When we talk about preflop opening ranges, we’re usually talking about purely linear ranges. We start at pocket Aces, and work our way down in construction. There’s never really a reason to raise a worse hand but fold a better one, but there are some contexts in which a hand becomes better or worse.
For example, in a tournament, our preflop raising range at 30bb stacks might include fewer small pairs and suited connectors, and a greater portion of Ace-highs and broadways. But this isn’t really us deliberately folding better hands; we’re just changing the definition of what constitutes a better hand.
Preflop raising ranges are also uncapped, and bounded, given that we never have the absolute bottom of the deck in our range when we open-raise.
Our 3-betting ranges can be linear or polarized depending on what context. The conditions of a situation will dictate whether we choose a linear range that possesses good board coverage and contains many types of hands, or a polarized one that includes clear value and clear bluffs.
Generally our 3-bet range will be more linear as stacks get deeper, and more polarized as stacks get shallower. In addition, we’ll usually have a robust flat-calling range in any spot where our 3-bets are more polarized.
Our 4-betting ranges are almost always going to be polarized, so that we don’t find ourselves in tough spots when we get shoved on.
3-bet and 4-bet ranges are almost always uncapped, since the natural assumption is that we will 3-bet or 4-bet our strongest hands, given the opportunity. They are also bounded, since we don’t 3-bet or 4-bet with trashy hands. The range with which we, or our opponent, may call a 3-bet or 4-bet will often be somewhat capped, but it will also be bounded. Since any range that is simultaneously capped and bounded contains mostly middle-strength hands, we can also describe a call vs 3-bet range as condensed. Similarly, our flat-calling ranges versus a preflop open will usually be condensed.
We’ll never really plan to employ a randomized range preflop. You could go your entire poker career without putting money in the pot with 7-2 offsuit and still be a huge winner. In fact, if you play deep-stacked cash games, you could probably still be a huge winner even if you always folded every hand in the bottom 70% of the deck.
Not playing trashy hands doesn’t make you a nit, or even a TAG player. It makes you a better player.
And so concludes this lesson and this course. As you build out your preflop strategies, come back and review these topics. You will rarely win a pot postflop without understanding why, and how, you got there.