Gargamel guest post strategy

Gargamel: Dodging Coolers

New post from Gargamel, where he thinks through seemingly reciprocal spots. – P.

Today I’m going to talk about hero folding and being able to put your opponent on a very narrow range of hands or even a single hand.

First, what is a cooler?  My definition of a cooler is a hand in which you are unable to reasonably preserve some or all of your stack.  You surely have heard others refer to hands as coolers, but in some spots, they are really only going by absolute (rather than relative) hand strength.

Let’s go through a few examples.


This first hand was one that I lost and also one that I made a rare forum post on.  I was 2 hours into a 2/5 $300 cap game and had a stack of $280.  In this hand there was an early position limp followed by an early position raise to 30 by a middle aged white guy.

So far, the raiser had not done anything remarkable.  His position, raise amount, and demographic already should have indicated blue-myself1a pretty narrow range of hands.  I had AKdd on the button and decided to flat.  A weak player in the blinds called as did the limper.  The flop came KsQs3c.  The preflop raiser led into the 4 way pot for 80.  If he started with a reasonable range of TT+, AK, we have to hope he’s recklessly continuing with JJ or TT into the field in order to feel good about this hand.

Most players, even those in my Village, are not that crazy.  Remember, he’s a MAWG out for an evening of cards, not a fierce and/or loose regular.  I decided to get the money in and got shown KK.  My argument is actually for folding the flop.  Doing so would save $250, or at least 6 hours of work these days.  We can’t simply cite SPR, say we have TPTK, and throw our hands up.  I had a bad feeling about the hand on the flop and didn’t trust my instincts.

What hands would you expect him to turn over?

Persuadeo: So we can imagine a range of hands that the MAWG would isolate the limp with. Why is the decision to flat and not try to shut out 88-TT, and maybe even JJ? And seeing that he can’t continue into three people with less than AK, in your opinion, what prompted you to go to the felt on a K when you couldn’t raise pre?

I’m not thinking of really shutting out JJ, TT and the like.  I find it highly unusual for players to raise to 30 pre then fold to further preflop aggression, particularly when I’m holding AK, a hand they all love to put us on.  My strategy does not typically include attempting to get people to fold the top of their range or hands they consider strong.  A 3b with AK here will usually commit us to the hand even while missing the flop.  I’m not eager to take the short end of a flip with AK for stacks.


This next hand was more fun.  I was playing 5/10, five handed.  Some rules in my state to keep in mind are a betting/raising cap of $500 and maximum of three raises per round.  The latter rule mostly comes into play preflop.

Effective stacks were about $1000. A decent reg opened to 35, then the loose and mostly passive spot at the table 3b to 85 from the sb.

I 4b to 215 from the bb.  Now, 4b are relatively rare in these games.  Action folded to the loose passive player who quickly attempted to 5b to what he thought was a cap of 715.  This was not permitted so we went heads up in a 4b pot to a flop of J98.

gameNow, let’s consider the actions of this player which should reflect a very narrow range.  Again, he is loose passive and attempted to max 5b.  He did so without any deliberation, eager to get the $ in.  He would likely think a bit with QQ.  The 8 remaining combos of AK?  I believe he is too passive to 5b it, much less snap try to make it 715.  That leaves AA.  I was prepared to fold KK to a flop bet and was hoping to hit a set.  Amazingly, my opponent checked and I checked back.

The turn was a K.  He led for 300, I shoved, and he showed AA in defeat.  You always want to think about the tendencies of your opponent, the bet sizing, and any timing tells.

Persuadeo: What do you think about your 4bet versus this player?

I think my 4b against this player is fine. He’s not so nitty that his 3b range is only AA though his 3b sizing is obviously for value.  He is a player who will set mine with bad odds on the regular and can call with worse hands here including AK and QQ which I have in bad shape.


Another hand comes to us from the Crush Live Poker forums.  I was not involved but the OP asked if his hand was a cooler or misplayed.  You can find the details here:

With nearly 200 bbs in a 5/5 game, and a tight winning image, the OP in MP1 opened AKdd to 20, picked up 2 callers then the SB 3b to 125.  OP flatted and they went heads up to a flop of As6c4c.

It is noteworthy that the opponent checked the flop blind.  It’s very unusual for a preflop three bettor to check a flop blind.  It certainly doesn’t rate to be a bluffing tactic, especially when considering his position and the OP’s image.  OP bet 150 into 290 and got called.  Unless the opponent showed himself to be a station, AK is not a 3 street value hand here against a good and/or tight player so it’s ok to check the flop back with TPGK.

Regardless, the turn is the real decision point and the street where the mistake was made.  The turn card was the 3s so basically it was a blank.  OP bet 350 into 590 and got check raised all in for his last 325.  Although I’m sure OP felt committed, havingWhy_Smurfs_shouldn't_play_Strip_Poker already put in 625 and getting almost 5-1, let’s go through the actions in this hand.  The flop was checked blind by the aggressor in the hand, which should indicate strength or at least a lack of concern about what the board might bring. By the turn, if not the flop, it’s obvious the op has at least a good ace.  Yet, he’s facing a CRAI for a 380bb pot in total.  In general turn check raises for this size pot on ace high boards in $5 blind games are not a bluff.

So, what can you expect to see?  AQ or AJ?  If so, please send me google maps directions for this game.  One of the responders to the post said something along the lines of you never know when an opponent is doing something weird or out of character.

I say you could say that for any hand and give yourself an excuse to call.  A wise man once said there are no pot odds when you’re drawing dead.

Persuadeo: What do you think of the OP’s decision to bet when checked to? What do you think of his bet sizing on the flop, and for that matter the decision to bet the turn?

OP doesn’t have to bet when checked to as this is just not a 3 street value hand against anyone remotely competent.  Betting here helps clue in the opponent to the strength of your hand.  There is not much to protect against and few action killers.  Also for the rare situations where balance helps, he can have a strong top pair to check back.

The bet sizing on the flop is about 1/2 pot, which is OK.  The decision to bet the turn though is ill advised as is the sizing of 350 into 590.  What is the reason for betting?  Do you really think the opponent 3b AQ (or a weaker ace), checked the flop blind with that and is now calling off?  OP is essentially taking the “Stack a Donk” line but without read that this guy is a donk.

If you’d like to post on OOP, contact Persuadeo.


  1. So in hand one we make a reasonable assumption that the MAWG will not continue without nutted hands into the field. How far do you take this? Are you adjusting to him or his stereotype specifically? As I mentioned, Otto cbet blasted 44 through on A73 into three people at the Village, and others do this as well. They get punished but are we taking advantage of this correctly? Consider writing about dealing with multiway cbets in loose games.

  2. Mainly, I would make a mental note of Otto’s play and adjust from there. Now, Otto is always dressed in gym shorts and a t shirt or sweatshirt so he looks, if not plays, the part. He’s more likely to get out of line than some random MAWG. It’s similar to how the gym short wearing pro likes to 3b a lot from the button. He’s going to have to show me a hand. Also, Otto opens far more frequently so his range is wider and he will often bluff to compensate for his weak range. So with Otto we can be more sticky/raise, but we have to be careful with others around in a multiway pot.

    In hand 1, the raise was to 30 and from early pos, which was not seen from this player. It’s important to consider actions that deviate from a player’s baseline. In the end, for multiway cbets and otherwise, it comes down to patterns and frequencies.

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.