Whether you are new to poker or just looking for pre-flop range advice on which hands to play in certain situations, you have come to the right place. I have been playing and winning at poker since 2008 and have put together some charts for you. The chart will work well both online and live, in cash games and tournaments.
In order to make things simple, I have given you an easy to read, yet comprehensive, range chart that covers virtually every pre-flop decision you could face at the poker table. If you want, you can then tweak the ranges to either suit your style of play or match the nature of the games you play in.
For your convenience, I have also included a printable PDF. You can either put the image under your tables while you play online poker or print it off to practice with in live poker.
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What Games Do These Charts Work In?
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These charts were specifically designed for 100 big blind stacks in cash games. However, they will still work well in any game, tournament or cash, where the effective stack size is between 50 and 250 big blinds. If stack sizes get below 50 big blinds, you will need to switch to a mid or short stack strategy.
Incidentally, I am a short and mid-stack specialist. If you are interested in getting a free full basic strategy that includes both pre-flop and post-flop, sign up for my newsletter. I will instantly email you the free comprehensive strategy.
How to Use the Charts
Here are the instructions on how to use the charts. If you follow this 3-step process, you can’t go wrong.
- Use the far left column to determine the situation
- Move down the row to the right and find the column that corresponds with your position at the table.
- Execute the action with the range and sizing (if applicable) found in the appropriate box.
Now, let’s delve a bit deeper into how to use the charts.
Understanding the Hand Range Shorthand
To save space on the charts, I use a common hand range shorthand. It may take a bit to master, but once you do you will appreciate the simplicity.
Here are the guidelines:
- If applicable, pairs come first. You will either see a single pair, like 66 for example. This means 66+ and includes all pairs from 66 up to AA. If you see a range, like 88-JJ, that means 88, 99, TT, and JJ.
- If you see a single hand listed, it includes both suited and unsuited and all hands greater. For example, X9 is all non-pair hands where the kicker is at least a 9. This would include K9s+, Q9s+, J9s+, T9s+, T9s, K9o+, Q9o+, J9o+, T9o+, and T9o+.
- XJT means all hands with an unsuited kicker Jack or better and all suited hands with a Ten kicker or better. So 55+, ATs+, ATo+, KTs+, KJo+, QTs+, QJo , JTs
Example #1: 66, AJT, XQT
Example #2: 66-TT, AJT, XQJ
Example #3: QQ, AK, A5s-A2s, T9s-87s
Choosing the Correct Ranges
You will notice the positions are separated into columns. Once you establish your position at the table, you use the appropriate column and find the row that fits the situation.
What Each Row is For
- The “Open Raise” row is used if action folds to you and the pot has not been raised.
- The “4-bet” and “Call 3-Bet” rows are used if you have open raised and been 3-bet. If you do not have a hand that falls into the ranges listed, you fold.
- The “3-bet” and “Call Raise” rows are used if an opponent open-raises from EP or MP. If you get 4-bet, shove KK (in bold). Fold the rest.
- The “Resteal” and “Call Steal” rows are used if an opponent has open-raised from the CO or BTN. To further clarify. A steal is an open raise from the CO, BTN, or SB regardless of hand strength. It’s all about the position, not the actual hand. If you get 4-bet, shove the hands in bold, Fold the rest.
Sizing Raises and Reraises
The raise size is listed, when appropriate. The sizing is based on the number of big blinds or the current raise size.
- For open raising, if you see 3x that means 3 times the big blind. So, if the big blind is .50, you would raise to $1.50.
- For reraising, sizing is based on the raise size. For example, if an opponent open raises to 3 big blinds and you are supposed to 3-bet 4x, you would reraise to 12 big blinds.
Consider aggressive actions first
As you move down the chart looking for the correct range to use, always do an aggressive action first if your hand is included in a range. You should only perform a passive action after exhausting the possibility of an aggressive one.
For example, let’s say you have AK while seated in the Small Blind. You open 2.5 times the big blind and get 3-bet to 10 big blinds. You can either 4-bet, call, or fold. AK falls within both the 4-betting and calling ranges. The aggressive action is to 4-bet, so you reraise to 25 times the big blind, as per the chart.
If there are limpers in front of you, I recommend isolating (ISO) your normal raise size plus 1bb per limper with your entire Middle Position range. Versus one limper who is an obvious bad player (fish), you can isolate even wider with your entire Cutoff range.
The exception is in the blinds. I recommend isolating with your Early Position range only. The positional disadvantage warrants tightening up.
How Did You Come up With These Ranges?
The ranges in my pre-flop charts are based on sound theory and practical experience. It will help both novice and experienced players tidy up their game quite a bit if they’ve never had much formal poker training.
Opening Ranges are based on the concept of variable positional ranges, or more commonly known as being positionally aware. Calling, 3-betting, and 4-betting ranges are based on the “gap concept” which states that you generally need a better hand to call (or reraise) a raise than to make an initial raise yourself.
While the gap concept has lost a bit of merit somewhat over the years and decisions are now based more on the EV of a play, it still holds true for the exercise of range building.
Let’s talk a bit more about how opening ranges are built.
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The Concept Of Variable Positional Ranges
Deciding which hands to include in your standard open raising range from various positions is determined mostly by what your position will likely be after the flop. The earlier your position the more likely someone behind you will have a premium hand. Also, if you get called, you are more likely to be playing out of position. These are the reasons you play more tightly UTG than you do on the button.
Hands played out of position that are not profitable, suddenly become winners when played in position. As a result, our entire opening range should be geared toward playing more hands in position than our opponents and fewer hands out of position. Therefore, as we get closer to the button our opening frequency should steadily increase. Let’s go through each seat one by one.
Under the gun you should have the tightest opening range of all. If called, you will likely be out of position for the rest of the hand. A typical UTG range will open raise between 10% and 18% of hands.
In the hijack, you still have a lot of players to act behind you. You can adjust your range slightly more because now you only have two people standing between you and the button. But overall, you still need to play fairly tightly from this position. A typical HJ opening range is between 14% and 22% of hands.
What a difference one position can make. In the cutoff you only have one person standing between you and the button. Your third widest opening range will typically be from this position. Cutoff opening ranges usually fall in between 25% and 35%.
The ultimate seat. On the button you have power. Most players have their widest opening range from this position. For us, our second most wide opening range is from here. It is usually a mistake to not open raise at least 35% from this position. Personally, I typically raise about 55% of hands on average, when seated on the button.
You are guaranteed to be out of position for every post-flop hand you play from the Small Blind. However, you can still often open raise a wide range from this position, since you only have one player left to act behind you. I have open raised as high as 100% from the SB in the past, but currently only open about 65% of hands in this spot.
Does not apply, you can never open raise from the Big Blind.
The Gap Concept
When it comes to deciding on what ranges to call or reraise with, the gap concept is a useful tool. Basically, in order for a call or reraise to be profitable, you need to consider how wide (or narrow) your opponents’ range is.
Generally, you will use a tighter range to counter your opponent. So, if he open raises 20%, you might 3-bet mostly value hands, something like big pairs and maybe AK. However, if your opponent open raises wide, like 50% plus, you might 3-bet as wide as 20% to 30%.
The exact range and how you structure the range largely depends on your fold equity and what type of opponent you face. Before I get too complicated with this, I point you in the direction of my poker strategy guide. While it won’t get into all the finer points of range building in detail, it will help you understand where the money comes from and give you a good foundation from which to build.
What About Post-Flop?
If you like the way these charts are designed you may also want to check out my free short stacking strategy guide. I provide full basic ranges for 20 to 50bb play and even include a chart that tells you exactly what to do post-flop.
Just sign up for my spam-free newsletter and I’ll send it over.
I hope these charts serve you well at the tables. Just remember that they are not a panacea and you will have to spend time learning strategy and how to adjust to your opponents. Even so, the ranges are much better than just going it alone with no guide at all.
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Am I guaranteed to win using these charts?
No. However, if you do not have a lot of experience or are currently a losing player, it is very likely that you will perform better at the table using these charts rather than just winging it.
Why should I trust your charts over someone else’s?
These charts are based on sound theory and over 10 years of experience. There may very well be a better pre-flop chart out there, but if there is, I haven’t seen it. I am well-known for creating easy to read charts for short and mid-stack players. In fact, my short stacking system has been proven to turn losing players into instant winners at the micro-stakes (and sometimes higher). What other poker systems can claim that?
Why would you give this information for free???
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I want to lift the level of play for everyone. My goal is for it to become common knowledge that poker is a game of skill. As you know, many legislators still treat poker players as second class citizens. I want to bring poker out of the shadows and see that it gets regulated properly. So that enthusiasts like me can enjoy the freedom to play anywhere and anytime we want.
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For more, don’t miss Complete Texas Hold’em Strategy Guide How To Play Poker.