This is the sixth part of the free NLHE Foundations Series that I’m running here on FTR. This series is designed to give you a very clear set of tools that will teach you how to study what will really make you a better NLHE poker player. If you want to take part and get updates along with personalized content from me to go along with what you see here, then sign up by posting in the main thread for this course. I’ll send you private messages through the forums, so make sure that you sign up for an account if you don’t already have one.

I want to point out that you should sign up even if you think it’s too late. The reason I say this is that I’ve designed this course for people to work at their own pace, and there are plenty of people signing up at every step of the way. You can just do the exercises for the lessons in order on your own time and take whatever pace you’re comfortable.

With that out of the way, let’s get started on this lesson.

Reading Calling Ranges Pre-Flop

The past couple of parts of this series have been about putting opponents on ranges pre-flop. It’s critical to be able to put people on these ranges accurately before the flop because this is where all of your post-flop ranges will be derived from. In this lesson, we’re going to be working on figuring out what an opponent has when he or she calls pre-flop.

The Relationship to 3-Betting Ranges

When a player faces a raise pre-flop, that player’s calling range will depend heavily on what his 3-betting range looks like, and that’s why we looked at 3-betting ranges in lesson five before coming to calling here in lesson six. There are two basic cases for how the opponent’s 3-betting range will look:

Polarized 3-Betting Range

If a player’s 3-betting range is polarized, that means that there’s a “gap” in the middle. For example, an opponent might 3-bet for value with something like {JJ+, AK} and then 3-bet for a bluff with a few Ax hands and weaker suited hands like K8 or Q9. This “gap” that’s created is more or less where your opponent’s calling range will be coming from.

Depolarized 3-Betting Range

When a player’s 3-betting range is depolarized, that means it’s mostly just one group of hands together at the top of his or her range. One way of looking at it is that they only 3-bet for value, but their range might include more hands than what you’d typically expect for value in your games. This type of player might 3-bet with something like {TT+, AQ+} without a lower bluffing range. In this case, the calling range for the player will be the hands that are directly “below” the 3-betting range in question.

Using Statistics and Other Information

So if you’re going to try to go into your poker database program (see lesson 4 for how to get a 30-day free trial for the two best options available today) and break down an opponent’s calling range, there are a few pieces of information you’re going to take into consideration:

  • A list of hands where you’ve seen the player call a raise pre-flop. This can be broken down into different sections like what we did in the homework for lesson 5.
  • An understanding of what your opponent’s 3-betting range looks like (polarized vs depolarized, and which hands are likely to be in that range).
  • Statistics like cold call % pre-flop from your poker database program.

In the homework for this lesson, we’re going to do just that.

Lesson 6 Homework

For this lesson’s homework, we’re going to build on the homework that we did for lesson 5. What I want you to do is go back and look at the opponent that you focused on in the homework for lesson 5 when you were breaking down 3-betting ranges. Using that information you found as a starting point, I want you to break down what you think his calling ranges are in all of those same situations that we discussed in lesson 5.

  1. Make a list of all of the hands that the opponent called a raise with pre-flop (not counting 3-bets/4-bets/etc).
  2. Break this list down according to position with the different categories we had in lesson 5.
  3. Combine that with the calling stats you have on the opponent and the 3-betting ranges you broke down for lesson 5 to come up with what you estimate his calling ranges to be in each situation.

Post your homework for lesson 6 in this thread.

Jesse Eddleman is a gambling writer with over ten years of experience in the industry, and he has written for and many other top online portals. You can learn more about him at and read his book on Amazon.
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Putting Opponents on Pre-Flop Ranges (Part 3)
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