Poker Cash Game Pro Guide IV. - Pre-Flop Opening Ranges
Poker Cash Game Pro Guide IV. - Opening Ranges in Texas Hold'em
This article will focus on one thing and one thing only - starting combinations, A.K.A the table of starting hands from each position on the table. These tables do NOT concern with the situation where there is a player raising or limping (just calling the big blind) and we are facing an action. The tables of opening combinations are designed for novice players and are rather tight, because this range of cards is the easiest to play and is best against microstakes opponents.
Another important thing is that we will always open the hand with a raise, preferably 3 Big Blinds. 99.9% of our opens will be raises and we should almost never limp, unless the situation is just perfect, which it almost never is.
Having a solid pre-flop range makes you instantly a fearsome players, who is a lot harder to beat. Deviating from the tables below should always have a reason.
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Important: You don't have to follow these tables extremely strictly. Poker is about profitable situations and if you think your opens can be looser, go for it. On the other hand, your opens sometimes should be tighter. The tables are a good default play from which you definitely should deviate when the situation calls for it.
The following tables are for both 6max and fullring players. If you are a 6max player, simply follow start at the Lo-Jack table, which is an Under the Gun position in 6max.
This position requires very strong holding cards in order to join the game. There are very many players behind and we have no information on any of them whatsoever. We should make up for it with strong holdings and play only premium or very playable starting combinations
This position is pretty much the same as the UTG. 7 players are still behind and good cards are a must.
We may open our range, but only a bit. We still look for playable cards and never bluff.
Lo-Jack (UTG at 6max):
Lo-Jack is an equivalent of 6max UTG. This position allows for a more loose range, but we still don't want to bluff frequently. When there is a fish on the blinds (we will play in position post-flop), we might open our range even more.
Our range is even wider and we broaden our range with broadway cards and A5s-A2s. Low Axs make nut flushes and even very invisible wheels (straights A-5) on low boards. This makes them preferable over let's say A7s, which only makes nut flushes, while the strength of the kicker card is pretty much meaningless.
If you are an experienced player, opening A5s-A2s is definitely possible even from Lo-Jack. However, it requires a solid post-flop play as these cards often get into very sticky situation of having a top pair-no kicker out of position.
This position very much allows for a wide range with a lot of suited connectors (suited cards that are next to each other). There are only 3 players sitting behind, two of whom are out of position after the flop is dealt. Moreover, there is only little chance that any of them actually has anything to compete with our raise.
The only real trouble is the player directly to our left (Button), who is in position for the rest of the hand and might be willing to play very loosely against our raise. This is why our range is still very much in check. If the Button is very tight or very weak, we can open widen our range with creative hands such as Q8s.
The Button is the most profitable position at the poker table. We are sure to be in position post-flop and there only two players behind, who will give up so very often. On the Button, we want to steal the blinds as often as possible and we should widen our range immensely. Some players open any two suited cards, but I wouldn't be that strict, especially if you are not an advanced player.
The better you play, the worse cards you can open, so if you are not that strong post-flop, you should still play only such hands which will make your play comfortable. Being in position helps a lot.
Small Blind is a very peculiar position. On one hand, there is only one player behind, making him less likely to have a strong holding, on the other hand, the Big Blind is in position on every street of the hand, making him more likely to play even with weaker hands.
All in all, I recommend that you open the range from the Hi-Jack, unless the Big Blind is extremely tight.
Summary of Opening Ranges
This table is only very general and should not be followed too strictly. The better you play the more hands you can afford to play profitably from each position. That is why these ranges are very tight and really contain non problematic hands, which should be a lot simpler to play rather than very creative hands, which require good hand-reading skills and a good general overview of the game.
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