How to Put Your Opponents on (All In) Ranges

One skill that lots of beginners have trouble developing is the ability to put players on a range. In the case of sit and go’s, the most common situation where you need to put a player on a range is when they are short and are shoving all in. It’s also the most opportune time to build your stack, assuming you asses their range correctly. Otherwise you’ll do more harm to your stack than good.

Putting your opponents on an all-in range is something that does get easier with practice. And there are variables that you can look at that will take some of the guesswork out in the meantime. That’s what I’ll be explaining in this article.

Factors to Consider When Determining All-In Ranges

These are the factors that you want to consider when trying to determine an all-in range.

Regular or Fish?

The first thing you should look at when determining a range is whether or not the player is a regular or random (fishy) player.

Regular players are going to play very much like you — they have an idea as to what they’re doing. So their push/fold range will be wide. This is great because all you have to do is ask yourself, what would I push in his spot? Then once you start seeing that player showdown some hands, just adjust the range as necessary and make note of it.

Random players are going to be harder. It’s hard to tell which ones know how to play, for one thing. And two, their all-in ranges are (usually) very tight. This might come as a surprise since fishy players are loose and like to splash around in pots. However, when it comes to being on the brink of busting a tournament, they all of a sudden tighten up.

Random players also aren’t familiar with optimal strategy when short. That means they don’t know that sometimes you should shove with suited connectors or hands like J7o. What you’ll find is that most random players show up with the top 20-30% of hands — so hands like pairs, broadways and ace-rags. So as a default, you don’t want to isolate these players with a range much wider than your top aces (A8s+) and pairs. That means folding hands like KQ, as bad as that sounds. Too often I’ve isolated with KQ to see the fish show up with A2. Even though you’re not that far behind, you’re still are behind.

How Big a Stack Do They Have?

Another consideration is the stack size of the player shoving all in. There’s a big difference between someone shoving with 12 big blinds and someone shoving with five big blinds.

As a rule of thumb, someone shoving with 10 or 12 big blinds means that they have a hand worth playing, but they don’t have the stack size to actually play poker. It’s too good to fold, so they shove it instead. This will usually be hands like pocket 10s or worse, AT+ and KJs+. Some of the better players will still raise small pocket pairs here too, so that they’re not snapped off and flipping..

Smaller stacks (<5-8 big blinds) will mean a lack of fold equity and desperation. In the case of a good player, that can mean a range as wide as 54s, depending on the actual stack size and position. Or a hand like K3s. It can be anything that will have top card or pair value or flush or straight value. Basically, anything with equity.

What is Their Position?

The number of players left to act after your opponent will affect their range — aka position.

For example, a player under the gun in a nine handed game will have eight other players to get through in order to pick up the blinds. Because there are so many other players that can have a hand and call, their range needs to be on the tighter side. For example, with 10 big blinds under the gun, a good player might shove A9 or AT, KQ and 7s on up.

This is the opposite of a player that might be in the cut-off or hijack seat. These guys only have 3 to 4 players to get through in order to pick up the blinds, so these guys will shove much wider ranges. The same player might shove all pairs, K9s and A7o on up.

There are exceptions, of course. For example, a player under the gun or UTG+1 with 5 or 6 big blinds will shove very wide, just because once they get hit by the blinds again, they won’t have any fold equity left. So players in these spots will shove hands like connectors, suited 1 or 2-gappers and anything with top card (showdown) value.

What Tournament Are You Playing, and What Stage Is It?

The tournament you’re playing in makes a big difference too. As a rule of thumb, players will start shoving their 10 big blind ranges for an 18-man with 15 big blinds in a 45 or 180-man. Players are naturally wider in bigger tournaments since you have to take more risks to build a stack.

The stage matters too.

The bubble is an excellent example of this. Most players, especially fish, are tighter around the bubble. So right off the bat if someone shoves, you should expect that they have something with equity. They’re not shoving the absolute bottom of their range.

Other than the bubble you might also consider the payout jumps. In the larger tournaments these jumps can be significant. Like the bubble, players will naturally be tighter so that they can at least hit the next payout jump. So the range you put them on, and call them with, should also be tighter.

What Are Their Stats?

If you’re playing online and are using a HUD, your stats will go a long ways in helping you determine a range.

For example, a player that is 16/14 (vpip/pfr) is likely to have a much tighter range than someone who is 50/40. However, the opposite can be true in terms of shoving as I stated above. You can make an educated guess that players with tighter stats are much more likely to have a grasp on short stack strategy, so you can use that to assess their range. That might not always be the case, especially if it’s a random that you have a low sample with, but again, we’re just trying to make the best educated decisions as we can. The worst case scenario is that you isolate and you’re wrong, or, you just hit the top of their range. Either way, take a note, and if you don’t get lucky, just start a new game.

Combine All of This Information to Determine a Range

All of these factors above should be combined to get an accurate idea of someone’s range. In other words, if you take a reg that is 16/14, in middle position with 8 big blinds, you can determine that they’re shoving with 25 or 30% of their hands. The same reg under the gun with six big blinds is more likely to be shoving 75% of their hands. So as you can see, you really need all of these factors to make the most accurate assessment of someone’s range.

But like I said above, this takes time, especially playing against regular players. The upside to this is that the more you play and the more you play against the same players, the faster you’ll collect the data you need to make accurate assessments. Combined with the fact that you can study these players in your off time and you should find that you develop the skill of how to put your players on ranges rather quickly.