Poker Strategy -- Dissecting Hand Ranges With Mohsin Charania
Charania Explains His Tournament Thought Prcoess
Mohsin Charania started his poker career just like most every other poker player his age. After seeing Chris Moneymaker win the World Series of Poker main event in 2003, he started playing in some small-stakes home games in college. Early success in those home games at the University of Illinois snowballed into success in local casinos and online.
Known to his opponents as “ChicagoCards1” on the internet, Charania has developed into one of the top tournament players around. Last April, Charania broke through with his first major live tournament win by taking down the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo for over $1.7 million. With his first major win under his belt, his career tournament earnings between online and live now sits at just shy of $5 million.
Charania sat down with Card Player to discuss his thought process on how he breaks down hand ranges in a tournament.
Steve Schult: What are some of the first things you are thinking about preflop when you are trying to figure out what range a player has?
Mohsin Charania: Usually when I am raising preflop and getting called, it has a lot to do with the age of the player and the position of the player. So if I raise under-the-gun and an older player, who is generally tighter, makes the call in early position to my early position open, I’m almost always giving him credit for a pretty big hand. Sometimes there are tight younger players, but for the most part they are older.
Now if a younger, aggressive player calls my early position raise, I still might give him credit for a strong hand, but if he is three-betting, he can be all over the board since he still has position on my early position raise and can make the hand tough for me to play. If a tighter player three-bets me, I can usually pin point his range down to a few hands based on his stack size and position since they are generally not going to be doing it light.
SS: So let’s say an older, tighter player calls your early position raise from middle position. What kind of range are you going to be giving him there?
MC: Sometimes even old, tight players will play like A-7 offsuit and it will throw you off, but for the most part it’s usually a pair and big suited cards. I don’t really put them on 7-6 suited and stuff because a lot of the tighter players tend not to play them because they are more likely to get squeezed out with all of the players behind them left to act that could three-bet. They are more likely to play them on the button and in later position than in middle position or if they are in one of the blinds and already have chips out there.
SS: Would you start to include hands like 7-6 suited if a younger, more aggressive player calls you in that same spot?
MC: Yeah, I would start to add more 7-6 suited, J-9 suited, type of hands. If they three-bet, they could literally have almost any two cards and it’s really tough to give them an accurate range preflop.
SS: Can you explain how different flop textures are going to influence how you narrow down your opponent’s range? Obviously there is a huge difference between A-7-3 rainbow and J-10-9 with a flush draw with regards to what kind of hands you are going to put your opponent on.
MC: If I open and a tight player calls, I’ll almost 100 percent bet the A-7-3 flop because they aren’t very likely to have a hand that connected with the board. They almost never have a pocket pair bigger than jacks and if they have a hand like pocket fives or K-Q suited, they are probably just going to let the hand go.
Conversely, the more aggressively player might float me there with K-Q suited or pocket fives and see what I do on the turn because he knows that I know that it’s very profitable for me to bet this flop almost 100 percent of the time as long as we are deep enough. Even if we are short, it’s still very profitable because it looks strong.
The J-10-9 flop is sometimes an even better board to barrel against a tighter player because if he was trapping with a big hand preflop, he will be playing more cautious and the turn card will usually make him fold. Like if the flush card gets there on the turn and he is sitting there with dry aces and no redraw, he will probably just fold. Against a younger player, you almost have to be careful because you really need to nail that flop to get a lot of chips in on the J-T-9, so you either need to play more cautiously in that spot, or just amp up the aggression because you know that he will be getting aggressive on that board texture.
SS: So against a younger player, are you trying to exercise more pot control on the wetter flops?
MC: Yeah, but then I guess you have to be willing to get it in without a straight on that flop because they can just put you on a one pair hand and try to blow you off of it.
SS: So let’s continue to use those two flop examples. How would you start to dissect their ranges when a turn card completes a draw and when the turn card is a complete brick?
MC: If an older, tighter player called, and the turn card came a brick, I would probably give it up because they are less likely to have a wide range. I guess they could have like A-Q with a flush draw or something, but if they do have a draw, it’s probably such a monster draw that they aren’t folding the turn and then at that point you have to commit yourself to betting the river even though half the deck probably helps their hand.
Against a younger, aggressive player, if the turn card completed something, I’d be more likely to bet because they can’t keep calling you with nothing and it shows that you aren’t really scared of the turn card. If the turn is a brick, I’d play more pot control. I’d probably check a hand like A-J and act like I was just giving up and just turn it into a bluff catcher.
SS: How do you piece together the hand on the river with those same two boards we have been using?
MC: So with the river you have all this information with whether he called or didn’t call. At that point, if the turn was a brick and he is still calling, you can start to put him on a draw or maybe a naked jack, or even some younger players will still call with a ten on like a J-T-9-3 board. So at this point, you can really start to figure out what they have based on their previous street and you need to take into account what the river did to change their hand strength and how much credit they give you in general. If they don’t give you any credit and you have it, you can get big bets in on the river for value since you will get called more often. If they don’t give you any credit and you don’t have it, you either need to put in a gigantic bet to try and scare them into folding or just think about giving up.
Sometimes tighter players will just check back on the river with a hand that they can showdown. So if you have a naked jack and they were trapping you preflop with two aces, they may just feel like since they stuck around for two streets with a big hand, but not a big hand relative to the board, they very often just check back because they don’t want to put any more chips in. So you can sometimes save yourself some chips against a tighter player. Whereas against somebody who is more aggressive and can do different things, you have to sometimes figure out if you want to check/fold, check/call, or take a different line.
At this point though, you have so much information that it really comes down to instincts on how big of a hand you think he has. You have to think about how much history you have with the opponent, how long you have been playing together, and put it all together to figure out the best line on the river. ´
|1||Online Poker Scandal: Annie Duke Responds To Leaked Russ Hamilton Audio Recording|
|2||Dan Shak Finishes Second In Tiger Woods' Charity Poker Tournament In Las Vegas|
|3||A Poker Life -- Brian Hastings|
|4||Jamie Gold's World Series of Poker Main Event Bracelet Up For Auction|
|5||High-Stakes Online Poker: Gus Hansen Wins $1.7 Million This Week|
|6||Doyle Brunson Bows Out Of World Series Of Poker|
|7||Final Table Set In European Poker Tour €100,000 Super High Roller|
|8||Tiger Woods To Host Poker Tournament In Las Vegas|
|9||Gambling Lawsuit: Did Ivey Notice Defective Cards At London Casino En Route To Winning $12 Million?|
|10||Ultimate Bet Cheating: Russ Hamilton Admits In Audio Recording, 'I Did Take This Money'|
|1||Jamie Gold's World Series of Poker Main Event Bracelet Up For Auction|
|2||Doyle Brunson Bows Out Of World Series Of Poker|
|3||Gambling Lawsuit: Did Ivey Notice Defective Cards At London Casino En Route To Winning $12 Million?|
|4||Ultimate Bet Cheating: Russ Hamilton Admits In Audio Recording, 'I Did Take This Money'|
|5||High-Stakes Online Poker: Gus Hansen Approaching $10 Million Lifetime Losses On Full Tilt|
|6||Nevada To Add Gambler To 'Black Book' For First Time In Nearly Four Years|
|7||Phil Ivey Sues London Casino For Allegedly Stiffing Him On $12.1 Million|
|8||A Look At The Ultimate Poker Software: Nevada's First Real Money Online Poker Room|
|9||High-Stakes Online Poker: Gus Hansen Now Down $6 Million Since The Fall|
|10||Ben Tollerene Talks About Losing $1.7 Million In Single Session To Viktor Blom|