The word “balance” is the big buzzword in poker these days but I feel that most of it is misunderstood by the majority of people that play poker. Everybody it seems is trying to balance ranges these days but is that the right thing to do all the time? Well to be quite frank it isn’t because if you have to play in a game where you need to be balanced all the time then you are probably playing in the wrong game. What you need to remember with balancing your play is why you balance in the first place.
You balance because you are trying to create a situation where your opponents cannot exploit your play. This is defensive in nature and not offensive but it is a requirement against very good players. To better explain what I mean then let us say that you are playing against a world class player in the game of “Rock, paper, scissors”. If you don’t know how to play that game then simply look it up on Google. Against a player that could read your actions and likely responses then your optimal line would be to balance your play!
You could achieve this by using outside factors to base your decisions. Like for example if the second finger on your watch was showing between 0-20 seconds then you chose paper, 21-40 seconds then you chose rock and 41-60 seconds you chose scissors. Because you are totally taking your own decision making out of the equation and with it your own brain patterns then your opponent cannot outplay you. It can be said that your game is balanced. However it is obvious or should be obvious that if you are better than your opponent then balancing is harmful to your results.
So to exploit an inferior opponent then you need to become unbalanced yourself. In a poker context then this can be looked at in numerous ways. If a player folds too much post flop then you must counter that in the opposite direction by bluffing more. You cannot counter this by folding too much yourself otherwise everybody will be folding and nobody will be beating the rake. Likewise if an opponent is too aggressive pre-flop then we can counter that by either being more aggressive or more passive and calling their raises with position.