Poker is a game that can be studied and played in different ways, but most poker players who want to learn how to play the game well start with some form of poker charts, as this can significantly shorten the period needed to learn basic concepts.
Poker charts can help you remember which hands to open from various positions in different game formats, which hands to jam all in with when short-stacked, and much more.
Modern poker charts are often created with the help of poker solvers, advanced pieces of software which look to “solve” poker on its most basic mathematical levels.
In this article, we will look at some of the most frequent types of poker charts and briefly explain how you can use them to help improve your game and get better at poker much faster.
While there was once a time when poker players only wanted to know what to do with a particular hand in a particular spot, those days are long gone.
Today, we think about poker in terms of ranges, which means you should always be thinking about all the possible hands you can make a certain play with or hands that your opponents might be playing against you.
Poker range charts are made to define a certain range and help you learn it by heart without having to do any calculations yourself.
For instance, a preflop raising chart for 6-max cash games will tell you which hands to open from each position before the flop.
You don’t have to run simulations or do calculations to figure out what to do preflop, as you can simply memorize the chart and know you are making theoretically sound plays.
Of course, most poker charts are created to mimic the game theory optimal (GTO) approach to the game, which means you could deviate from them to exploit the various tendencies of your opponents.
However, good poker charts work against anyone in the world and will allow you to hold your own regardless of how your opponents play, which is what makes them such useful tools.
If you are going to use poker charts, we recommend learning them by heart and trying to stick to them as much as possible to avoid losing value or making plays that don't make sense for your overall poker strategy.
The simplest of all poker charts are the preflop charts, which are designed to tell you how to act in various preflop situations.
There are several types of preflop charts, including preflop raising charts, preflop 3-betting charts, preflop 4-betting charts, etc. Preflop-raising charts are the most basic, and they will tell you which hands to open from each position at various stack depths.
Make sure you always take note of the effective stack depth for which the charts are created, as well as the particular game type they are designed for.
Your raising range will vary drastically in a 40bb tournament situation and a 200bb cash game spot, so don't think you can always get away with raising exactly the same ranges.
Preflop opening charts are also the easiest to memorize, as you only need to remember a single range for each stack depth.
Preflop poker ranges for 3-betting and 4-betting are a lot more complex, as they consider both your and the opener’s or 3-bettor’s position. For instance, you will have to learn which hands to 3-bet from the small blind against a hijack, cutoff, and button opener, and those three ranges will not be the same.
If you want to play sound poker, you will need to dedicate some time to learning all the poker charts and having a good grip on all the ranges.
Also, note that while it may seem like poker ranges are hard to memorize, they are definitely the shortened version of the much more complex approach you would have to take if you were not using charts at all.
Finally, make sure not to use any poker charts while actually playing online poker, as this is now considered cheating by many poker sites and may get your accounts banned if discovered.
Remembering each and every poker chart out there by heart can be a little tricky, especially once they all start to blur and merge in your head as you add more and more to your repertoire.
This is why many poker players use a shortcut instead and try to remember which percentage of hands to play in different spots.
It is not the ideal solution, as some hands can be on particular charts that don't quite fall into the hand percentage associated with that chart. Yet, by remembering the percentages, you will be able to play an approximately correct range in each spot without having to memorize as many different poker ranges.
Here are some frequent ranges you might want to try and memorize:
You can see that the ranges we listed here go from a very wide range of 60% to a very tight one of just 7%.
Remembering ranges this way will work best in terms of preflop raising charts, while 3-betting and 4-betting get a lot trickier, with hands like A5s or K2s often working as better bluffing candidates than the likes of ATs or KJs.
Whenever possible, you will want to memorize charts in your head in terms of percentages, but always be mindful of the actual range and how different it may be from the top X% of all hands that you may be trying to use instead.
Perhaps the most convenient poker format to use poker charts for is heads-up poker. This is also the game format that benefits the most from using poker solvers.
Heads-up poker players use poker charts for every part of their game, ranging from simple preflop solutions, such as which hands to raise from the button to the more complex postflop decisions.
While it is true that creating good postflop charts is difficult, it is not impossible, especially when it comes to heads-up poker.
Heads-up poker charts go a step beyond telling you how to play preflop and help you decide which hands to c-bet on various board textures, which hands to check-raise, etc.
The problem with postflop charts is that there can be so many of them, as different board textures require you to play different parts of your preflop ranges differently.
Much like in other game formats, the preflop hand charts are the most useful in heads-up as well, as they can help you develop a strong fundamental game that can’t be easily exploited.
If you are looking to start playing heads-up poker, we highly recommend using poker charts to get a head start and quickly learn how to play both the button and the big blind at a reasonable level.
You won’t become a heads-up crusher overnight with poker charts, but we can promise you that you can hold your own, at least preflop if you get a good handle on some basic heads-up poker ranges.
While many poker charts out there are of a newer date, preflop shoving charts have been around for over a decade and have made many people quite wealthy. Used for short-stack play in games like SNGs, preflop jamming charts offer clear instructions as to which hands make for a profitable shove from each position at each stack depth.
In turbo and hyper turbo SNGs, where players are constantly playing with short stacks, having a good handle on these poker charts will help you print money.
Of course, these charts have been around for a long time, and many players are aware of them by now, but they are still very useful tools.
In fact, any tournament player out there should have a solid handle on the Nash Equilibrium charts, as they are the only way to know for sure if a shove you are making is profitable or not.
If you plan on playing tournaments, you will need to know your push/fold poker charts to survive the late game and have the best chance at going deep, even in big field events.
Poker charts are the fastest and easiest way to kick-start your poker career and grasp how to play profitably from different positions and in different spots. These charts will not only help you know which hands to play in different situations but also get a better overall understanding of poker ranges.
By memorizing preflop opening ranges, and other ranges from poker charts, you will continually grow in your poker knowledge and understanding without even making a conscious effort to do so.
Download your first poker hand charts today and start learning how to approach the essential plays in poker from the right perspective every single time. To help you with this, we developed the Rangeviewer tool, which you get for free when you join our training site.
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