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StrategyPoker Basics

Ranges & Equity (1): Introduction to Ranges

If you knew your opponent's hand, then you would be able to make the perfect decision in every situation. Unfortunately, this is impossible as you will hardly ever be able to definitively put your opponent on one specific hand. Instead, you can rely on your knowledge, your experience and your observations to put your opponent on a number of possible hands. We call this collection of hands his range.

A range is therefore a set of hands that a player could be holding in a certain situation. This compilation of hands could be a number of single starting hands, but it could also be made of certain hand ranks such as two pairs, sets and flush draws.

If your opponent has a set on a T84 board, his range is: TT, 88, 44.

The concept of ranges is an essential tool if you want to play poker successfully. It allows you to systematically write down assumptions about your opponent's possible hands  in order to analyse them. What's more, it is an indispensable instrument to help you in identifying the best course of action.

This lesson will show you how to define ranges and how to write them down following a generally accepted convention.

A range is a collection of hands that a player could be holding in a certain situation!

Defining ranges and writing them down: how does it work and what's the point?

In order to analyse a hand, you have to write down and summarise the opponent's range in a way that makes it possible to evaluate it using poker software, like the Equilab.

There is a general convention on how to note ranges down. Knowing and applying it will offer you the following advantages:

  • You can exchange information with fellow poker players more easily when, for example, you are studying hands.
  • You can identify the probability that your opponent has a certain type of hand (such as flush draws, sets and top pairs) more quickly.
  • Analysing ranges with tools like the Equilab is more straightforward; you can work faster and in a more precise manner.

The following table offers you an overview of the various hand types and how to write them down:

Notation of ranges
Hand category Example range Example range notation
All pairs
22, 33, 44, ..., AA
A sequence of consecutive pairs 44, 55, 66, 77
A sequence of suited connectors 65s, 76s, 87s, 98s,
T9s, JTs, QJs, KQs, AKs
A sequence of suited hands 74s, 75s, 76s 74s+
All combinations including an ace A2s, ..., AKs,
A2o, ..., AKo
All combinations of suited aces A2s, ..., AKs A2s+
All combinations of offsuit kings K2o, K3o, ..., KQo, AKo
AKo, K2o+
A sequence of suited one-gappers 86s, 97s, T8s, J9s, QTs, KJs, AQs AQs-86s
Top x% of the strongest starting hands 5%
88+, AJs+, KQs, AKo

There are two rules for the notation of ranges:

For card sequences with one or more gaps between the lowest and highest card applies: only the smaller card grows in ascending order until it's directly adjacent to the bigger card. For example, a range of 96+ comprises 96, 97 and 98.

However, for hands with directly adjacent cards without a gap, like 65+, both cards will grow in ascending order until they reach AK i.e. 65, 76, 87, ..., AK.

Ranges can be given relative to hand strength. If this is the case, then the range will change to reflect hand combinations in relation to the board. Suppose that you believe your opponent may have a flush draw, his range would not simply indicate the starting hand but also a concrete suit.

Examples for defining and writing down ranges

The examples will allow you to practice detecting your opponent's range and writing it down.

Example 1:
The board is QsTh2s and your opponent's range is made up of top pairs, OESDs (open-ended straight draws) and ace-high flush draws. How do you build his range from this information?

First, you write down the hand combinations that reflect the various hand ranks:

Top pair: AQ, KQ, Q9-Q3, QJ (Q2 and QT can be discarded as they would be a two pair)
Flush draw: As3s, As4s, As5s, As6s, As7s, As8s, As9s, AsTs, AsJs, AsKs

His complete range thus is: AQ, KQ, Q3-Q9, QJ, As3s, As4s, As5s, As6s, As7s, As8s, As9s, AsTs, AsJs, AsKs, KJ, J9

Example 2: You might have heard an experienced player answering a question like "With which range would the opponent call on this flop?" as following:

“The Flop was Qh9d4c; I bet big and he calls. He was very passive, so he will call all of his sets and never raise them. I can however exclude QQ, because he would have pushed it pre-flop; same goes for AA and KK. I also don't see him folding his good top pairs. His range should include top two pair, too. I'm also positive that he would call his open-ended straight draw. When it comes to TT and JJ, I'm not completely sure, but I think he will probably also call those at least once on the flop.“

Having read this statement, you should now be able to turn it into a complete range. According to the convention that you now know, you can write down the opponent's calling range as follows:

Sets: 99, 44
Good top pairs:
Top-Two pair:
Specific Hands:

 Combining this, you find the following complete range: JJ-99, 44, AQ, KQ, Q9+, JT


  • Ranges are made up of a number of hands that an opponent could be holding.
  • There is a generally accepted notation to write down ranges.
  • Writing down ranges allows you to exchange information with other players and use software to analyse your hands more easily.
  • Analysing ranges allows you to make better decisions.

Next steps

Take the quiz and test your understanding of this lesson.
Start the quiz
Discuss this lesson or ask your questions in the forum.

Comments (39)

#1 genia2q, 10 Jul 13 16:46

That was very difficult to understand I still have difficulties to memorise it, I will have to come back and refresh my memory on this,thank you.

#2 mamorys9, 14 Sep 13 19:37


#3 yuli06, 10 Nov 13 13:57

I dont understand

#4 DARKHADOU12, 14 Nov 13 07:33

Read it over and over until you understand. It will become clear eventually :)

#5 rebelbhoy67, 10 Jul 14 20:17


#6 NextChamp, 13 Sep 14 05:07

There were some things I didn't know...thanks a lot

#7 tashaleigh3, 09 Oct 14 10:01


#8 catblank, 14 Oct 14 09:00


#9 Dedees89, 20 Oct 14 01:27

Ill never play A7-A8

#10 BenBlakeIsTilting, 14 Nov 14 04:39


#11 istrici, 15 Nov 14 12:01

good info

#12 Anessus, 03 Dec 14 11:57


#13 Czerw666, 17 Dec 14 09:33

k prikladu 1: hned v uvodu je napsano ze ta range se sklada i ze setu, tudiz by tam melo by i QQ, TT a 22 (jestli to spravne chapu ...)

#14 PokarFace, 15 Jul 15 23:23

I got 4 out of 8 just by watching the video. I'm reading the article now, haha.

#15 FlyingDutchm1n, 10 Oct 15 22:42

Wow really good I completely missed the poker basics folder on pokerstrategy, but there are some absolute gems in there. Crazy that this is poker basics these days, when I started out my basics were how to calculate pot odds and outs and stuff when I started playing I unfortunately did not have the benefit of immediately learning how to think in terms of ranges from the get go (I didn't even know what a "range" was when I started out) so I had to get the hold of this later which is working but always more difficult as another, settled form of thinking now has to be replaced ...

#16 gohomeman2690, 31 Oct 15 15:23


#17 6attitude9, 08 Nov 15 21:28

got it

#18 thalead, 20 Nov 15 13:45

it is all about instincts..

#19 Phicube, 29 Dec 15 05:59

#3, is really not easy to get at the 1st try. But it is worth u do. In the end it's mostly what you do at the tables to perfect your play. There is just that many hands that can beat yours. Does your opponent hold'em?

#20 jaskob93, 13 Jan 16 15:09


#21 bubamarasr, 20 Jan 16 18:09

Read it. Thank you.

#22 setyaida, 25 Jan 16 11:04

He He ok

#23 ptpokermyth, 26 Feb 16 16:32

very good

#24 Nhoxalone, 10 Mar 16 10:24

cảm ơn bạn

#25 sedinbsng, 01 Apr 16 19:05


#26 pharaonsgold, 07 Apr 16 00:35


#27 fapaja, 26 Apr 16 08:25

Agree with #15 - Stuff like this wasn't exactly basic back in 2009...
Great article!

#28 CroZoZo, 26 Apr 16 13:19


#29 brevik78, 29 Apr 16 07:18

Nice video, and a good start to learn to understand "cardreading" to do the right choise.

#30 TetonSouix, 16 May 16 02:19

I like that explanation,,,

#31 Nicbers800, 17 May 16 02:58


#32 ggium, 21 May 16 06:12

can deceptive player can possibly wreak havoc in assessing hand ranges? thanks

#33 Tezza459, 25 May 16 15:22

I enjoy being on this site because I have been learning so much about Poker and is making me a wiser gambler

#34 armorrrat, 08 Jun 16 18:06

Lot's of info, trying to wrap my mind around it. will have to come back to this one. Good work!

#35 Robinsko, 09 Aug 16 18:07


#36 Robinsko, 09 Aug 16 18:07


#37 mcvarga, 12 Apr 17 00:19

Great introduction to range indentification! I will use this to put it into action while studying.

#38 celso75, 02 Feb 18 05:20


#39 fickodejan, 26 Mar 18 09:15