploit your tendencies.
If you’d like to learn more about board coverage and its practical application (including a detailed example created using solvers), check out the full Upswing article.