ranging practice

How to Practice Ranging Your Opponents (Cash Game Example)

Putting your opponent on an accurate range of hands is arguably the most valuable skill in poker.

In this video/article, cash game pro Tim Jenkins uses the new Lucid GTO Cash Game Trainer to show you how to practice your ranging skills against a poker solver.

Ranging is when you assign a range of possible hands to an opponent based on how the hand has played out so far. GTO stands for Game Theory Optimal, which refers to the theoretically best strategy in a given situation.

Let’s dive into the hand that Tim breaks down in the video.

Setting Up the Scenario in Lucid

You can set up a “Custom Drill” for any common poker scenario within the Lucid GTO Trainer. The idea is that you can hone in on a specific situation and practice it again and again, which allows you to quickly improve your skills in that scenario.

In the video, Tim sets up a Custom Drill for one of the most common spots in poker: a Button vs Big Blind confrontation in a single raised pot.

Tim chooses to play as the Big Blind. His plan is to play hands methodically and practice ranging his solver-generated opponent after every decision.

Let’s run through the hand.


The player on the Button raises to 2.5 big blinds (bb). Tim calls from the Big Blind position.

The stacks to start the hand are 100bb, so each player has 97.5bb behind going into the flop.


The flop comes with 5bb in the pot.

Tim is dealt for this Drill, so he’s flopped a gutshot straight draw and an overcard.

Tim checks and the opponent bets 1.5bb (30% pot).

Flop Analysis

Before making his decision, Tim guesses that the solver prefers this small bet size because it effectively targets the weak ace-high, king-high, and queen-high hands in Tim’s range.

In other words, when Tim faces this small size, he will be in a difficult spot right away with a hand like or . Those high card hands are ahead of the bluffs in the opponent’s range, but they’re well behind any of the made hands.

With his exact hand of , Tim expects call to be the preferred action.

What is the Opponent’s Range on the Flop?

Think for a moment about what range of hands the opponent might have after betting small on this flop. When you’re ready to see Tim’s guess and the “GTO” answer, scroll down.

When the opponent bets small, Tim estimates that it is doing so with a very wide range of hands (close to a range bet). This includes strong hands (like ) and bluffs (like . If the opponent is checking with any hands, it is likely medium-strength ones (such as and ).

After calling the bet, Tim brings up the Replayer (clicking the icon in the top left corner of the screen) to see how his guess compared to the solver.

As Tim expected, the solver mostly chooses to bet small (1.5bb into 5bb) on the flop. The solver also overbets (6.65bb into 5bb) some of the time, while checking the remainder of the range.

Here’s the exact frequency breakdown from the solver-based strategy inside Lucid GTO:

(I chose a different color scheme than Tim, but the information is the same as in the video.)

range breakdown on jt2 for btn vs bb

The solver checks 29%, bets small 51%, and overbets 19% of the time on this J-T-2 flop

Click here to see the full visualization of the opponent’s range.

When the opponent uses the small bet size, it does so with a hyper-mixed strategy. In other words, the solver mixes it up with all hands, occasionally betting small with all of them. KTo and QTo do get checked back at some frequency, as well as hands like 99, A9, A8 and A7. But even those hands fall into the small bet category at varying frequency.

Solvers love to use mixed strategies like this. It’s very tough to execute as a human, but it’s worth it if you can pull it off because it makes you very unpredictable and difficult to play against.

Flop conclusion: Tim’s attempt to range the opponent after a small bet was pretty accurate, but the medium-strength hands fell into the bet category more often than he seemed to expect.

Let’s move one street further in this ranging drill and assess the turn.


With 8bb in the pot, the turn comes the () .

Tim checks again and the opponent checks back.

Turn Analysis

The completes a lot of possible straights and is overall a good card for Tim’s range. Not only can he have turned a straight with a hand like , but he can also have hit two pair with a hand like .

Meanwhile, the opponent’s overpairs (+] are now weaker in terms of relative hand strength due to the threat of Tim having a straight or turned two pair.

What is the Opponent’s Range on the Turn?

The opponent bet small on the flop and then slowed down on this turn.

Think for a moment about what hands the opponent can have given these decisions. When you’re ready to move on, scroll down.

This check on the turn significantly narrows the opponent’s range.

Tim asks himself a question:

What hands would the opponent never check back on the turn?

He guesses that if the opponent had a straight or a set, it will always bet. He also guesses that two-pair hands will bet or check (another mixed strategy from the solver).

Tim also thinks through all of the top pair hands the opponent can have. He guesses that QJ and J9 will bet at a higher frequency than AJ and KJ. Even though the latter feature stronger kickers, the QJ/J9 hands have backup equity in the form of a straight draw. These hands can withstand check-raises more than AJ/KJ.

Imagine betting on this turn with and then facing a raise. You would feel pretty crappy about your situation — you might even be drawing dead! But if you have a top pair with backup equity, like , you know you have at least a chance.

Tim guesses that any made hands that are worse than top pair (such as or ) will likely check on the turn as well.

After locking in his guess, Tim checks the Lucid GTO Drill Replayer to see how close he is to the solver’s exact strategy on the turn.

Here’s the exact frequency breakdown from the solver-based strategy inside Lucid GTO:

turn check range on j-t-2-8

The solver mostly checks (63%) on this turn. When it does bet, it prefers the medium size of 6.4bb into 8bb.

Click here to see the full visualization of the opponent’s range.

The opponent checks back most of the time (63%) on the turn. That checking range includes many of the hands Tim identified, including AJ, KJ, and Tx hands.

QJ and Q9 (both the offsuit and suited varieties) do bet at a high frequency.

Turn conclusion: Tim was on the money here when it came to predicting exactly which hands bet and check on this turn.

If you’re an Upswing Lab member, you are likely not surprised that Tim’s estimations came very close to the “GTO” strategy. Tim crushes in some of the toughest online games in the world, and his Upswing content is some of the highest-level poker education you’ll find anywhere.


The river completes the board. There’s still 8bb in the pot.

Left with just King-high, Tim has a clear bet on the river and the opponent folds .

That means we don’t get the chance to practice our ranging skills on the river in this hand.

But you can do this ranging exercise anytime for any scenario inside the Lucid GTO Cash Game Trainer!

Improve Your Cash Game Skills Fast with the Lucid GTO Trainer

Tim’s ranging drill is just one of many ways you can level-up your skills inside the Lucid GTO Cash Game Trainer.

Lucid GTO is out now! Learn more now!


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About the Author
Geoffrey Fisk

Geoffrey Fisk

Freelance writer and poker player based in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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