It’s always a question of range

The word Worth highlighted in green

When many advanced poker players look at high stakes poker games involving high stakes players then they often believe that the way to make money is to make really thin value bets. There is some truth to this but the way to make money in high stakes poker is to do a lot of what you do at low stakes poker and that is to put your opponent onto a range. If your opponent is going to call with 7c-7d all the way down on a Kc-Ks-6d-Qd-Js then you can and should value bet a hand like Qs-10s.

However the value bet isn’t because we “should be value betting thinly in high stakes poker games”. It is because we have information that our opponents calling range against us or in general is very wide. So when we make a queen with a mediocre kicker on the turn then we have a straight forward value bet on the turn and the river. We started out betting the flop as a bluff but then switched to betting for value on the turn and river. If we know that our opponents calling range is wide then we can value bet more thinly.

However if we change the game to one where our opponents are only playing NL50 full ring and are playing very tight ranges then the situation is somewhat different. We can still raise pre-flop and c-bet the flop but when our opponent calls the flop and then the turn then it becomes a lot more marginal to value bet the river. In fact against very tight unthinking opponents then checking the river may be the better play because tight players wouldn’t call down on three streets with a hand like pocket sevens.

So whether we are playing high-stakes poker or low stakes poker then it essentially makes no difference. We are still trying to put our opponents onto a range but the difference is that our opponent’s ranges will be different within these two individual poker spheres. To be able to multi-table effectively then it helps to know what your average opponents default range is. This is why it is very difficult to play mid-stakes or high-stakes poker on too many tables at once. Your opponents ranges will be in a constant state of change against very strong opposition and it will be very tough to put them on an accurate range.

If you cannot place your opponent onto an accurate range then you will struggle to make money against them. So a really successful player at say NL100 is essentially doing the same thing as a really successful player in say games with $5,000 and $10,000 buy-ins. It is only the makeup of your opponent’s range that changes and what the correct actions are against those ranges. This is where low stakes poker players and high stakes poker do a lot of the same thing. It also highlights the fact that putting your opponents onto a range is the single biggest thing that you should be focusing on in a game of poker.