Advanced Poker Strategy: REM

There are many processes for getting the most out of your opponents at the poker table, but REM is perhaps the easiest to learn to implement because it involves three easy steps: Range, Equity, Maximize. REM was introduced in the book Professional No-Limit Hold ‘Em: Volume 1 by Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta and Ed Miller and it gives you a framework that allows you to determine what your opponents are holding and get the most out of your hand against them. Let’s look at each step as they occur in the process.

Range: What range of hands is it likely that your opponent holds?
Unless you’ve developed psychic powers, you are not going to be able to put your opponent on an exact hand based on how they’ve raised before the flop. However, you should be able to figure out what it means when a tight-aggressive player whose playing style you’re familiar with makes a three-bet against someone raising from early position before the flop. They’re not going to be doing this on every hand, so you know they have something that is, at the very least, a strong pair.

If, on the other hand, that same player calls before the flop, then it’s likely that they’ve got something along the lines of connectors or a low-end pair and they want to see what they can build without investing any more money than they have to.

Equity: How much equity do you have against that range?
We’ve covered +EV and -EV plays on the site before, but simply put equity is, overall, the “share” of the pot you expect to win over time making the same play with the same cards. When you compare your hand to your opponent’s possible range of hands, you want to make an educated guess about where you stand and whether or not it’s a good idea to bet against them. For instance, if you’re holding AhJh and you’ve put your opponent on hands such as TT and better, then you only have a 34% equity. That means it’s a -EV decision.

Maximize: What’s the best play you can make?
Once you have a good idea of the range of hands that your opponent is playing with and you understand the relative equity of your hand, then you can make decisions related to the profit you can make. Using the example above and assuming that both players have full stacks, the best you can hope for is a Jack on the flop, and so folding is the best option. However, if you’re both running with lower stacks and the betting is less aggressive, then calling to see the flop may give you a chance to make something.

Many players believe that REM is the best way to approach playing a hand in No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em games. It just takes a lot of practice in each step to make it work for you. Once you’ve gotten the groundwork, practicing REM on each hand will happen more easily than you think.