Are you familiar with positional, range, and nut advantages in poker?
Using these concepts to shape your postflop strategy will help you make more money in advantageous situations and limit your losses in disadvantageous ones.
In this article, you will learn about each of these concepts and how exactly they should impact your strategy. Let's start with what you probably already know...
What is Positional Advantage?
Positional advantage refers to the strategic advantage of getting to act last on each street.
Why is positional advantage important?
Information is power (and profit) in poker. The fact that a player gets to act last on any given street is advantageous because he will have more information available to him as he makes his decisions.
Using your positional advantage correctly will allow you bluff-catch, value bet, and bluff more effectively.
What is Range Advantage?
The player whose range has the most equity has a range advantage.
Why is range advantage important?
Range advantage is important because, as your range advantage gets larger, you can bet profitably at a higher frequency. If your advantage is large enough, it allows you to use a high-frequency bet strategy to put pressure on the other player’s range.
Let’s say I raise on the Button and you call in the Big Blind. I start with a range advantage because my preflop range is stronger than yours, and this range advantage almost always carries over to the flop.
My Button raising range will have around 54% equity against your Big Blind calling range before the flop in this spot. Here are the ranges I estimated for each of us:
On some boards, my range advantage will increase, such as:
- A♣ K♦ Q♠ >56%
- Q♥ J♣ T♦ >56%
- K♦ Q♠ T♣ >56%
- K♣ J♦ 4♥ >55%
- Q♥ T♣ 3♦ >55%
On other boards, your range will pick up some equity, though it will rarely be enough to take the lead. Here are a few such boards:
- 9♣ 7♠ 5♥ <54%
- 7♦ 5♠ 5♥ <54%
- 8♠ 7♦ 6♣ <54%
- 7♥ 6♣ 4♦ <52%
- 6♠ 4♠ 3♦ <51%
The pattern is pretty clear: Higher boards favor the Button’s range while lower boards favor the Big Blind’s range.
Pop quiz: Whose range would gain equity if the flop came J♠ 3♦ 2♦? My range on the Button or your range in the Big Blind?
Significant range advantages are also common when the Small Blind or Big Blind 3-bets and the initial raiser calls. In those situations, the 3-bettor will usually be right to use an aggressive, high-frequency c-betting strategy.
The preflop aggressor doesn’t always have the range advantage though...
When a player raises preflop and gets cold-called by a player that has position on him, the cold-caller will usually have the range advantage. This is because the cold-caller’s range should be pretty tight and strong given that he called with players behind him that can squeeze him out of the pot.
The preflop raiser will have more super strong hands (JJ+, AK), but these will often times be outweighed by the many missed hands in his range.
What is Nut Advantage?
A player has a nut advantage when he has more combinations of super strong hands (two-pair or better) than his opponent.
Why is nut advantage important?
Nut advantage is important because it dictates how big a player can bet or raise in a given situation. The player with a nut advantage should use very large sizes in order to try to stack his opponent when value betting -- and to apply maximum pressure when bluffing.
Let’s say you raise on the Button and I call in the Big Blind. The flop is dealt A♠ K♦ 5♠.
In this situation, you have every combination of AK, KK, and AA while I have none. So, you should bet very large to give yourself a chance to stack me by the river. My hands are tied as a result; I can either call you down with a sensible range or over-fold, which allows you to bluff me super-profitably. In other words, I have to choose between getting stacked often or getting bluffed often.
The preflop aggressor doesn’t always have a nut advantage. If the board was low and connected in the example above, the Big Blind will often have the nut advantage. Unsurprisingly, these are the same boards that favored the Big Blind in the range advantage section:
- 9♣ 7♠ 5♥
- 7♦ 5♠ 5♥
- 8♠ 7♦ 6♣
- 7♥ 6♣ 4♦
- 6♠ 4♠ 3♦
There is overlap because nut advantage influences range advantage. When your range has more nutted hands with 80%+ equity, your total equity is increased because of those outliers.
On these low, connected boards, the Button should use a less aggressive c-betting strategy. Otherwise, he runs the risk of getting exploited by frequent check-raises from the Big Blind, who will oftentimes have a strong hand.
When both players have close to the same number of nut combinations, neither player’s strategy should be altered.
Note: At lower stakes, due to much higher rake, the Big Blind is forced to defend with fewer off-suit combinations. This means that, unless the Button opened for a min-raise, the Big Blind will not have such a big nut advantage on those low boards. (All of this assumes that the player in the Big Blind is attempting to play a solid strategy preflop.)
These concepts are at the root of all poker decisions. Be sure to take them into account and build your strategies accordingly.
That’s all for this article! I hope you enjoyed it and that you’ve found it useful! As usual, if you have any questions or feedback, don’t hesitate to use the comment section down below!
Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!
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