Range Polarization: Expand Your Poker Vocabulary

Poker Academy
15 Jun 2024
Holdem Strategy
15 Jun 2024

If you've been playing poker for a while, you may have heard the term "polarized" at least once.

By learning more about polarization, you will understand that poker is a range vs. range game.

So, let's learn more about polarization in poker to take your understanding of poker strategy to the next level!

What is Polarization?

Polarization is a term that is mainly used for ranges.

A polarized range consists of both strong and weak hands.

For instance, when making a large bet on the river, the range often becomes polarized. The river is the final street, and equity is fixed, so a large bet typically represents either a very strong hand aiming to extract value or a very weak hand attempting to bluff.

Let's consider a specific example.

What would be the polarized range in the following situation?

Suppose Player 6 makes a $75 overbet into a $58.5 pot.

This large bet suggests a polarized range. The strong hands might include AA, QQ, 99, AQ, etc., while weak hands could be those that missed their draws. If Player 6 had bet on the flop or turn, there would have been many hands that missed a flush or a straight.

Polarization involves a range made up of strong and weak hands, and the degree of "strong" or "weak" varies depending on the situation, so use it with care.

Common Misconceptions

Polarization strictly applies to ranges. The term "polarized bet" is often misused; it simply refers to a large bet. If used to describe a large bet made with a polarized range, the meaning is clear, but otherwise, it's incorrect.

Additionally, because polarization is a matter of degree, the actual size of a polarized bet depends on the pot size and the remaining stack sizes.

When to Use Polarized Ranges

Polarization is useful when making large bets or raises.

The greater the nut advantage, the larger the bet you can make with a polarized range.

For example, if the BTN opens preflop and the BB calls, and the flop is A♥Q♦7♥, the BTN has the nut advantage and can make large bets with a polarized range.

Why is there a nut advantage? Let's compare the ranges of both players.

BTN Range
BB Range

The nut advantage comes from the fact that BTN has hands like AA, QQ, AQ, whereas BB does not.

The difference in those hands directly translates into the difference in nut advantage, allowing the BTN to make large bets with a polarized range consisting of strong hands and weak hands (such as straight draws like KT or KJ).

It is important to note that the ability to make large bets with a polarized range is only viable when there is a clear "nut advantage."

Just because you may have weak hands or strong hands does not automatically justify making large bets.

Suppose, on the previous A♥Q♦7♥ board the BTN made a large bet of 130% pot size and a 6♥ falls on the turn.

In this scenario, it would be a mistake to bet big (130% pot size or all-in) just because the BTN could have a flush or a straight draw.

While it is true that the BTN has those hands too, but there is no "nut advantage" in this situation.

The BB likely has more flushes than BTN, and strong hands like AA or QQ from the flop are being spoiled.

In such a situation, it is not advisable for the BTN to make large bets (130% pot size or all-in), and bets in the 33%-75% range would make more sense.

In poker, your strategy is determined by your range and your opponent's range. 

It's fine to intentionally overbet or go all-in if your opponent has a big weakness, but please note that strategies may vary in different situations. If you are interested in making large bets with a polarized range, please refer to the video "Overbetting. Piosolver analysis".

Range Types in Context of Polarization

In addition to polarized, there are two other range types frequently used in poker — linear and capped ranges. Understanding these terms is beneficial for classifying ranges effectively.

Linear Range

A linear range is a range that consists of medium to strong hands.

For example, a preflop open range is typically a linear range, including hands like AA and KK as well as moderately strong hands such as A3s and KJo.

After the flop, hands with one pair or better are often called a linear range. Unlike polarized ranges, hands with low equity that don't have draws are not included in the linear range.

For example, on a Q♦5♣6♣ board, a linear range might include hands like Q9 or A5 and better.

Capped Range

A capped range consists of medium-strength hands. It excludes both the strongest and weakest hands.

Capped ranges often occur when a player calls an opponent’s bet or raise. For example, the BB's calling range preflop is considered a capped range.

Since the BB would 3-bet strong hands such as AA and KK and fold weaker hands, his range is made up of medium strength hands.

Post-flop, a capped range might occur when a player calls an opponent's bet or raise.


It is always important to think about what your range is, whether it is polarized or capped. And it is equally important to think about the opponent's range in the same terms..

Using GTO tools like GTO Wizard, PioSOLVER, or GTO+ can be very effective for studying ranges and improving your game.

There are no comments here yet, you can be the first!