Balancing Your Hand Range

What is a balancing play?

A balancing play is when you occasionally do something different in a given situation in an attemt to confuse your opponent and throw them off gaurd.

For example you may flat with pocket aces pre flop rather than re-raise with the idea of donking the flop, knowing that many aggressive opponents will automatically raise donk bets and you have an under represented hand. In some cases you can stack them if they have a top pair type hand or check/ call all the way down, letting them spew off a lot of chips to you.

Another play might be to re-raise with pocket eights when most of the time you'd normally just call and play post flop. The difference between a meta game play and a balancing play is that with balancing plays, you actually expect to make money right away, not just on future hands although if you balance your range well, you can throw lots of thinking players off of their game and look to capitalise on their mistakes.

Let's look at the situation where you 3-bet preflop with seven, eight suited on the button, after a solid looking player has raised in middle position. If you always 3-bet every hand you want to play, in position, on this player he will probably adjust and start 4 betting you lighter, or call and check/ raise you more. But if you 3-bet with these types of hand only some of the time, you're making it hard for him to adjust correctly. In an ideal world you'll be 3-betting with weaker hands with such a frequency that you're actually making it theoretically impossible for him to adjust properly. There is no way to measure exactly what a perfect frequency is overall but just often enough to keep your opponent guessing and likely to play back at you at the wrong moment.

Why use balancing plays?

When you start using and thinking about balancing plays, you're trying to keep your opponent guessing. Adding an element of randomness to how you play. It's not something you do for awhile, and then stop when you think your opponent has noticed what's going on. You balance your plays continuously to keep your opposition, well, off balance. All the time they are out of their comfort zone, their more likely to make mistakes and that's plus EV.

However, play cautiously and think through your desicions. Don't go overboard with 3-betting small suited connectors or just limping with aces. You're adding deception to your game by being some what tricky, but that same deception is useless unless you actually use it to disguise your overall game. If limp/re-raising becomes your most common way of playing aces, your opponents will start to figure it out, and rule out aces whenever you open-raise. Instead if you add some sort of randonising agent and only do it say 10% of the time then it will really be tough for them to read you acuratley. I like to use my watch as a randomising agent because you never know what time you'll get dealt a hand. The second hand (for example) acts as a perfect radomisation agent. If the second hand is between 0- 6 seconds then limp, all the rest, open raise. There is a perfect 10%, random play.

Conclusion

First of all you'll basically want to develop a fundamentally solid game. From that base you can spice it up with some balancing plays in the right situations which will mainly be opponent dependant. Remember that poker in essance is a simple game so if you're in a hand with a total donk, dont then over complicate things with balancing as they're never paying attention, these guys should just be bet, bet, bet for value.



Good luck at the tables.



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