Coaching

See the top of The Back Room for current study group offerings. While this document is interesting, it is two years old and my practice has advanced considerably since.

A contact form is below.

I am available for coaching low stakes cash game players.

As a card player who plays 1/2, 1/3, 3/5, and 5/10 for a living, I have developed a philosophy which, in a difficult game, makes execution relatively easy and removes some of the mystery of the full ring. The basis is in understanding, before you sit down at the table, the nature of NLHE, still the most common game and the usual basis of a live poker win rate, and how it revolves around position, stack size, and community cards.

I don’t think coaching is for everyone, never mind my coaching; I just don’t see the need. There are endless sources of free information, training sites, and established name pros who can help.

Basically, most players lose because they just don’t work or think or try very hard or even care: pretty simple.

However, if that is not you, if you are stuck and know at heart you can get there, a mentor is one of the the fast tracks out. What’s more, if you fall into my general categories of why you are struggling, I can help you with all of the erroneous thought processes I list.

Essentials

The essence of my strategy for the game of NLHE poker is playing all my hands according to their natural alignment with position, stack size, and community cards. This is what I call synchronicity. This separates my particular style from common styles. It also means I have a basic and coherent understanding of the game and am not just clicking buttons or following some guide. This is important- and should become more important to you.

  1. Each spot in a ring game is valued or devalued relative to the button, the most desirable position in poker. This will in part inform how and what hands (and at what frequency) are played at the most basic level- and suggest alternatives. Critically, this dictates that when we break ranks and synchronicity, we know we have to take steps later in the hand to account for our intentional deviation or error.
  2. Stack size, like position, also inform what types of hands can be played most effectively. Stacks are in my view, even more important than position, and certainly more important than preflop equity, the bugaboo of many players, and one that ties them to their cards and the hopeless quest to find a perfect preflop range.
  3. The most complicated aspect of NLHE is postflop play because of its endless, potentially confusing action.  One coherent strategy, the one that I employ, will delimit the confusion by being heavily based in points 1 and 2 rather than being focused on thin value extraction or improvisation. I focus on planned actions that interact with the fundamentals, not hopeful bet folds and other dis-coordinated actions.

I do not believe in making poker complicated; we could stop right here and move forward to winning NLHE, or in fact, almost any poker game with community cards. I do not believe you need a shelf full of poker books, especially if they frustrate and intimidate, although I encourage you to think on your own and not accept any one player or coach or writer as the ultimate authority.

Simplicity is key: all my thoughts on poker will revolve around these three complementary aspects of the game, because in the end, we are performers, not theorists. We need to be flexible and active and not weighed down with complex and numerous ideas. We are, above all, players.

How will coaching work?

I need to start with getting a sense of your game and/or your issues. The most successful coaching experience is one where we both know what we are working toward, whether it is one theme or an entire overhaul of your game.

Once we decide on what that is, I will decide whether I can help you or not. I will refer you elsewhere if we are not a good fit.

If it looks like I can help, we will agree to a month of service where we are in constant communication.

We will use Skype primarily.

If you are struggling or want to improve at 1/2 or the lowest stakes, I will very likely suggest a diagnostic session which I will analyze.

For the minority of students, especially those with highly specific challenges, our methodology will differ.

In almost all cases, we will work with theory and focus on concepts rather than hand histories.

The hourly model does not work for me and might not for you. Poker ideas take time to resonate and develop. If a mentor is what you need, you will likely have many questions and not want to feel pressured to squeeze them into an hour of my time or your time.

Lastly, students will be given access to Poker League, a chat group, and the more permanent record of The Back Room, both of which we use for study, support, group discussion and transparency.

Contact me for more details with the form below. If you need references, ask.

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The above is enough to get you there. It sounds almost ridiculously simple! However, the following sub-concepts are useful for an even more nuanced understanding, which may interest you, depending on your level of play or perhaps when facing certain games, opponents and challenges. They are like filters or magnifying glasses we can use to zero in on our problems in the game, once we have a firm grasp of the three pillars.

Purpose

This is inherent to playing in synchronicity with stacks and positions, and right away separates the winning player from the losing ones. Purpose trumps much. For example, many times low stakes players are overwhelmed by the poker education industry. “Be Aggressive!” “Well Not In This Spot!” “Play in Position!” “Mix It Up From the Blinds” etc. All of this – all of it- is ultimately a cover up, a well meaning pedagogical effort which never addresses the fundamental question: Do you know why you are doing what you are about to do? 

Admittedly, probably not. There are no tips or top five lists or ranges to play that will make you a great player, but having purpose in all your actions might fill in some of the many blanks of a poker education.

Reciprocity

One of the most important concepts in poker is that no matter what strategy we employ, all situations will potentially be shared by me and my opponents. Therefore it is not the situations which play themselves that are most important, but all the situations where I can find an advantage. The Construction courses in particular teach thinking about line work that fights reciprocal outcomes.

Efficiency

As I wrote, to win this battle of reciprocity, my strategy must preclude sharing as many of these reciprocal spots as possible. I will not be passive when they are; I will not spew when they spew. Most commonly, this can be accomplished by either shutting out my opponent from realizing his equity or choosing not to realize my own. We will always focus on the best principle of carrying combos forward – the balance of retention and denial.

Possibilities

The process of thinking about hands is ultimately more useful than sticking to any one tactic, even though this may not be immediately clear to a novice or intermediate player, because no situation will ever be repeated. The past is only important because the future is. There are no “standard” lines or tactics that I teach, although like every player, I have some baseline strategies that I both use and encourage. I don’t teach anyone to play like me but attempt to teach how to think in poker.

Countering Difficult Opponents and Game Conditions

One of the most profound revelations you will have as a player is the concept of Reciprocity, yet it will likely not be enough for you to completely overhaul your approach to common spots and questions. Yet there are Villains who are so good or situations so unusual or difficult that they will force us to break out of our comfort zone and derive a truly different strategy. No tactic, even open limping, feared and loathed by robotic players, the TAG industry of poker educators, and most of all, by your garden variety equity pusher, will be off the table when we come up against difficult opponents and games. Having purpose frees us from dogma and makes us stronger.

Variety

While I don’t feel qualified to instruct in games other than NLHE, I constantly play mixed games and pot limit games, not merely for enjoyment, but to expand my poker mind. I highly recommend this. Struggles in one game can point to deficiencies in another. The idea of Push/Pull in O8, for example, can make you rethink NLHE situations. If you break even at NL, but always lose at LHE, this is a strong indicator you do not understand positional alignment and is a window into improving your game right away. If you can’t seem to win at PLO, you are probably struggling with handreading, preflop considerations, and positional alignment.   Natural overbetting in Stud5 and 5card draw give you insight into the math and purpose of larger than normal wagers and indifference concepts.

The Mental Aspect: Playing your “Our” Game

The most important concept in preparing oneself for the game is to realize that wherever you are at mentally, whatever you have been focusing on the most, this is what you will bring to the table. Poker is not a sport but it is a performance. We will be in the midst of the war, acting and fighting, and because of this tremendous strain our subconscious will rise to the surface almost immediately – this explains why it is such a struggle to rise to your conceptually best game.

From this vantage point, there is no A game, or B game, or C game; these are arbitrary designations that themselves could be redefined infinitely, or as is the usual case, retroactively when we are dissatisfied with ourselves. Making a good play one night and a bad one does not mean your best self arrived at the former and not the latter – all your greatest stupidities are yours to own and learn from.  In reality, there is only the very best we can do at any one time… and that is our game.

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Summary

The synchronicity of hands to position, stack size, and community cards is the basis of my game and a great foundation for any player who wants a straightforward strategy for winning.

If you like what you read here, we may have the basis for a beneficial relationship. I will want to talk mainly about the three pillars, but if you are an advanced player, or if the related concepts I think about are important or pressing to you, let me know.

Thanks for your time – Persuadeo, July 2016

 

Learning, Coaching, & Relearning

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.