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Texas Hold'em No Limit Advanced

Hand Reading: Types of Hand Ranges

14,807 Views on 7/2/12

In order to help us describe/understand various types of hand ranges, we are going to consider some useful terminology.

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A 'Hand Range' is the range of possible hands that your particular opponent could be holding.


Let's consider some useful terminology:

Strong – A strong range contains relatively few weak hands compared to strong ones.
Weak – A weak range contains relatively few strong hands compared to weak ones.
Wide – A wide range is one containing a large amount of hands. It is typically a weak range.
Narrow – A narrow range is one containing only a few different hands. It is typically a strong range but not always. It’s possible to have a narrow range containing mainly bluffs.
Polarized - A polarized range is a range is one that is split into polar opposites. It typically contains strong made hands and bluffs but none of the hands in between.

(Onpokerimage any street before the river it is frequent for the bluff part of a polarized range to be consistently stronger than the worst possible hands. For example preflop, when people 3bet a “polarized” range they typically 3bet bluff with hands that are decent but not strong enough to call i.e something like Q9s, but usually never something like 27o. For this reason, to an observer a polarized range may sometimes be perceived as depolarized/merged. Once the river is reached , a truer polarization effect is observed where a good player will bet his absolute worst hands and absolute best hands.)

Occasionally you may also see players (good players even) describe someone's range as being "polarized toward" a specific type of hand. Eg - "His range is polarized toward one pair hands". This demonstrates a misunderstanding of the word "polarization" which implies polar opposites, yet amongst many circles it has become accepted terminology nonetheless, and means the same as “weighted towards”.

Depolarized/Merged – A merged range is a range arranged in a linear manner. If someone 3bets the top 8% of hands they are considered to be 3betting a merged range. It usually describes a value range with no bluffs.

The expression"merging your range" typically applies to river play. It describes when a player bets a slightly weaker hand for value in a situation where they are perceived to be polarized (and therefore not have that weaker hand in their range) in the hopes of getting called by a worse bluff-catcher. Fish unintentionally merge their river range all the time by over-valuing hands that wouldn't typically expect to get 3 streets of value.

Weighted-towards – This implies a range has particular hand combinations that appear more frequently than others. Someone might 3bet a polarized range, “weighted-towards” bluffs. In other words that player is 3bet bluffing more frequently than he is 3betting for value.



I am of British nationality and go by the online alias w34z3l. I am considered one of the top consultants in the field for technical analysis (i.e. database work) and application of game theory concepts to various card games. I make a ... Read More


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