The Range Switch

The advice in this chapter is very read specific and can be dangerous if misapplied. When in doubt, fold bad hands preflop.

If you’re confident that your opponent is giving up whenever you have a big hand, there’s a simple solution—don’t have a big hand. This chapter is purely theoretical; the conditions that would need to exist for the advice in this chapter to be a good idea are incredibly specific and generally only the best players are capable of creating them.

Here’s the basic idea: from the blinds, we have a Polarized 3-betting Range. Our opponent knows this (already a sign that we should start switching back to a Strong Range). Because our opponent knows that we’re flatting hands like KQ and AJ in the blinds, he has begun to give up anytime the board comes down J, Q, K, or A high. Unfortunately for us, this means every time we flop top pair with KQ or AJ we’re getting no action. Some coaches recommend donking in this situation (“if your opponent stops c-betting, start donking!”). Unfortunately donking doesn’t solve the problem—our opponent knows we smashed the flop, he’s giving up no matter what line we take.

So how can we make money against a guy who never bluffs when we have a good hand? As I said before—don’t have a big hand. Let’s say that I open the button with Q6s and my opponent calls in the BB. I know that he has a Polarized 3betting Range and so he’s likely to flat with broadway cards. So, I give up whenever the board is KJ5 but I barrel anytime the board is 743. If my opponent were to flat with 76s instead of KQ, though, I could get myself into a lot of trouble giving up on KJ5 and barreling 743.

Here’s another example: With 100bb, my opponent raises in the CO, and I 3bet AK. He 4bets me to 22bb and I flat OOP (to keep his weak range in play, as discussed before). The flop comes down KJ5—I check, he checks. The turn is a blank, I bet and he folds. Same action preflop, the flop comes down 743. I check, he checks. The turn is a blank, I bet, and he folds. He’s simply giving up every time he sees that preflop action because he knows I have a strong hand. What should I do?

The Range Switch: If you’ve been flatting strong hands and raising weak hands (a Polarized Range), and your opponent has adjusted (giving up against strong hands, firing on boards unlikely to hit you), then switch your ranges. Start raising your strong hands and flatting your weak hands. Suddenly, everything becomes easy—your opponents give up when you miss and bet when you hit.

Before you start flatting 76s OOP in a 4bet pot with 100bb, remember that your read has to be fantastic. Most players can’t resist putting out that c-bet bluff or that thin value-bet with a weak top pair. If they do, ignore this chapter and follow the advice of the previous one—flat strong hands and either bluffraise your weak hands preflop or just fold them. However, just like rock-paper-scissors, every action in poker has a reaction that defeats it. This chapter should help keep you one step ahead of your toughest, observant, most challenging opponents.

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