behavior

Performament Patty vs. Mace Daddy

The dust-up between Dr. Patricia Cardner and Mason Malmuth looks dormant. Celebrity skirmishes are usually fun to watch- especially when destiny brings competitors uncomfortably close to reality.  Abe Limon, High Priest of L.A. poker, attempted to act for Fate last month, but even he cannot release the statue’s tears or make the lame walk every time.

Unfortunately, this fight was never on par with the great ones. Ken Starr versus Bill Clinton. Milo Yiannopoulos versus Twitter.  Snoopy versus the Red Baron. In fact, what is noticeable about this flare-up over “poker psychology” is that, like most disagreements (unfortunately) the two parties actually agree on most points.  The real issue (again, unfortunately) is public decorum and a certain lack of imagination in proportioning where the truth lies.

Dr. Patricia Cardner, with at least one doctorate, the relevant one I think from Sam Houston State University (dissertation on high performance in competition), and now extensively connected mental game author and podcaster, first posted in December of 2008 on Twoplustwo.com, the preeminent poker forum, looking for insight into what poker players would want in a psychology workshop.  This inquiry set the tone for her intermittent involvement in that forum: a perspective of looking from the outside of the strategic game in.

Three years after her first post, this comment:

05-09-2011, 05:31 PM  #13
LaProfessora

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Re: Philisophical/Psychological Poker Books?

Working through Jared’s book myself. It is written by a guy who really understands psychology, so it is a different spin from most of the “mindset” books that are written by players who have little knowledge of psychology (from a theoretical as well as a practical view)

 

So, very early in the set of her publicly available post on Twoplustwo, she dismisses, probably necessarily, the practical knowledge one might have of one’s own mind, and wants to focus on institutionally approved study.  Thus is a collision course set with the ruminating gambling autodidact Mr. Malmuth, curmudgeonly mathematician, noted poker author, and, not incidentally, owner of Twoplustwo itself.  A man, it would seem, who does like winning and has flouted an apology letter from Dutch Boyd like a captured flag on the front page of his site for a superfluous number of months.

Both seem to have come from Florida, but they share little else besides a certain hot temperature. That Dr. Cardner, who had chosen the romance language handle, and thus attitude, of The Professor, a position which was not going to sit well with a man who actually uses the image of a relaxed, reclining, and about to pontificate Milton Friedman himself as his avatar, should be obvious.  The narcissorometer, therefore, was registering for these two even before the race light turned green, and it did in September of 2013, in the “Books and Publications” thread positive poker vs. mental game of poker:

 

12-05-2013, 09:01 PM  #5
Mason Malmuth

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Re: positive poker vs mental game of poker

Quote:

Originally Posted by LaProfessora

Here’s an example of how this book differs from others that are available. Most everyone knows that you have to be mentally tough to make it in poker. Instead of just telling you this, I explain what mental toughness is and how you can increase it with actionable things that you can do at the table (as well as away from it).

Tricia

Hi Tricia:

Let me ask you a somewhat different question. Suppose you were a video poker player and was playing a machine where the expectation was positive, and you have memorized the optimal strategy for that machine. Do you need to be mentally tough to always make the correct plays?

Best wishes,
Mason

 

From here on (NB: Mr. Malmuth has co-authored a book on video poker, no less), everything in their now two year plus feud has been series of variations on this single theme, but it is this post from Dr. Cardner which in fact made the war explicit:

 09-13-2015, 04:58 PM  #17
LaProfessora

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Re: Book Announcement: Real Poker Psychology by Mason Malmuth

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth

Hi Everyone:

I’m currently writing a new poker book called Real Poker Psychology and this will be the first book I’ve been an author on since 2004. We expect to release it around the end of the year.

Also, since I’m a mathematician and know little about psychology, this should make me uniquely qualified to write this book.

Here’s the Table of Contents.

Best wishes,
Mason

Introduction…

 

Mason,

I’m just back from my tennis lesson and find myself so refreshed and energized from the 2 hours of court time. Of course, it could just be the wheat grass juice shot that has contributed to my clear thinking today, but be that as it may, I have been contemplating your upcoming, sure to be the first of its kind, poker psychology book. I have a few suggestions that I believe can help you take it over the top!

I admire your willingness to attempt writing a comprehensive book on poker psychology. It is difficult to imagine how someone without a scintilla of experience or knowledge in the field would even know where to start, but once I saw your table of contents, I was truly astounded.

Upon further reflection, I feel I must point out that you’ve missed a few keystone topics. As this is to be the book of real poker psychology, I don’t want you to miss a thing. So in no particular order, let me fire off a few suggestions for you to consider.
• Four mistaken goals of behavior: Attention, Power, Revenge, and Inadequacy (see especially the works of Rudolf Dreikurs and Alfred Adler for more on this)
• Understanding the effects of the various personality disorders that can impede success (i.e. narcissism, borderline personality, schizo-affective disorder)
• Coping with FOMO (fear of missing out) – a rapidly growing affliction particularly correlated with the increase in environmental noise
• Knowing your mental limits but going beyond them anyway
• Your complete guide to the three decision-making philosophies (especially with regards to current research on Bayes’ Theorem and it’s lack of functional utility at the poker table)
• Owning up to an overblown ego especially when it is due to overcompensation (see the works of Sigmund Freud for a thorough review)
• Utilizing compensation behaviors to cover up an inferiority complex (Alfred Adler originated the concept and Karen Horney expanded upon it at great length)
There are even more areas that you could surely cover in your book. As soon as I have given it some more thought, I will update the thread.

Best Wishes,
Dr. Tricia Cardner

P.S. I will be looking forward to reading this in it’s entirety and I’ll be looking closely at your fully annotated and correctly cited bibliography that I am sure will adhere to current APA standards.

 

This is, behind the wheat grass, a very tough tack by Dr. Cardner, not one without validity because she is comfortably in her field, but one wherein she overplays her hand in an effort to reestablish authority rather than engage- or simply disengage. Psychology, or in fact, any field, is not delimited to and by its professional organizations.  These associations set standards and ensure the relatively stable quality of their adherents, but to claim authority over a genre of thought is to make an intellectual overstep because it turns a field into a brand. The inquiring spirit and mind has every right, and should be encouraged to, find the cracks where the light gets in.  Dr. Cardner’s error may be a common one – consider the arrogance of even your otherwise likeable family doctor vis-à-vis intuitive concerns about your own body — but it remains one nevertheless and becomes one of the rubrics for their longstanding feud.

It can’t be much of a surprise that this approach, combined with its breezy condescension, has the effect of completely retrenching the offended (and apparently ready to be offended, as in several places he writes of anticipating blowback) Mr. Malmuth, and he begins to take on, openly and by implication, not only Dr. Cardner, but her field itself.  (At some point he even drops the title from her name, and begins stubbornly calling her Cardner.)  Putting the screw to the amateur in the guise of helpfulness should probably be beneath the professional. Her post, then, was the red flag to the bull, as this and related posts show:

09-13-2015, 09:23 PM  #36
Mason Malmuth

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Re: Book Announcement: Real Poker Psychology by Mason Malmuth

Quote:

Originally Posted by Doc T River

I am guessing that she is saying that since you are using psychology in the title, you should adhere to standards for psychology books. She is not saying the poker part is not right.

Further guessing APA stands for American Psychological Association or some such.

Hi Doc:

I’m sure you’re right. But again, as I think you already know from dealing with me over the years, I don’t care.

Best wishes,
Mason

 

While the battle heats predictably – you can find the conversation spilling now over into multiple threads, Twitter, Dr. Cardner’s Homepage, and even happy go lucky Red Chip itself – several interesting interludes develop that are worth noting.  Going back to the Positive Poker vs. Mental Game of Poker thread, the author of the latter book, Jared Tendler, probably the most eminent poker mental game expert, comes close to agreeing to with Mr. Malmuth in a series of intersecting questions.  However, he is not completely in favor of the Mr. Malmuth’s generalities:

 09-19-2014, 08:36 AM  #57
Jared Tendler

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Re: positive poker vs mental game of poker

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth


A Mathematical Model of “Tilt” — Cause and Cure

by Mason Malmuth

Mason,

While I agree with you that a gap in logic, or a logical discontinuity, is part of the equation for what causes tilt, what’s missing in your analysis is a clear identification of the byproduct of a logical discontinuity within poker. You identify humor as the byproduct of a joke, so naturally there would be a byproduct for poker too. I think it can be seen from the description you give of players who are tilting: getting upset, playing in aggressive manner, demanding, yelling, and steaming. In other words, they’re angry. Anger is the byproduct of a logical discontinuity in poker.

Being angry doesn’t automatically mean a player will play suboptimally. For example, a player who gets pissed off for having made a few mistakes early into a session/tournament and uses that anger as motivation to perform at a high level thereafter. Most often, however, anger leads to suboptimal play. Why anger sometimes leads to bad play can be explained by the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which shows the relationship between emotion and performance.

When any emotion rise too high —anger, fear, excitement, etc—higher brain functions, like thinking, are compromised. The brain “shorts out” as you say…

…A logical discontinuity is what causes anger in the first place. So I agree with you that understanding the reality of poker is critical. However, I disagree that all of the causes of tilt can be cured with this one solution our analysis of the cause and cure of tilt…

 

Is anger really the byproduct of poker discontinuity?  Whatever the answer may be (it is not the only byproduct, most likely; all this sounds bizarrely black and white and faux scientific), but Mr. Malmuth’s definition of anger is also completely off, even though the free market theorist, trapped by his perfunctory platitudes, perfectly understands him:

Anger is a state of the mind not being able to work correctly.

Anger extends far past misunderstanding, and points to the murky depths Dr. Cardner and her field attempts to provide some order to. In fact, it is sometimes the reasonableness of righteous indignation that is most striking.  However, the question from Mr. Malmuth: is there a place for it in poker, nay, winning poker?

This nearly unnoticed commentary is revelatory:

I think you take this term too literally; it’s doesn’t have to mean a physical fight.

Of course it means that. It doesn’t mean that every “fight or flight” will result in a physical fight, but it does mean that there should be some fights in the poker room and there are virtually none.

Mr. Malmuth’s point in answering Tendler this way points to the very controlled and non-physical nature of poker, which is part of the Twoplustwo publisher’s argument: poker is not in the realm of what needs mental management so much as logical analysis.  He is implying that focusing on the mental game may or may not be helpful, but that it is a sort of category error, and that the lack of altercations is subtle empirical evidence of his assertion. Anger and tilt, he suggests, are often obviated by understanding, unnoticed.

Another interlude is this observation from David Sklansky himself:

 09-25-2015, 10:22 PM  #178
David Sklansky

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Re: Book Announcement: Real Poker Psychology by Mason Malmuth

Quote:

Originally Posted by FieryJustice

“Mindset” is simply the tie breaker players of equal technical skill.

As are many other things. Like seat selection, table talk, and “money management”.

The problem is that poker players often ascribe to these things far more importance than simply “tie breakers”. And when they have poor results they waste time trying to improve these things rather than trying to improve their strategy.

 

Here Sklansky, in addition to providing cover for Mr. Malmuth, touches on the tactics of the game – as opposed to the strategy – a real 3rd dimension serious low stakes players, who are likely, in fact, the largest audience for poker books, seem to fail at again and again.  Reality intrudes, then, and however briefly, while we argue the merits and demerits of hot showers.  (I personally would wish tooth brushing would be considered the new non plus ultra of meta strat: my life at the tables would be so much more pleasant.)

A third, more extraneously humorous moment occurs when flamboyant poker celebrity “Kid Poker” Daniel Negreanu expresses his disbelief at Mr. Malmuth’s thesis, and the conversation turns to his own mental game conditioning; who could have seen that coming?  While he makes some points for Dr. Cardner (many players, especially on social media, will ultimately come to her defense; remember in whose stadium the match takes place), what is more striking than his argument is that his energy seems not to be containable by the shaded boxes of the forums; he is antimatter to Mr. Malmuth’s The Frog and the Toad Talk Capitalism on a Very Rainy Day act.  You probably could have convinced me that Daniel grew that new hair himself, by choice.

However, at some point the diversions end and the two contestants spar briefly, goaded by forum participants, before falling into fussing over Dr. Cardner’s credentials and what Mr. Malmuth said about them, again to much dubious goading.  The fire is just not rising with the smoke. However, there are some lessons for players.

For Dr. Cardner, psychological study has yielded efficiencies that increase the likelihood of peak performance and promoting these practices appears to be the focus of her successful career – players crave these practices, rightly or wrongly.  For Mason Malmuth, the mastery of the material is the issue, and once that is accomplished, he finds scant value in tweaking in what state its execution is carried out. Can Mr. Malmuth be correct that the mental game, and so these practices, are really a two percent question?

In one post the limited nature of psychological help is spelled out by Dr. Cardner herself:

We give by step step instructions, ideas, tips, and strategies to help you build each psychological skill/trait. I only included things that have been shown in clinical research to be effective for most people. Also, there are a variety of strategies in each chapter so you can pick and choose the things you want to try.

Here she also confirms the problem of proportionality with a misguided metaphor:

The other side of the coin is the psychological aspects. Those can be much more variable and harder to control – especially if we don’t have the psychological skills and knowledge we need.

The mental game is not necessarily the other side of a coin or the polar equivalent to strategy; that is what has to be proved, for one thing, to counter Mason’s argument, not assumed.   This easy generalization, somewhat similar to Mr. Malmuth’s liberal use of an analogy to describe an event in the brain, helps stoke controversy without providing a clear point.  Winning debates involves making strong, clear points… but she’s not the only one to stumble.

Twisting and turning through the thread is the odd example of Danny Robinson, an apparently unhealthy and obese yet still legendary stud expert.  He is batted back and forth as an example for both sides of our argument (He was GREAT! Oh, yeah, he could have been BETTER!).  However, two obvious points are missed in this thriller of a misexample.  He played the way he wanted to play and his edge was apparently satisfactory.  Mental game conditioning was not needed or wanted by him, whereas every single client of Dr. Cardner, Tendler, Roe, or whoever has to have been strictly voluntary and seeking an edge or help.  In other words, there is no argument here and Mr. Robinson is a strictly counterfactual fantasy for both sides.  However, what is true is that the long run is long, and it is hard.  Danny Robinson clearly needed to be healthy to fully exploit his edge over the maximum number of years, but he never sought to.  In other words, yes, he would have benefitted most simply by seeing the long run, which is best achieved by, say, living.  How do we quantify this?  It’s not as straightforward as it might seem.  What truly motivates a man to do what he does and to live?  It’s not a question for mathematicians… or performance studies.

Certainly Dr. Cardner went far past reasonable when actually claiming that her adversary is “incapable of logic” on Twitter.  This charge, with the slightest perusal of his resume, is found rather obviously false and is a disservice to both. I believe there was even some beneath contemptible mouth breathings of “misogyny” by someone, somewhere. However, for the slings and arrows he endures, Mr. Malmuth does himself no great shake in his more zealous attempts to discredit Dr. Cardner, either. He bickers, for instance, with Fedor Holz, someone who actually would know just what kind of coaching he needs or imagines he needs (it often being the same thing for the high level competitor), over marginal spots.  Mr. Malmuth has already established a solid argument, likely won the day as to what novice and intermediate players need- but he will not leave good enough alone. In other words, it’s his randomly assigned, 2% value of the mental game number, after all his straightforward arguing, that won’t let the dispute rise to a climax and close itself.

Dr. Cardner is not suggesting that mental game aid should replace any strategic aspect of the game, which she calls “mandatory.” (This is in an understatement.)  Here the argument could have ended or gone in another direction.  Instead, the red herring of “mental toughness” becomes a distraction, as if mental toughness were a strategic component, when all it is a way of increasing the probability of remaining in the game.  The boxing example given by Mr. Malmuth shows this, and bridges the gap between poker player and sports figure when understood properly- yet neither seems to, oddly, or else it would have been a bigger part of the debate.  Again, disappointment.

That, though, should be no surprise. It is often hard for an audience to receive information when it is not properly presented or clearly argued.  Online forums are not famous for their clarity and generosity for a reason, and the confounding inability to use English in a persuasive and cunning way often leaves important points behind.

Here is, in essence, what Mr. Malmuth says:  Tilt derives from the mind being unable to process information satisfactorily. More will be accomplished by learning to process than by managing not processing.

Here is what the Audience hears from him: Tilt derives from being confused. Don’t be confused.

They are not equivalent statements. Mr. Malmuth’s actual point is unique, succinct, and interesting.  He even derives a theory of humor from it which he shared on the Pokersesh (fittingly, he is the least funny human on the planet, but such can be the ironical nature of inquiry).  He makes an astonishingly sharp observation in connecting humor’s quality of release to poker tilt, noting that a solid player will sometimes surreptitiously laugh at a bad beat, as his brain sharply processes the discord between result and correct action; whereas a weaker player will leap into monkey tilt, unable to resolve what Mr. Malmuth likens to a “feedback loop.”  In a rather funny twist of meanings, following this, you could posit that a weak player lacks a sense of humor, and that humor, therefore, has an intrinsic relationship to variance and winning poker, thereby pointedly bridging the philosophical and mathematical values of the game in a rather neat way.

To return to the issue, Mr. Malmuth’s “feedback loop” of course is an analogy, and not a psychological or biomechanical theory.  This easy language will grate on the institutional approach of Dr. Cardner, naturally enough, and is in fact a good morsel of what the psychologist objects to.   (Return to her original list of academic suggestions above.) The years of work and the methodology that go into creating acceptable ideas on how the mind work will recoil from the inquiry and even the language of the natural philosopher or personal essayist.  (This works both ways, of course: FOMO? Really? I hope no tax dollars go toward that.) However, the upshot is that since neither of the two opponents want to use their imagination to bridge the gap in their ideas, nor precise the exact place for the mental game, each wishing to overstep in order to take more ground, we are left with a fun but minor feud that is easily resolved by everyone except its participants.

What’s more, attacking Dr. Cardner, even from a position of strength, is a somewhat foolish proposition in a forum of players who already have access to an almost endless well of information, yet are strangely still desperate for any edge.  While Mr. Malmuth is rather obviously correct in his basic premise that poker expertise trumps its management, the soft skills he disparages, if I may use this somewhat loaded term, are real and a part of a player’s arsenal, secondary or not.  What is missed is just how unlikely it is that even a decent player will in fact ever truly understand the game as deeply as Mr. Malmuth suggests he will or should- or even that it can be understood as he suggests.  His platonic poker ideal is just that- a theoretical one.

So then, is the struggling poker player to go without the modest psychological support Dr. Cardner offers for the sake of someone’s “mathematical model” of anything?  Should anyone actually be worried that there is someone out there so confused that they are going to Dr. Cardner for poker strategy, befuddled as to what they really need? In a profoundly challenging game should a player pass up any edge, an edge which means real dollars, for the sake of rigor?  Does Mr. Malmuth imagine that feeling bad or disoriented or unfocused is something most people simply accept without looking into alternatives?  Would Mr. Malmuth argue against treating the symptoms of a cold in favor of viral research?

That’s simply not how competition or competitors work at any level, and that is a crack in the Malmuthian armor, strong as it is.  The small edge mental game experts offer is just that reassurance and aid that so many players crave, not so that they might evade the nature of the game, but so that they can return to the true work of understanding that Mr. Malmuth espouses. The players created the market and all the Dr. Cardners. The question is where, not if, they have a place at the table.

In other words, the enemies in this feud are arguing essentially complementary but unequally weighted suppositions.  I believe Mason is right in the main, will read his book with curiosity, and that the real argument, the one they won’t have, is exactly where to fit in mental game conditioning. (It likely skews along these lines; amazing how even when it’s not his show, he still gets in the last word.)

This makes sense: almost all l things have their place, and the tougher the competition, the smaller the golden crumbs worth fighting for. This is true everywhere, and poker can’t be an exception. If you think you need a mindset coach to sit in an entry level game, the preposterousness of it is itself an argument against mental game conditioning. Yet as soon as the game grows tougher, even just one level up, some game preparedness issues begin to become possibly relevant. Certainly, moreover, it’s futile to argue with a high stakes player who feels he needs every edge imaginable.

Enough. Some people need extra-strategic advice at some point… but we could always use a good penguin joke.  Post below!

 

35X

16 Comments

  1. I don’t see any torches or pitchforks yet. Anyway, neither “knowing correct strategy” or thinking about my hot shower in the morning has worked. I must be a special case.

  2. Well, that’s a good comment because Mason’s point is not that tilting doesn’t exist but that you’re going to do better in the long run perfecting your strat than worrying about tilt. If you are inclined to Tilt no matter what, Dr. Cardner offers techniques to minimize it beyond hot showers.

    But I think you enjoy the rage too much to change. Be who you are. Eventually, it will lessen, I’d imagine.

  3. It seems a bit silly really. Obviously fundamental strategy is critical to succeed in any strategy game or sport. Otherwise zen monks who can keep a focused mind would all run the tables and own the podium at the Olympics. That said, there is a psychological aspect that risks destroying most people’s ability to play strategically. This is a silly argument where two authorities are shouting at each other from their respective wheel houses, failing to see that authority in one field does not extrapolate to authority in another.

    You should trust that I know best because I am good with Excel.

  4. Yes, he is challenging that assumption, and in so doing he is undermining his credibility. People have emotions and high level thinking is compromised by powerful emotion. That isn’t a debatable topic.

    When a poker author claims otherwise, he is either a legitimate fool or his emotions on the topic are simply clouding his typically thinking.

    I suspect the latter.

    1. Yes, but the way he is doing it is not by claiming people don’t have emotions. He’s saying a player will avoid reaching that compromised state best by understanding what he is doing better, not by trying to manage it better once it happens.

      1. And experience proves this point… The players I know who tilt less (or not at all) are players with deeper understanding of the game and not ones who walk about the room reciting a mantra after their AA is cracked by 7T offsuit that was all-in preflop.

  5. Yes, he is right. But when it happens, and it will, one is better off if they can use cognitive tools that didn’t just disappear.

  6. I agree, but in the end he is arguing about expected value, and thinks that it is worth more to invest yourself in strategy than in having those soft skills. That’s why I think he has a stronger point for lower stakes games, where, not coincidentally, people understand the least and complain the most.

  7. I did it! I found the cure! It’s not fluffy pillows or knowing expert strategy. It’s winning. Always clears the mind.

    Just noticed that I can suscribe to oop for real blog psychology. That’s good.

Leave a Reply

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.

Analog
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.

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

Bet
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.

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

Blockers
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.

Bottom
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.

Bounded
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.

Capitalization
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”.

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

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

Clarity
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.

Combinatorics
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.

Complete
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.

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

Construction
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.

Deviation
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.

Downbet
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.

Efficiency
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.

Elasticity
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.

Equity
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.

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

Float
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.

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

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

GIGO
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.

Initiative
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.

Isolate
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.

LAG
Loose aggressive player type. Generally overused and inaccurate.

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

Leveling
He knows that I know that he knows I know.

Leverage
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.

LFI
Limp First In

Linear
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.

Merge
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).

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

Nuts
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.

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

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

Overbet
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.

Polarized
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.

Protected
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."

Raise
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.

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

Reciprocity
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.

Retention
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.

Robustness
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.

Runout
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.

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

Squeeze
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.

Stop-N-Go
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.

TAG
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.

Top
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.

Upstuck
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.)

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

Uncapped
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.

Unicorn
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”.

Warmer
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.

WIFSUWO
“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.

YMC
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.