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When to have a Merged range vs a Polarized one Preflop

Recently done some study on when to have a Merged range vs a Polarized one pre flop. I was wondering a lot about this and after watching a video RunItOnce and doing some work in some poker software programs and this is what I gathered. Just thought I would share this info as I think It is useful and also pretty interesting. If you have a RunItOnce account watching the video on this is probably better than reading my post but this will be my summary for people that don't have an account there.

First note is these situations are generally going to apply more to when you are playing against better players

The very basic summary is you want to have a polarized range in a spot where you want to be flatting a fair amount of hands and you want to have a merged range in a spot where you will pretty much be raising or folding.

The reason for this is when you used a merged range you just 3 bet say the top 10% of hands rather then a polarized range where you 3 bet maybe around the top 5% for value and another 5% of bluffs. (Thats not a perfectly balanced range but these numbers are just for explanation.) So when you use a merged range your flatting range effectively becomes weaker as you are missing the top 10% of hands instead of the top 5%. Say your merged range is very simply 99+,AJs+ AQ+ and your polarized value range is QQ+, Aks, Ak. Your flatting range when you are 3 betting merged is now capped at 88, ATs and Aj while your flatting range for your polarized range still has JJ, AQs, AQ.

Also, if you are going to be pretty much raising or folding there is no need to include worse hands in your range. It makes no sense why you would 3 bet A3s but fold AJ. Why 3 bet AK and like A2s, A3s when you can use AK, ATs, AJs. Not only do AT, AJ have better blockers than A2, A3 but they have more equity against villains range. AJ has much better equity against TT than A3.

An example of some situations where you would want to have a merged range.

Good player opens in EP and you are in the SB. There are not many hands you can profitably call out of the small blind here. Absent of a big fish being the BB its reasonable to say you should just 3 bet or fold here so you would want to use a merged range.

There is a raise by a good player and another good player 3 bets. Generally you don't want to cold call too many 3 bets against good players as it puts your range a little face up. These are spots where I think you should either flat your whole range or cold 4 bet your whole range.

Being OOP against a good player. You generally don't want to flat too much OOP against good players so another spot where a merged range may be better.


Example of some situations where you want a polarized range.

A bad player raises and you are IP. IP against bad players you want to be playing, and flatting a large amount of hands.

You raise IP and someone in the Blinds 3 bets. IP you are going to want to flat some hands here and you want to use a polarized range to make sure you keep some strong hands in your flatting range.

There is a small raise, a lot callers and you are in the BB. Getting a good price in the BB you are going to call with a lot of hands here.

Plenty more example but those are some

Let me know what you think and if you think I said anything wrong. Definitely not an expert on this area.

Comments

  • iamallin Posts: 1,173SubscriberProfessional
    edited March 2016
    I don't have a great deal of knowledge on this matter either. Hopefully Bart or some of the high stakes pros can elucidate these concepts better.

    But I look at constructing the ranges based on how my opponents will react. If they are flatting a lot of 3 bets, I will 3 bet a merged range purely for value.

    If they are folding a lot to 3 bets, I don't see a point of 3 betting merged. We are better off 3 betting with garbage and monsters since we never get called ..we get 4 bet or we win the pot right away.


    Squeeze ranges are more tricky. Again a lot depends on how opponents perceive the squeeze.

    Btw against bad players I don't like 3 betting polarized ranges. They don't fold. You are much better off 3 betting aj and getting him to call with A5s.


    Usually when oop it's better to have a merged range since players will call you more when they have position on you. So you are better off having a decent hand that can win at showdown.


    Have a look at easy game 3rd edition. Andrew Seidman talks a lot about these concepts in that book. Very good book.
  • carru036 Posts: 173Subscriber
    edited March 2016
    My thought process coming from an online background is that live you typically want to have a depolarized (merged) 3bet range as obviously ppl are calling 3bets too loose, and not 4betting often at all (often as narrow as KK+) Also, just because you have a depolarized 3bet range, this doesn't mean you can't ever flat as you mention in the scenario vs a tight EP open, do you really think 3betting 88 or AQ will really be more profitable than calling here?

    One thing that I didn't see mentioned in your post is that how your opponents react to 3bets is a huge consideration in whether we should have a polarized range or not. For example, online there are extreme examples of people who will either 4 bet or fold to a 3 bet and have a call 3bet % of 0. Against these people, depending on their opening range and 4bet %, you definitely want to 3bet a polarized range. This is because we want the top of our range (Typically AK, QQ+) but sometimes wider or narrower depending on opponent, in our 3 bet - 5 bet get it in range. We then want to have hands that are just on the cusp of being not profitable enough to call his open in our 3-bet / fold to 4bet range like K9, Small Ax, T7s. If I remember correctly, if our opponent folds to 3bets 66% of the time we show an auto profit with this strategy and should keep doing this until he adjusts, then adjust our strategy accordingly.

    Obviously this isn't directly applicable live and you won't have someone who never calls 3bets. More often than not you will have people calling 3bets too wide and not 3betting wide enough.

  • stayinschool Posts: 2,969Subscriber
    carru036 said:
    My thought process coming from an online background is that live you typically want to have a depolarized (merged) 3bet range as obviously ppl are calling 3bets too loose, and not 4betting often at all (often as narrow as KK+) Also, just because you have a depolarized 3bet range, this doesn't mean you can't ever flat as you mention in the scenario vs a tight EP open, do you really think 3betting 88 or AQ will really be more profitable than calling here?

    One thing that I didn't see mentioned in your post is that how your opponents react to 3bets is a huge consideration in whether we should have a polarized range or not. For example, online there are extreme examples of people who will either 4 bet or fold to a 3 bet and have a call 3bet % of 0. Against these people, depending on their opening range and 4bet %, you definitely want to 3bet a polarized range. This is because we want the top of our range (Typically AK, QQ+) but sometimes wider or narrower depending on opponent, in our 3 bet - 5 bet get it in range. We then want to have hands that are just on the cusp of being not profitable enough to call his open in our 3-bet / fold to 4bet range like K9, Small Ax, T7s. If I remember correctly, if our opponent folds to 3bets 66% of the time we show an auto profit with this strategy and should keep doing this until he adjusts, then adjust our strategy accordingly.

    Obviously this isn't directly applicable live and you won't have someone who never calls 3bets. More often than not you will have people calling 3bets too wide and not 3betting wide enough.

    Yea i left a fair amount of stuff out I just wanted to get a discussion going really.
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