Learn how to merge your range in no limit Texas hold’em poker

There are many advanced concepts in no limit Texas hold’em poker and range merging is one of them. Range merging is an addition to the concept of polarised ranges and to explain that then let us look at a deep stacked example from no-limit Texas hold’em. In this example then we are not going to look at any cards because showing the hands make no difference. In this example you open raise from the cut-off after everyone folds around to you and only the big blind calls.

The heads up battle

There are many hands in no limit Texas hold’em that end up as a heads up encounter. In this hand your opponent checks the flop and you bet and they call. The same thing happens on the turn and when the river card comes then the big blind checks again. This time you shove all in on the river. This is where the action ends because now I am going to ask you what sort of hand do you think you are holding? Try to imagine what type of hands you will hold to raise before the flop and also bet the flop and turn and shove the river.

The nuts and other powerful hands

Clearly you would risk your entire stack with the nuts or close to it in no limit Texas hold’em cash games. Any really powerful hand will lead to you stacking off here. However what if you are an aggressive player or you think that your opponent has a very strong reason to fold? This could be because they are tight or because of the board texture. Now you would have this exact same betting sequence if you ran a multi-barrel bluff wouldn’t you…….of course you would.

Polarising your range

However if you only ever have this betting sequence with fresh air and the nuts then your range is said to be polarised. If your opponents are sophisticated enough to know that then they can call you down with hands that are good bluff catching hands. Like for example if they held 6c-6d in a no limit Texas hold’em cash game and you bet every street on an Ad-Ac-Kh-4s-2s board. The sixes are not strong but are very strong against all fresh air hands because they beat them. In fact even a hand like Q-J is a good bluff catcher in this instance because it beats all other non-paired holdings.

Merging your range

If you find that you are triple barrel bluffing and your opponent calls you with such a hand then it is possible that they have spotted your polarised range and are then calling you with bluff catchers. The way to defeat that strategy in no limit Texas hold’em is to merge your range between the nuts and fresh air and start betting the turn and especially the river with hands that are better than your opponents bluff catching hands. So in the previous example then you could bet with hands like K-x or lower pairs than kings like J-J and T-T for example. This merges your previously polarised hand range quite well and extracts maximum value for your hand.