The poker community seems confused on the topic of "polarized range". We set out to clear things up for good.
Meaning of polarization
The definition of "polarization" is clear:
Polarizing is when a player acts in such a way that his probable hand range splits up between two options - either really strong or really weak.
For example, a player would be polarizing his range if he raised all his very strong hands plus a few bluffs but called with medium strength hands.
So far there are no controversies among poker players. However, is polarizing your range good or bad? Some say it's good, some say it's bad.
Polarization good or bad?
According to our research, it can be both. If you're a good player you can polarize your range in a way that puts the opponent to a hard decision.
On the other hand, if a bad player unwittingly polarizes his range against you, it's something that you can exploit.
A few examples
One way of using polarization to your advantage would be to bet big on the river with a hand that can only be the nuts or air. For example, if the board is paired, a pot sized river bet would often indicate a polarized range since no one would bet big in this situation with, say, a straight..
The opponent now "knows" that he can only beat a bluff, so it's hard to call even with a strong hand like ace-high flush. Balance this and the opponents have a hard time handling your river bets.
A counter example would be if a player always bets out with his strong hands plus some bluffs but always check-calls his middle range. You'll have a load of information and can often outplay him on the flop or later streets.
Polarizing seems to be like most tactical concepts in poker - it's not good or bad per se. Instead it all comes down to how you balance it.
Further reading: Polarizing is related to range merging (TBD).