2016 Midpoint

I wrote up some plans, goals, and observations in the post-holiday dark.  Then I updated it in March: How was I doing a little past sunrise?

Now, a July update: How am I doing (a little past) Midyear?

…is the year I read poker books again…. what will Applications change?

March: I’m taking it seriously and reading it slowly.  I also inherited some unwanted poker books, one of which will figure into my research in a very timely fashion. July: Got distracted and just finished Ed Miller’s Poker’s 1% instead. It’s a great book and more immediately useful than I thought it would be. In particular, I was surprised at some of his recommendations toward the end of the book, which align more closely with how I play than I could have hoped. My biggest question is his theory of medium strength hands, because he believes in polarization and not merging, as a principle. Perhaps these hands should be held back from betting, but he also puts them into a calling range rather than turning them into bluffs or thin value raises or protection raises. It’s refreshing in a way, because it is all so simple, rather than complex.

The biggest myth in or about the book, which the author perpetuates by stating somewhere early on, is that hand reading would become unnecessary if you simply got all frequencies correct. He does not mean this bit in any grammatical or meaningful way, it turns out, and it should be rewritten, because over and over again he suggests that the board and player actions will affect frequencies- that’s really what most of the second half is about. Well, what do you think hand reading is? Once this overstatement is removed, the mystery of the book is no longer so intense. It’s about balance intersecting ever more with optimal frequencies, with these frequencies based on a straightforward version of unexploitability, NOT pot odds or pure GTO concerns. It is a real way forward with your poker game and far more practical than reviewers have led on.

…is my first year as a handgun owner… will I actually use it when needed?

March: I’m having an issue acquiring it, having the thought the purchase was imminent, and have lost my enthusiasm at least for the moment. July: Purchased it, a simple and modestly handsome .38 SpecialExercising this essential right and privilege of a free citizenry is something to be happy about in theory, but it in reality it is pretty mundane. Although they are inexorably linked philosophically, our first amendment rights are in general more useful than the second’s, even if equally always under cultural pressure from those who would resubjectivize us.

 …is the year I put the screenplay on Blacklist… but is Amazon’s reformed sweatshop the incinerator it belongs in?

March: Probably 99.9% of spec scripts disappear into the dreamosphere. In 2014 less than 100 were purchased by major studios. I don’t feel optimistic about the outcome even though I am at work and believe in my fever visions. You have to consider that every successful screenwriter basically tells you that success is nearly impossible, in the same fashion that every lawyer I knew, while I was considering law school and they were wallowing in cash, told me law was a terrible idea. July: Unhappy with idea and also know too much about Blacklist now, which I see now is a more than ironic name, and whose members will not be favorable to my work, which is essentially moral/tragic in nature rather than relativistic/affirmatory, the theme that unites every piece they have promoted.

…is the year I hit the USTA… how much more abuse can my body take?

March: I took a bad turn healthwise and this is delayed. July: Back in the tennis club! It’s stuffy. Next time I recommend the installation of FANS and WATER FOUNTAINS.

…is the year I get back into German and Chinese… do any of my languages serve any purpose?

March: I am looking forward to this but have not started. July: not even an effort so far. Utter blank and likely to remain so.

…is the year I vote against Hillary… but does the head matter while the foundation rots?

March: I don’t even sure I will vote now. While most people are too short sighted to see that ideas matter more than identity, I may have to pick other battles and walk the walk conscientiously.  July: The #NeverTrump people I am somewhat allied with were naught but a dinghy in the waves, it turns out… not unlike a cash game player in Limon’s expert analogy. I think Gary Johnson is almost too silly to support, sadly. I see now that #NeverTrump failed not because of the commitment of its creators, who labored every day and many of whom have incredibly broad influence, but because many of them do not even belong to the party, just as I don’t, and are merely conservative in nature, true old Liberals in the classical, meaningful sense. Political planks don’t mesh with political principles that well, because one is practice and the other theory. The other, simpler problem is the greed of the parties, who are in fact private clubs, but who have turned their candidate selection processes into bloated public affairs, cannibalizing all the space for alternative thought and media attention, and ensuring that no one else inhabits the stage in a M.A.D. power pact.

Well, to hell with them. Freed from voting by my conscience, it seems: sometimes duty doesn’t call but just sits around with a mojito. Only whim will bring me to the polls now, although I still have the problem of having to listen to people espouse a candidate who has no actual accomplishments save the enrichment of her family, as the defense against a vulgar businessman. They are so silly, selfish, and shortsighted it is hard to take even some very serious people seriously these days. For instance, I’ve subscribed to the NYer almost my entire adult life and never have their articles and thought reached such a low point as during this past year, and like an infection, this failing seems to have spread to many other subjects and non-political pieces. Compromise and the effort to please destroys.

…is the year we finish translating La Fete d’Insignifiance… does poker make me less or more like those men?

March: Poker is sometimes a Pain Box, right out of Frank Herbert. Those guys are smarter than me but are fighting for nothing and stand less of a chance of changing than even me. They would snap fold to the suffering. July: one chapter to go! The convergence and discussion of culture, France, masculinity, and Stalin himself has been terrific. This part of my life I will greatly miss should I in fact move on.

…is the final year of “Hare Rabbitt’s Poker Club.”  … red faux crocodile, anyone?

March: Not much interest in the games from my player pool for months, then suddenly a heartbeat. I felt the rhythm was right to close it out, but I’ll keep an open mind, if only because I have some duties to the game. July: Too hot for the home game! Been planning a poker retreat on the water for interested parties, but response might be too low locally for me to even announce it on RC.

…is the year I institute a static range… but is it a step forward?

This is in fact impossible, I have discovered, but the effort to do it has cleaned up some of my leaks. My range in all positions is much more consistent now, but all the reads I make and exploitative plays I make just can’t be constrained by arbitrary concerns, however legitimate. In theory it’s somewhat wrong and I will have to live with that knowledge for now. The good news is the effort to create and to make something happen always deepens one’s understanding. July: remains dropped but I appreciate the time with it, and after reading 1% I am interested in further nuances. Following carefully many of the forum posts, I came to the conclusion that board coverage isn’t just a nicety of range building, but even more essential than I thought. It’s one of the reasons ever-delightful poster Austin flubs this one up: he has a range designed to felt morons and be easy to play, but he’s not playing against them nor does he have the hands to do what he wants to do in these awkward situations.

…is the year I buy a new motorcycle… can I be happy without a shaft drive?

We’ll see, been focused elsewhere. July: Well, started by donating the old one to the ASPCA. I had bought it originally to commence a new life but became something of a symbol of my poor choices after I finally got my degree. Came within a day or so of buying a very nice one. However, it made an old Harley enthusiast’s year that I let it go, so there’s that. A coin flip.

…is the first year my writing group pays for itself… what was the point of that, again?

I give them more than they give me. 5/6 of the group dropped out rather than pay a nominal fee, revealing their level of seriousness. Like the Poker Club, I am beginning to see an end game here, perhaps. On the other hand, the writers who stuck around have all the potential and can earn all the glory. July: it’s working really well in some respects. Paid membership has increased commitment if not numbers. However, the truth is I have not been focused on the group and as I go, so goes it. Also, a close friend is losing interest in it. It’s nearing time to pass it on to more excited and motivated members.

…is the year I rejoin the neighborhood council… are they still unprincipled NIMBYs?

I met up with one of the leaders and she was so phony I was discouraged. My neighborhood is trash and sometimes there is nothing to do but leave. July: Neighborhood remains shitty. Bike chop shop shut down however. As a formerly active part of a neighborhood association, I see the long view. The philosophy of trying to protect society’s most cretinous at the expense of those just trying to fulfill a sliver of the American dream is short sighted. Standards get people off the street, I’ve learned, more than accommodations. It’s difficult to talk about these things, and I finally understand why communities of thought segregate themselves so: true explicatory power is possibly even rarer than worthy ideas themselves.

However, this dump is becoming a part of my past faster than I could imagine: Am planning a move to a much more exciting and important dump: L.A. Had looked at Philadelphia, which seemed like my kind of town, but I want (and possibly need) to be closer to family. NY is a bit far fetched, even if it is the dream and the only place I feel at ease.

So, I’m going to read Thomas Pynchon, lose some weight, buy some sunglasses, play some cards: instant local. 

Instant new life.


  1. Poker books: I have a nice collection..let me know if you want to trade (or just borrow). I also have back copies of Cardplayer in case you enjoy reading the exploits of tourney degens and getting advice from 70 year olds who made a killing back in the day. Oh and Jon Little/Ed Miller/Bart Hanson so there is some value in those mags.

    Handguns: I hate the idea of owning one but may eventually succumb. I’m getting up there in age and live by the woods, with the odd vagrant nearby. Hmm.

    USTA; I am also hitting some more this summer when home. I’ll try to make it into Seattle some time and either expect to get beaten or get lucky and catch you on a bad day.

    Vote against Hillary: As a Canadian, no right to comment. As a taxpaying USA perm resident, I hope to fuck that the orange clown doesn’t get elected. Having lived in three countries with variations of systems and governance, I don’t care too much about the personality of my leaders but do care about keeping our super complex economic and social system (“quasi-democracy”) up and running.The way to keep out the orange is to hold your nose and vote for the lady dragon. Or cop out and hope that others do the job for you.

    La Fete d’Insignifiance: I have no idea what the fuck that is but it sounds like fun.

    Hare Rabbit: I wish I had made more of the sessions. So sorry it looks like it’ll go away. I got quite a bit of my live poker education in that room, some of it the hard way.

    Static range: I’m all about static opening ranges ha ha. I posit that a lot of the dynamism of the NL game is shifting from pre to post flop play. But I’m not sure I can quantify that sentiment given the low volume I put in and the stakes (low cash, a bit higher tourney).

  2. Good to hear from you.

    Now that I am reading poker books again, I might take you up on that. Next is James Sweeney’s handreading workbook.

    Naturally if I was interested in propping up the status quo, as you suggest, I’d be very excited about Hillary. Being against Trump does not mean Hillary is somehow more acceptable, and pretending that was so just to make a point would be just another cop out, I’m afraid.

    We should have a few more games before I make my belated exit.


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The OOP Lexicon is a user-developed poker glossary.

Absolute Position
Being last to act (e.g. closest to the button) postflop.

Advancing Leverage
Aggressive actions intended to shift the leverage point closer to the current street.

A bluff or value hand which is a natural candidate for balancing another hand because of their shared qualities, such as AA and AK; usually helps planning range splitting and line construction.

Auto profit threshold (APT)
A bluff made with positive expectation resulting from the opponent under defending vis-a-vis bet sizing. The inverse of MDF.

Choosing to support either value bets or bluffs with their converse.

A bet is a proposition.  It’s the first offer on the pot with regard to the outcome of the game. Each player, in turn, has the opportunity to lay or change the price on the pot to the rest of the players. “The language of poker.” The bet, as opposed to the raise, is most often and most easily allied to the merged pricing construction.

To remove combinations of hands from a range based on cards in your hand or on the board.

Cards which influence our combinatorial assumptions. Ex: We face resistance on T76ss while we hold As7d. Both our cards act as blockers. Our ace of spades blocks (limits) a number of flush draws our opponent could hold, while our seven blocks a number of two pair and sets our opponent could hold. *See also Block and Unblock

Blocker Bet
A small bet made by an out-of-position player.

Board Texture
The available community cards and the set of conditions which inform its relationship to a logical range.

The worst hands in a betting range.  Depending on context this could be the worst hand in a value bet range or the bluffing section of polarized range.

A range descriptor indicating a range shape with a specific high or low boundary.  A range bounded high won't contain some number of the best linear hands ranked from the top down.  This is equivalent to a "capped" range.  A range bounded low won't contain some number of the worst linear hands ranked from the bottom up.  This is often useful to describe a range that doesn't include any air or very weak hands.

A strategic mode in which a player is attempting to deny their opponent(s) equity share of the pot through aggression. Often referred to as “denying equity” or “buying up equity”.

A range is capped when it represents little to no nutted combinations as confirmed by prior action.

A continuation bet. A bet made by the player with initiative as a continuation of their initiative on a prior street.

The ability to accurately range an opponent based on all available information at a decision point.  An understanding of your hands exact equity.

Closing Action
Acting last where no subsequent action is possible behind you.  For example calling a UTG raise in the BB or calling in position postflop with no players behind.

Cold Call/Cold Bet
An action is considered “cold” when it comes from a player entering into the pot has not previously put chips voluntarily in the pot. Ex: the UTG opens, the BTN 3bets. If the SB were to call or raise, it would be a cold-call or a cold-4bet.

The branch of mathematics the deals with finite number sets. Used in poker in determining the amount of combinations of certain hands in a range.

When a blind that is not the biggest blind calls the amount of the biggest blind. Ex: At $2/$5, action folds around to the SB and the SB completes. Meaning they just call. The BB can complete when there is a straddle.

A capped range that contains only middling value hands. A range without the polarized portion.

Logical advancement of combinations across streets.

Dark Side of the Deck
The large swath of hands, often off-suit, that fall outside of conventional playable recommendations. Counter-equity hands.

Dead Money
Money in the pot that is not being fought for.  A passive player creates dead money when they call a bet preflop and looking to play fit-or-fold postflop. Dead Money is often confused with the money in the pot.

Delayed Cbet
A cbet made on the turn by the preflop raiser when the flop checked through.

Delaying Leverage
Passive actions intended to maintain a likely late street leverage point, or possibly to avoid a leverage point entirely.

A strategic break from one’s standard construction as an exploit of a particular player’s profile or construction.

Diminishing Medium Value Category
A Seidman concept in which when one’s middling value hand range is too small and transparent to our opponent and thus either that range should be shifted into the top of a polarized range or the nutted portion should be shifted into the medium value range. Ex: AQo or TT being 3bet preflop.

A cbet that is less than the preflop raise. Ex: BTN opens to $25, we 3bet to $90 from the SB, BTN calls. On the flop we cbet $70.

Dry Board
A board texture that yields relatively few logical hands value. Often containing one medium or high card and disconnected low cards. Ex: Q53r, T622r.

Dual Mentalities
A Seidman concept in which when we decide to go postflop with a weak hand against a nutted range, we should either be looking to out flop it or steal the pot away. We base our decision against the player type we are up against and never go post with both mentalities at once.

Dynamic Board
A flop texture in which the runout is very likely to change the order of top ranking hands. Ex: 954tt, 742r.

Effective Stack
The smallest stack to VPIP in a given hand. Their stack decides the amount of money that can be played for or threatened before an all-in.

Effective nuts
A value hand that can be played for stacks as if it were the actual nuts.  This is a relative hand ranking based on range assumptions and opponent type.

A measure of how well the equity of a hand is deployed. Efficiency can also be used as a measure of what is risked vs what is gained for a given bet size.

Either/Or Philosophy
A Seidman concept in which a particular street can be a very good spot for value, meaning our opponent is never folding, or a very good spot to bluff, meaning our opponent is never calling, but that those spots cannot be concurrent.

Borrowed from economics, a measure of the sensitivity of a range or hand relative to the price offered.  Ranges (or hands) described as elastic will narrow, sometimes quickly, in response to increases in price.  Those described as inelastic will not.

The percent pot share of a holding or range on any given street if the hand were to go to showdown with no further betting action.

Equity Pusher
A analytic approach to the game in which a player views the correct actions only through the lens of their hands equity vs. their opponent’s range. Often this player type has a lack of understanding of overall strategy and plays their range face up with few bluffs.

Expected Value
The mathematical formula for how much a player’s action is expected to make with their hand vs. their opponent’s range. EV = ($towin * %ofwin) - ($tolose * %ofloss)

Face Up
A player is playing their range “face up” when their actions directly correspond with their desired outcome. Ex: A player bets half-pot three streets with a range that has no bluffs. A player 3bets to 7x with JJ.

False Polarization
Otherwise known as Faux-Po; a polarizing action taken with a merged range.

The result of losing your entire table stakes. All the way down to the felt.

A call of a cbet with a weak holding with the likely intention of taking the pot away when the opponent shuts down. Often done by an in position preflop caller.

The convergence of positions, stack depths, and preceding actions at a given decision point.

A mathematical formula developed by Phil Galfond for calculating the expected value of one’s range construction vs. an opponent’s holding.

A computer programming term that means "garbage in, garbage out" which also applies to poker forums when a poster seeks an in-depth conversation about a hand, but fail to provide pertinent information such as stack sizes, bets sizes, table dynamics and player tendencies.

Game Theory
The applied science of combining mathematical models with logic to craft winning poker strategies.

Game Theory Optimal
A set of strategies is GTO if no player can unilaterally deviate and increase his average profit. ~ Will Tipton.  GTO does not mean best possible response, highest EV, or maximally exploitative play.

Implied Odds
Additional value likely to be accrued if you make your hand on a later street.

Sometimes referred to as the betting lead, a common situation in which the passive player yields to the aggressive player postflop, or the last aggressor continues betting on subsequent streets.

A bet or raise intended to force out the rest of the field in order to play heads up against a weaker opponent who has entered the pot through limping, raising, or posting the blinds.

Loose aggressive player type. Generally overused and inaccurate.

A bet made from out of position after a passive action. Often referred to as a donk bet on the flop.

He knows that I know that he knows I know.

A bet or raise that signals the hand will be played for stacks.  Within reason, it is accomplished by betting with a sizing that will create RSP equal to 1 on the following street.

Limp First In

A consecutive range of hands decreasing in strength from top to bottom; generally meaning value hands. Equivalent to "merged."

Lockdown Board
A board on which the nuts have often already been made.  More prevalent in PLO but sometimes useful in no-limit, for example on monotone flops and boards with available common straights e.g. JT9, T98, 987, etc.

1) A range of hands that includes both strong and medium value; 2) in reference to medium value; 3) the merged construction describes the natural representation of a wide range through a bet.

Mini Stop-N-Go
A Seidman concept, a line taken by a OOP PFR where flop is check/called and turn is lead.

Minimum Defense Frequency (MDF)
The necessary defending (calling/raising) frequency to prevent an opponent from auto-profiting.  The inverse of APT.

Natural Action
A check, bet, or raise which is exactly suited to a player's range and situation (e.g. a pfr's continuation bet on AK2r).

A player who will not put chips into the pot without a very strong and sometimes only nutted hand.

The best possible hand.

Nuts-To-Air Ratio (NAR)
In a polarized betting line, the ratio of value to bluff.  As used by Seidman, not limited to polarization but sometimes used to label general opponent tendency of value to bluff.

Old Man Coffee. Typically an older, retired player that likes to play bingo with ATC, but will only continue with the nuts.

The first voluntary action. The first action or bet to voluntarily enter the pot.

A bet that is more than the size of the pot.

Perceived Range
Refers to the range of hands that your opponent thinks you could have in a certain playing situation. This can be interpreted and thus misinterpreted from your playing style and position at the table.

A range consisting of very strong and very weak hands.

Post Oak Bluff
A small bluff on a late street that has little chance of winning the pot.  Generally interpreted as “gutless” in the past but now fulfilling certain functions as betting efficiencies are understood.

Positional Protection
When the strength of a range is perceived to be capped or uncapped based on which position an action is taken from.

When an action or player is perceived to have strong hands in its range.

Protection Bet
A wager which denies equity to hands which will only give action if they significantly improve; "a value bet which does not want a call."

The rejection of the offered price and the laying of a new higher price.  Raises represent a more narrow range of hands and trend towards polarization.

Range Advantage
Implementation or study tool that refers to 1) most basically, equity measurement of one range against another; 2) or also including a combination of further factors including availability of nutted hands, the nuances of the runout, and positional protection.

Range Manipulation
Deliberate line work/bet sizing made to narrow a range or keep a range wide.

Range Switch
A deliberate change in range composition made to thwart a player who is reading our range too accurately in any spot.  Reduces transparency, fights assumptions, and wins the leveling war if implemented correctly.

Ratio of Stack To Pot
RSP. The stack to pot ratio at any point in a hand, generally used post-flop as opposed to Stack to Pot Ratio.

Taking a hand to showdown and realizing its full equity.  Generally used with regard to passive actions.

The mutual exchange of chips resulting from similar play and ideas.  Reciprocity is a common bi-product of group-think.  A true edge by definition cannot be reciprocal.

Relative Position
A player’s position measured against the aggressor's position.  Generally this is used going to the flop.  For example, if UTG raises and several players call behind, calling in the big blind would give you the best relative position.  You will act after seeing how the field responds to a likely continuation from the preflop aggressor.  In the same scenario calling immediately after the preflop aggressor results in the worst relative position.  You will have to act immediately after a continuation without seeing how the remaining players will respond.  Strong relative position confers an information edge.

The ability of hand to maintain equity across streets against a betting range or as part of a betting range.

Reverse Implied Odds (RIO)
Hands that often win small pots or lose large pots suffer from reverse implied odds.

Popularized by Mathew Janda, a descriptor for how well a hand retains equity over streets of play.  Hands described as robust have equity that does not suffer as an opponent's range becomes stronger.  Often these hands are currently both strong and invulnerable, or have the ability to become very strong by the river, relative to the opponent's range.

Fourth and Fifth Street cards following a given flop texture.

Scale of Protection
Poker theorem which states that the more protected or strong an opponent's range is, the higher the degree of denial or retention a counter will require.

Sklansky Bucks
Dollars won (or lost) in expected value regardless of actual hand result.

Any one of many possible poker archetypes found at low stakes games.

A reraise made after a player has raised and one or more players has called in-between.

Static Board
A flop texture in which the runout is unlikely to change the order of top ranking hands. Ex: AK7r, KK4r.

A passive action followed by an aggressive action, out of position.  For example, a call followed by a lead on the next street.

Streets of Value
A crude shorthand measurement for how much betting a hand can tolerate and still be best at showdown more often than not.

Tight aggressive opponent type. Generally overused and misapplied.

TAG's Dilemma
The paradox created by having a top-heavy range played so aggressively that it misuses equity vis-à-vis position and holding.

The Great Range Fantasy
The common idea that we know our opponent’s range and frequencies precisely; most commonly seen in post-hoc analysis to justify microedge decisions.

Thin Value
A bet that is only slightly more likely to be called by worse than by better. Associated with the merged pricing construction and bet-fold lines.

Three Fundamentals
The most fundamental variables for decision making: position, stack size, and community cards.

The best hands in a given range.

Two-Way Bet
A bet that expects calls from worse hands and incorrect folds at the same time, a simultaneous value bet and bluff line.

The psychological effect of feeling like you’re losing because your stack size isn’t as large as it once was during a session, even though it’s more than what you’re in the game for.

(e.g. You bought in for $100, ran it up $450, but now only have $175 in front of you.)

A hand that has no negative card removal effects on the target range.  Bottom set, for example, unblocks top pair top kicker.

A range that is perceived to contain the nuts in any given line.  Capped ranges may become uncapped during transitions for example from preflop to flop, or flop to turn.

A turned nut straight after raising flop with a gutter.

Value Owning
Making value bets with a hand that has less than 50% equity when called.

Voluntarily Put Money In Pot (VPIP)
The frequency at which a player limps, calls, or raises preflop.

Volatile Board
A flop texture where equities will often shift on the turn and river.  See “dynamic”.

An illusory cooler where one player makes a massive mistake equity mistake and loses his stack with a strong but second best hand; also known as a Jam Basket.

Wet Board
A board texture that allows for a lot of logical hands to continue. Often made up of medium rank connected cards. Ex: KT9tt, Tc8c6s-7c-Ac.

“Walk In, Fuck Shit Up, Walk Out” a hashtag used by instagram poker players.

Winning Player
A forum poster who offers reciprocal advice under the guise of questionable positive low stakes results. A weak player or fish, in general.

Young Man Coffee. Is very much an OMC, but younger.  They usually only continue with the nuts, often under the illusion of playing a GTO style.