D’Artagnan Unrereunretires, Possibly

The scribbler’s Gallo – not d’Artagnan, who after reading this piece, requested I never write about him again. That hidden side…

I had earned a break from an intense week, so I met up with d’Artagnan, who had announced his retirement again from poker. Over sloppy “Blackberry” Cider and the embarrassing ballast of chili cheese fries, we talked movies (the place of Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo 66 in American cinema), politics (super delegates, the composition of the two major parties, and how to guess party affiliations), as well as his recent accomplishment in an exclusive, raked game deep in the buttwaters of the backwaters.

D’Artagnan often prefers to play the clown on the table, and he can do this socially as well.  Our civilian life bleeds into our battles on the felt, and vice versa, of course. However, the degenerate gambler personality he projects slips away at certain moments, especially late at night when energies wear. Sometimes he seems to enjoy the game more than any of us, projecting sunniness and love of life. D’Artagnan carries his peculiar education and life experience lightly, not speaking of what he knows or really cares about. It’s the mark of a good person (and very unlike your unhumble and impertinent blogging servant, an awful human being on the whole). He also carries the juggling act of conversation easily, turning up the babble dial deliberately. Interesting to me, D’Artagnan seems to have had a self-education in cinema equivalent in hours, if not in the same genres, to my own. Though we don’t agree on much, he’s clearly sacrificed and forgotten himself before the screen, soaking up the details of the versatile art form. (Buffalo 66 is a great, movie, however, sorry you’re so wrong bro.)

Moreover, there is something cordial and distant about d’Artagnan that is easily missed. Sometimes, he reminds me not so much of his namesake (after all, it’s impossible to square all of the Coven with the Musketeers, other than myself being Athos. I wish I could give up my now entrenched handle). There is an almost French or German air about him when he’s not being ridiculous, currently heightened by his 1910 hairstyle and wispy Private’s moustache, as if he were the forgotten child of a large Catholic family about to be sent off to a career he had no choice in. He occasionally give off signs of having had a slightly formal upbringing – it might merely be the sense of privacy covered by his absurdity – and has taken only a few lessons from his parents because they didn’t have too much time with him. I can imagine him with a cigarette on his lips, about to enroll in the armed services, not particularly concerned with living or dying but with a few important things on his mind that he won’t explain to anyone.

I don’t want to overstate things. It’s not all an act. While we poke at the gluttonous fries and gulp down the children’s alcohol, I extracted from him details of his latest dustoff. Perhaps you, cunning poker reader, can benefit and possibly find the flaws in his session.

Quick Tips from D’Artagnan on How to Drop 1000 bbs

  1. Go to home game full of top local players disguised as wacky “dealers” game.
  1. Sit to right of big game pro who has clearly come to play.
  1. Open blind and stack off for the first buy in.
  1. Back raise mid pair pre to 2/3 pot.
  1. Go with all draws until a better one comes up getting large overlay.
  1. Fold this one for balance and deception.
  1. Call 13x raise with from tilting fish with pro still to act behind you.
  1. Stack off with bottom pair with pro still behind. (This one seems especially effective.)
  1. Stay for the whole evening, even after all the recognized fish are bust.
  1. Oh, and bring 1000 bbs.

I had thought d’Artagnan was at least temporarily done with poker, before I had declined joining him on this near roadtrip distance game. He had told us he was done, and that his generous appearance would be the equivalent of Jack Nicklaus showing up at a charity event. (Back to ridiculousness, at least one thing true there.) That was before he quit the week before, when he had started again after a month before announcing quitting forever.

I understand the ambivalent nature of one’s relationship with this game which gives and takes so much. All this talk of quitting isn’t irrelevant to me; moving on from poker has been on my own mind for a month, although I can’t exactly do it nor am certain I want to do it. I have been working through vital personal issues, which has slowed both my table hours and my blog production. I’ve often made the distinction between a true pro and the dabbling pro, who has something else waiting for him. With no particular future out there for me, my month of needed solitude and low hours has crippled my income. I’ve poured money into cigarettes, alcohol, and food to loosen the knot of anxiety; I’ve wept over all the women who loved me and whose love I needed but could not bear, sending us both away in mutual confusion. (As fearful as it was to leave the workforce and hit the tables full time, I am wondering if the far braver thing to do is to leave poker.) However, I see now that my opinion on the matter was mostly pointless. Just because there isn’t anything good out there for me, Persuadeo the line cook, Persuadeo the bartender, Persuadeo the mail clerk, is, in fact, another occupation occupied. There’s always something, in other words.

For many days, I didn’t even feel the need to post so much on Red Chip, where the quality of analysis has taken a steep positive climb. Who needs me and why the hell did I spend so much time on the small forum front for a paid training site? With a new wave of content from FilthyCasual (really a regrettably nasty combination of words), The Gabey Jesus, Austin, Eazzy, and many others, I don’t have the same impulse to step in.

D’Artagnan’s relationship to poker is not dissimilar to this ripple in my poker involvement. He’s an old school player who was in big games before I’d even heard of Hold’em, despite being much younger than me. The effort to get back into step is a daunting one, yet avoiding it holds his winrate back significantly. Is humility enough? What if it’s not just poker, but needed for something far more important?

As I implied in my personal favorite blog post, I needed something to change, and am now, I think, on its precipice, whatever it is. Assuming I’m ready to go on, I’ll be taking it very, very seriously again, and will be using more analysis and analysis tools than before. There are one or two things I have to get out of the way. I could become a great hold’em player, if I can capture the desire. Even the flirting with retirement makes me feel like I’m slipping, making me uneasy.

In truth, D’Artagnan’s comments are too constant to be taken so seriously, but the matter is and always will be an interesting part of a poker player’s career. Poker is not, essentially, a productive act. It is entertainment and competition, and the soul wants, above all, creation. As for me, what I’m really hoping is that maybe I am about to enter a phase where I play more professionally, not caring. Clock in, clock out. I’m still a little too turned on by the action to have that pure card shark callousness. Or, maybe I don’t want even that, exactly.

I don’t know.

In any case, so it goes, as the wise man wrote. Unfortunately, the night, my only cover and constant companion, is not forever. Doubts will soon give way to dawn, and the cider spigot must be turned away. It’s late. I go to pay off the check. D’Artagnan, in an indescribably smooth transition, asks for me to front him $500.

“There’s a game I want to play in, almost forgot. Can’t miss my paycheck.”

Well. I decline, and we go off into the night on our very separate ways, having briefly crossed thanks only to this game that consumes us.


  1. For yourself (and anyone), there is value in being great at something. You have that capacity for holdem. For adequate income, there are plenty of opponents trying to give it away.

  2. Tough to read that one. You are a great poker player and a great poker thinker.

    Regarding creation, perhaps poker is the muse and not the canvas?

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Logical advancement of combinations across streets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Loose aggressive player type. Generally overused and inaccurate.

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

He knows that I know that he knows I know.

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

Limp First In

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The best possible hand.

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

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

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

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

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

A range consisting of very strong and very weak hands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth and Fifth Street cards following a given flop texture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tight aggressive opponent type. Generally overused and misapplied.

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

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

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

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

The best hands in a given range.

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

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

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

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

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

A turned nut straight after raising flop with a gutter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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