What is ‘Polarized’?
If a player describes their current hand or their range of hands as polarized, they mean that there is a very wide gap between the strongest possible hand and the weakest one. The term usually applies to a hand at the early stages of the game, or to the various hands built over the course of the game as different actions are taken.
Polarized in poker refers to a range of possible hands that lie towards either end of the available spectrum – that is, the hand held when actions are taken could become extremely strong or extremely weak. Polarized hands are difficult to bet on because there is a high amount of risk involved. However, they carry the chance of a big payoff.
For example, a player might hold 4C-JH-QH-KH-AH before the draw. They will obviously exchange the 4 for another card in the hope of completing the royal flush with a 10H. However, if the player draws any of the cards 2-9 which are not a heart, their hand is reduced to a single high ace. Even a pair will beat this. The hand is said to be polarized – depending on how the following actions turn out, the range of hands includes the strongest one possible, and one of the weakest.
Players might talk about a ‘polarised game’ or a range of hands that are polarized, meaning that over the course of they game they saw a big variation in the types of hand they held. Poker games themselves can also be said to be polarised if some players are winning significantly while others are suffering bad losses – where the luck seems to be falling heavily on some and less on others. Players can also enter contests with polarized play styles – some going with tight, conservative play while others aggressively fire large bets at the pot and challenge on almost every hand they are dealt.