Top poker hand ranges, by percentage

by PokerAnon ~ January 20th, 2011. Filed under: Instructional posts, Poker theory.


If a player opens 2% of all hands preflop from early position, what does that look like? Or if he opens 5% from early position, what does that mean?

Here’s the top hands, and what percentage that represents. For every pair, there are 6 possible hands. For every suited hole cards, there are only 4 possible, and for unsuited, 12. We can add the cumulative number of hands, divide by 1,326 or the total number of poker hands, and determine what percentage that range represents.

Top Preflop Hand Range

If we select the top range of hands differently, we get a slightly different result.

Top Preflop Hand Range, by EV

If I use the top winning hands against a single opponent from my chart in another post looking at odds of winning against random hands, we get this:

Top Preflop Hand Range, by Odds of Winning against Random Hands

Keep in mind that this last one is against random hands, and assumes that we always go right to the river and see all five community cards. This also does not take into account the playability of any of these hands postflop.

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We’re never going to be 100% certain of the range as it depends on how our opponent ranks hands. I currently open raise all pocket pairs, including 22, from early position, but often fold AQ. Not everyone ranks their hands this way so my top 5% is going to be different than most people’s.

One version of a standard starting hand grouping can be found on flopturnriver.com. If we take those groupings and identify them in terms of percentages and assume our opponent uses a similar personal hand ranking, then

  1. 2% = AA / KK / QQ / JJ / AKs
  2. 4% = TT / AK / AQs / AJs / KQs
  3. 7% = AQ / 99 /  88 /  77 /  ATs /  KJs
  4. 11% = AJ / KQ / QJs / KTs / JTs / AT,
  5. 16% = 66 / 55 / 44 / 33 / 22 / KJ / QTs / A9s / A8s / QJ,
  6. 21% = KT / QT / JT / A7s / K9s / Q9s / T9s / J9s /A5s/A6s/A4s /A3s /A2s,

and now we’ve found a range for players that play 21% without consideration for position. For worse players we start adding the unsuited Aces, some suited Kings and various middle connectors to get to 30% and more.

If they raise 2%, then we eliminate range 1. if they open limped. If they raise 7% and call 21%, then we eliminate the first three ranges and the last three will represent their range for open limping. Bad/beginner players don’t adjust their ranges for position so we can assume that their raising/limping action depends on their hand without much regard as to their position at the table.

If they are calling a raise then we have to look at their calling percentage and also guess as to what they think are good calling hands. The range will narrow slightly, but if they play more than 21% of their hands and rarely raise, they probably still call with almost all of that range.

If they are 3 betting 7%, the 7% category will define their range fairly well, though if they’re thinking at all their range will be much wider in blind/button/cutoff situations and maybe tighter if the original raise comes from a tight player in early position.

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