Originally Posted by bgomez89
polarized=either pure bluffs or nuts
From Duh, Pooh-Bah, 2p2:
I don't like any of the definitions provides thus far.
Range polarization refers to a range in which all hands fall into one of two distinct subsets, with no hands existing outside of these subsets. Typically the subsets are of inverse strength (nuts/air), but not necessarily.
Examples of polarized ranges that are of similar strength.
1) Nuts/thin value
2) thin value/air
Furthermore, often times we misuse the term polarized to describe a range that has 3 subsets rather than 2. The concept is the same, except for having one more 'type' of hand to consider.
1) Nuts/Thin Value/Air
2) Thin Value/Value bluff/air
Either way, when an opponent (through his actions) groups his entire hand range into only 2 (or 3) types of hands it becomes extremely easy to exploit that player. This is because making EV based decisions is much simpler when having to consider only 2 hand strengths, rather than a wide range of hand strengths.
eg... we can play much more optimally when opponents polarize, and in fact many players will argue that forcing opponents into polarizing is the key to NL holdem, and many other poker games
Related to this subject is the concept of "balancing". While a topic for another thread, it is important to know that balancing is the practice of widening your range so as not to polarize yourself. Basically, you make sure that for any given action, your range is wider than only two types of hands.
For example, when your river shove can be for thin value, as well as nuts or air, then your opponent has a much more difficult decision, and he has to play guessing games as your range is wide. Compare this to situations when your opponent knows you're polarized, he just has to decide if you have the nuts or not. He plays perfectly, and you are toast.
Edit to add: Polarizing and Balancing apply preflop as well, and should not discounted. Many players polarize preflop wihtout realizing it (even winning regs), and great players reap heavy profit from these mistakes. For example, when your cold calling range preflop is PP's and SC' only, you will be manhandled by aggressive 3bettors and squeezers. Or, if your 3betting range is polarized to AK or JJ+ (typical), your opponents will be able to play perfectly against you in a huge pot.
The point is, a player can polarize their hand at any time, on any street. The winning players are those who can recognize and extract value from the players who polarize too frequently, and players who don't realized they are polarized at all.