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All Vlogs Revealed: Boski

A new generation of poker players is creating thousands of hours of previously rare poker content: The personal poker video log, aka vlog. In this series, I will attempt to review them all.

It’s suiting that I start off with a vlog which commands its form while being particularly constrained by it. In other words, the Jeff Boski vlog has much to say about its creator and about poker itself, but much of it is in what it doesn’t say.

Beginnings matter, and episode 1 is a fair rubric for the entirety of the series so far. The pattern of images that define the series are cash, Boski’s face, tournament stacks, food, and sex workers. Fittingly, that is pretty much all we see in the first installment.

I’ll talk about each of these central images, but let’s start with cash, because this is where everything begins – a mid-speed, shaky pan of a few hundred in twenties that just might blow away. This is honest, and so a good way for Boski to define his world. It’s not a particularly lavish or rich one, but a little dry and crispy, a world of bills and comps and desert air.

Better known under the name Jeff Sluzinski, Hendon Mob reports career earnings approaching $700,000 over nine years of serious live multi-table tournament play. Nearly all of his scores and cashes are in Las Vegas, and it’s reasonable to surmise that not only is he a long-time resident, but likely enjoys another income stream to round out his finances, if not his life. Even if we give him a 100% tournament ROI, for instance, we find his gross income will be about $35,000 per year. This is certainly enough to live comfortably in a low-cost American city, which, beyond the glitz of the tourist area, is what Las Vegas is. In fact, during the obligatory poker vlogger driving footage, a fetish of the new wave of video journalists, we will indeed see him driving from some apparent outskirts to reach the strip. Viva East Henderson.

It’s also not a wordy world. Boski, for a public diarist, has very little to say. However, this is in fact a strength of his vlog more than a weakness, and keeps him true to the constraints of his style. Many vloggers have also little to say but much to talk about, yet Boski wisely keeps to his medium. He does not seem to be trained or experienced in the creation of visual media, but again this works far to his advantage, as he is rarely cloying or fancy.

One of the best aspects of his vlog are his cuts and cut-aways, before which he says something very short and instead of lingering on it or pontificating further, he fades the volume out and moves onto the next action – great instinctive directing which might be too raw, but because it makes his minor point – he’s at some level of some tournament – at an appropriate pacing and space, it conforms well to his production vision. There is much of this sort of interior truth in the Boski vlog, as I shall show.

Cash, however, quickly is transformed into chips, and here we find his aesthetic at its only real point of ridiculousness. There may be some humor in it, but the camera’s lingering shots of tournament chips – nearly valueless ceramic disks, set to ridiculous music at best and quiet stills of stacks at worst – is just a touch comical and dissuades the viewer at several points, like photos of a fast food item that isn’t actually appetizing. Nevertheless, it reminds us of the essential smallness of much of poker and its domestic obsession with savings and value. Boski, in his minimalism and love of simple things, helps the viewer see poker clearly by celebrating what isn’t worth celebrating.

The small human details that create a complex piece of work, however are not really in Boski’s wheelhouse, and he sticks to his pattern of images very cleanly. However, nothing is so absolute. For instance, in episode 3, promising because it is a rare PLO tournament, Boski catches a player on camera serving himself from a hidden bottle of wine. This episode also happens to contain one of the strangest tracking shots in poker vlogging, where the resourceful Boski has used cards and paper to layout a hand on a table, itself a great diversion from graphics and subtly humorous. He then takes footage, panning the camera upward as he describes the action, only to cut to the same shot with the next street dealt. Each time he pans forward anew from the same starting point, creating the slightly nauseating effect of reading in a moving vehicle or profound intoxication or, perhaps, the endlessness of the hands we play. His deader-than-a-pan baritone, like the weary narrator at the beginning of an endless expedition, adds to the bizarreness of this short, sea-sick scene.

As with all vlogs, for better or worse, sounds and music play a large role. Boski is at times restrained and savvy in his choices, again displaying that admirable, if undercooked, sensibility many could learn from. He selects music mostly for rather predictable social cueing: popular beats that tell us something “cool” is happening, synth or ballads mean thoughtfulness or drama, etc. Of course, if the generation before were to hear these cues, they’d wonder why such music is so dull; just as in the future, they’ll wonder why we had no ear for timbre. Nevertheless, such elevator music is a big part of the poker vlog scene, generally making it a worse, more derivative experience than it needs to be. The film studio instinct, born of fear, to cover up the script (and the audience) with unearned mood, starts right at home, apparently.

Fortunately, keeping with my thesis, Boski’s vlog is too minimal to suffer from this defect too much. In fact, Jeff’s voice is the real soundtrack. Low and slow, it expresses a mind deeply patient with the world and untroubled by too much nuance or a need to explain itself: Boski belongs. Much will be repeated, including a certain dead optimism that he will win – this one I think about a lot. Must we be sure we will win? What exactly is the proper attitude? Another of his most tired phrases, one that runs through all thirty plus episodes so far, is the whole “bag and tag” routine – he even makes fun of himself for it in a later episode. It’s a note, a leitmotif, as if he really is a soldier in some war no one wants.

A face that has seen a thousand ships.

Boski’s delivery itself is sometimes hysterical, nowhere more so than in episode 7, where, over his usual Still Chip Montage, he claims, unprompted and halting, “My table… is the perfect mix… of genders and ethnicities.” What does this mean? The alchemy of some vapid diversity quota? Some poker heaven that belongs painted on velvet next to the dogs playing cards? Only he can know, and since we can only hope the answer makes more sense than whatever the truth of the matter is, the fact that he never explains or expands upon it creates irony and fun. His speech in fact becomes more and more clipped and stylized as the vlog gathers episodes – probably a self-conscious realization that his audience enjoys it and his opaque personality. This speech technique works especially well with such meaningless aspirational bromides.

Ultimately, the image that is most prevalent and revelatory is Boski’s face. It is, in fact, the true muse of his camera – a difference from Neeme or the Trooper. I can’t be sure, because he prefers a photography angle, curiously, that looks up at him at all times, as if to distance himself stoically or give the slight impression that someone else is shooting him, but he seems to be a tall man. This matters because the tall are often aloof and distant, having literally been isolated from close quarters. Indeed, Boski appears ever so slightly withdrawn from communal thought. His eyebrows are always bewildered, his forehead often furrowed over some worry that is never communicated. He likes to turn to the side, throwing attention to some thought never expressed. His taut editing never lets the camera linger while that voice is faded out.

A recurring image that Boski shows us is an empty felt, with the big, bewildered eyes in the corner – nothing is ever a coincidence. Whether Boski is a user or not, his mien makes me think about substance abuse in poker. It is tempting, above all, for the tournament player, who must confront and master not only the game, but boredom itself. We are reminded why so many players are obsessed with mental game: in the tournament setting, it makes so much more sense as a strategic worry. (Somewhat bizarrely, Boski states in a Youtube comment that he boski greeningprefers tournaments because he does not like the repetition of cash games. However, what he is likely referring to is the storyline of the freeze-out format.) DFW’s final work focused on boredom and he used the IRS as his muse, but he might have done us all one better by looking to poker. Players like Boski, in love with money and freedom yet living so simply, people who deal with the same situations over and over again, have a lot to show – if not say – about our experience of the passage of time.

The second to last element of Boski’s image list is food. For the most part he simply records what he is served. Boski does a great job with this, as in all his structural elements. For the most part he simply cuts to the meals and titles them, as if conscious of the overdone style in the restaurant and now poker vlogging scene: Boski is fitting in a necessity or perhaps paying it homage, and it works. Further, in episode 23 he manages, crushed by a tourney result, to pick up some groceries. It’s frozen, chopped pork belly, which in preparing (and confusing it with cooking), he manages to serve up a sad, humorous, and nearly destroyed plate of unadorned rations: a bad day all around and one of his better moments as a short film maker. He offers up the “dish” for your admiration, not unlike the tournament chips, letting you decide on his real level of seriousness.

At some point along the way, www.pokertube.com, a slightly shady content agglomerator, started sponsorship of Boski’s vlog. These sorts of deals are a natural development – I can foresee a few other vloggers being offered similar. However, another agreement which is more important to Boski’s vision is an unclear partnership with some sort of adult film industry convention. I have no idea what is going on here – perhaps it’s just mutual publicity- but Boski shows up and a porn actress gets a little face time and pushes his vlog. It’s a little strange because the audience is already watching the video, but maybe it’s some sort of surplus value thing. In any case, the inclusion of the sex starlets is all of a piece and rounds out Boski’s vlog and vision of Vegas nicely. My favorite is in one recent episode where she gives a kiss to the camera that has nothing in it but the most mechanical desperation, and so it comes out like a kind of gasp of air she only has so much of, like a valve that shouldn’t be opened any further. She, too, looks away.

In another of his best sequences, episode 24, Boski busts another tourney. However, he cleverly moves his community beauty’s kiss of death to before his bust-out announcement: foreshadowing. He then goes into the night, unexplained and in good Boski fashion. The choice of music is strange and unnecessary, but what’s important is that the car makes a turn – it’s important visually that it’s not another stupid, endless poker vlog tour of the streets – and quietly goes to a massage parlor for the human touch. The sequence ends with a capture of the announcement that there are “no refunds”: tournament life spent. It’s a little raw, for sure, and the glurge music dampens the drama and curiosity, but the thought is there and shows that Boski could do a lot with his camera and story if he really wanted to help us get into his psyche deeply and poignantly. This is a short passage of true film making amidst the self-hypnosis of tournament repetition and a highlight of the poker vlog work created by the movement so far.

It’s an empty and discordant world for the most part, poker. If you go too far but not far enough, you’ll get trapped into all sorts of things, and the industry of sex imagery on demand fits into the world of illusions and desiccated dreams that litter the poker road. In the modern era, very little has done more damage to the young man than this instant access to the cold shape of its vessel and but not its contents. What, then, does poker do to these same victimized non-victims?

This is one vlog, maybe more than all the others, that can tell us – well, no, more likely show us – the answer to this question, as the dry and venal world of Boski’s Vegas speaks the language of these substitutions and imitations of life. Boski’s vlog is the order of champagne when you have nothing to celebrate, the squinting, daytime drive to play indoors, the hardened lips of the adult video star. It’s an important poker documentary and one that has not reached its peak – or should I say depths – yet.

Jeff Boski
Your man in Vegas: Jeff Boski

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Vlogs Revealed: Sheils

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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.

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.