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The Hand Reading System

by Alec Torelli

The Hand Range Funnel

A hand range is simply all the possible hands that your opponent can hold at any given time. The best way to figure out exactly what your opponents have is using what I call a hand range funnel.

When a Players is Dealt In the Hand
a Players is
Dealt In the

This represents the truth that any time a player is dealt in, they can theoretically have 100% of possible hands, or all 1,326 com- binations of holdings.

of possible hands, or all 1,326 com- binations of holdings. 100% of Potential Hands Whether a

100% of Potential Hands

Whether a player calls, raises or folds, their potential holdings change because they took action. Preflop is typically where hand ranges reduce the most, since your average opponent will only play some- where between 10-25% of their preflop holdings.

Hand ranges are almost always fur- ther reduced on the flop, as the pres- ence of action forces players to fold some of their range, thereby leaving only a portion of their potential hold- ings left in consideration.

Ranges vary by player. Here are some preflop guidelines: Tight Players: 10% Loose Players: 25% Maniacs: 50%

Your opponents range may remain close to the same if he’s the preflop raiser and makes a continuation bet on the flop as players do this often. His range will change dramatically, however if he check raises you on an As 8s 7s board, or check calls a 8s 5c 2h board.



Further action further reduces the range of hands your oppo- nent can have.

An aggressive play like an All-In bet will dramati- cally reduces holdings.


Remember, for a hand to still be in your opponent’s range, he must have played it this way on all previous streets.

When this process is done correctly, it’s possible to reduce your opponents holding down to one or two possibilities.

Quick Start Guide

The Hand Range Funnel

To use a hand range funnel there are 3 key principles that you must keep in mind.

1. Hand Ranges Always Shrink

First, a hand range can never increase in size, hence the idea of a funnel. Be- cause the possibilities of hands your opponents can have only gets smaller as they fold out weaker holdings. (There’s one exception, and that’s if your opponent plays his entire range the exact same way from one street to another. In this case his range would remain the exact same.)

In other words, the possible holdings that your opponent can have only gets smaller as the hand progresses.

That’s good news, as your goal is figure out his precise two cards.

2. Funnels Come in All Shapes

No two hands of poker are the same, and thus no two ‘hand range funnels’ will shrink in the same way.

Sometimes your opponents hand range may narrow dramatically, and then plateau.

Preflop Flop Turn River


This happens in cases where players show aggression early, and then play their entire range the same on later streets.

We often see this in practice when a player calls a raise preflop, and then checks the flop, turn, and river when out of position. Most players will do this with their entire range of hands, allowing the preflop aggressor to continue with the lead in the hand.

Real Hand Example: Our opponent (Villain) calls a raise preflop from the Big Blind. Flop: A82. Villain check-calls a bet. Turn: 2. Villain check-calls another bet. River: 4. Villain checks.

 Literally nothing has changed about the Villain’s range between his turn call and river
Literally nothing has changed about the Villain’s range between his turn
call and river check, since he will check the river 100% of the time. 

Other times our opponent’s hand range may remain broad until the river,
at which point it narrows dramatically.


You will encounter this situation when your opponent check-calls a bet on the flop, both players check the turn, and the Villain comes out firing with a big bet on the river.

Real Hand Example: Our opponent (Villain) calls a raise preflop from the Big Blind. Flop: 9s 6s 4c. Villain check-calls a bet. Turn: Jd. Villain checks, and we (Hero) check behind. River: Qs. Villain bets huge, the size of the pot or more.

In this situation, the Villain’s range on the river has changed dramatically, due to the cards that came and the size of his bet.

The only hands with which he bets this big for value are likely to be flushes. Other- wise he has probably missed a straight draw and is blu ng.

The reason his range shrinks so much is that most of the hands with which he could have potentially check-called the flop, he can no longer have: any small pair or hands containing a 9, 6, 4 in them. The reason being he would check the river with these small pairs, and hope to win at showdown.

It’s also unlikely he has two pair, since there are very few hands with which he could theoretically call preflop, check-call the flop, and then bet the river which con- tain some combination of two pair. (The only real possibilities being J9 or Q9, and many opponents fold those hands preflop).

It’s also very unlikely he has three of a kind, since most of the time players will opt to raise the flop or lead out on the turn on these draw heavy boards to protect their hand and build a pot.


Thus, his range on the river is comprised of mostly flushes and missed straight draws.

To figure out whether or not we should call or fold, we simply weigh the possibility that he’s blung against the possibility that he has a flush.

Don’t worry if you can’t do that just yet, I show you exactly how to do this entire process in my workbook, ‘The Four Steps to Beating Anyone at Poker.’ I make it super simple and fun.

3. Hands Which We Eliminate Are Gone Forever

One of the biggest mistakes that newcomers to this process make is assuming their oppo- nent can have a hand which they could have discounted previously.

If for any reason whatsoever you eliminate a hand from your opponent’s range, it is gone forever!

Have you ever found yourself in a tough situation and didn’t know whether or not your oppo- nent could have a specific hand?

Here’s a quick hack to figure it out.

Simply replay the action in your head and see if he would likely play the specific hand ex- actly like he played this one.

No match means he can’t have it!

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you are holding As7s and your solid, tight, straightforward opponent calls your but- ton raise from the Small Blind.


Flop: Th 6d 2c. He checks, you bet big, and he calls. Turn: 8c. He checks, you bet again, and he calls a second time. River: 9d. He checks, you bet a third time, and now he raises you!

You guys are both super deep stacked. It’s your turn

Before we go any further, real quick, what do you do?

What’s the first thing that pops into your mind?

Fold? Call? Shove?

You probably ruled out folding. That was easy.

But shoving seems a little too aggressive. After all, he’s never calling with a worse hand and there’s a higher straight out there.

Okay too easy, you got it! We should just call.


The correct answer is shove.

And here’s why.

The best hand our opponent can have is a ten-high straight, meaning his hand contains some sort of 7: pocket 7’s being the most likely.

He cannot have QJ or J7 because he wouldn’t have played those hands in this way. What’s more is we can have QJ and J7, making this a ideal spot to blu , and


force our opponent to fold a chop.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of why he can’t have QJ, and a very quick sneak peak into the more advanced hand range analysis which you’ll find in my workbook, ‘The Four Steps to Beating Anyone at Poker.’

Let’s replay the action.

Our tight, solid opponent called a raise from the small blind preflop! It’s im- possible he would do that with J7, and QJ may either 3 bet us or fold as well, depending on the player. If he does have QJ, it’s almost definitely suited.

He check-called a big bet on a T62 rainbow flop.

Would a tight, solid player ever do that with QJ?


You can see how with a little analysis that we can be certain that our worst case scenario is a chop.

Equipped with this new information, we shove all in for a monster stack. He hems and haws for a minute, before finally folding.

And rightfully so, at best he’s chopping with a 7. At worst he’s losing to J7 and QJ.

He shouldn't have raised in the first place, exposing himself to a tough situa- tion, but he didn’t know you were such an expert and going to put him to


the ultimate test!

 Congrats! You just made it through your first hand range funnel. 
Congrats! You just made it through your first hand range funnel. 

Had you been at the table, you would have just won yourself a boat load of cash in a
spot where few players in the world are taking advantage of. 

As you can see using the hand range funnel is an extremely powerful tool. When done correctly, it will help you win money money, crush the competition and move up in stakes.


hope this guide helped up your poker game.


look forward to continuing to help you along your poker journey.

Alec, Founder of Conscious Poker