I downloaded a spreadsheet from poker guru Tommy Angelo’s website for developing “auto-fold ranges.” He defines an auto-fold range as the starting hands you intend to fold in a given spot, no matter who else is at the table or how they are playing. Or how you are playing. As in ‘always’ means ALWAYS.
If the spot arises and you have one of these hands, you intend to fold. Always.
Being human, we recognize the difficulty presented by word ‘intend,’ which has all the force and effect of a New Year’s Resolution.
Nevertheless, let’s see what happened. I started with the pre-flop situation of being under-the-gun and followed the instructions. My range will be narrow, hopefully tighter than most, and I don’t have to consider any potential action before it is my turn.
Here is my first draft, followed by an explanation of the color scheme:
Red means… auto-fold. Think of red lights and stop signs. I intend to fold these hands. Really… I will. Always. The easiest hands in this chart are those containing a deuce. When I’m UTG and peek at my cards, if the first one is a deuce, I don’t need to look at the second card (and frequently don’t), because I know I’m going to fold. I won’t get involved UTG with A2s, nor with 22. Every other hand containing a deuce is worse.
Some of the other hands speak to me like Tantalus, the Greek God of Temptation. “Just this once…” I can hear their voices. Can I truly resist the urge when I’m losing or tired or pissed off or facing exploitable villains? Will I stay disciplined after seeing other players win large pots, as inevitably they will, after entering pots with cards in my auto-fold range?
Green means… it-depends. The best of these I’ll always play, obviously. In describing how to use the auto-fold ranges, Angelo simply categorizes every hand that isn’t an auto-fold as “it depends.” Further sub-groupings and deciding when to fold the weakest of these at a really tough table or whether to call or raise (and how much) are topics for another day. By defining the auto-fold hands, you’ve conserved bandwidth for the it-depends hands.
Yellow means… well, I wasn’t sure at first what yellow means, and that alone is reason for caution.
Most of hands in the red section are no-brainers. I started at the bottom right corner of the chart and made the total garbage hands red. Junk –> always fold UTG.
Then I moved my attention to the top left corner with its beautiful AA, KK and AK hands. These are definitely NOT auto-folds, so I made them green. Easy game.
Back and forth I went, adding a few more reds and a few more greens. Approaching the center, it became harder and harder to commit to always folding, especially some of the suited connectors and 1-gappers. Who doesn’t love these hands? Who doesn’t know that out-of-position this is playing with fire? Who doesn’t like playing with fire?
Therefore, yellow means… there is more work to do. If JTs is not an auto-fold, why should T9s be an auto-fold? If I allow T9s to remain in the it-depends range, what about 98s? 87s? Somewhere a line must be drawn. Gaaaaah!
I’ve only just begun to rinse and repeat these charts for other spots – middle and late positions, facing calls or raises or re-raises. Each new auto-fold chart starts with the no-brainers in the bottom right and top left, adding a few reds and a couple greens, working my way towards the center. I hope I can eliminate all of the yellow squares, but I’m not yet sure.
You might say it depends…
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