Eight Bluffs

It’s not all about you.  Poker teaches many lessons, and the reasonable players among us learn that one quickly, go crazy all the time, or quit.  At the games last night, the action was so sweet and heavy I conceived of a chip dispenser that could be installed, like an automatic shuffler in the table, to keep the wide eyed gamblers conveniently in greens and blacks.  One guy won thirteen buy-ins in less than five hours at the snails pace of maybe twenty hands per hour.  If this result had been at a tournament table you would have screamed collusion: nobody dislikes money as much as these guys, that’s impossible! Floor!

Me? I lost.  I was left out in the cold, unwarmed and frigid as the brutal arctic air outside.  While the spew monkeys were calling four bet shoves with middle pairs (and were briefly good, naturally), I might as well have been dealt all night a deuce and that card that has all the hand rankings in tiny print.  I could never get involved with value, except for one pot where a limp calling goof flopped the stones versus my TPTK.  He mumbled his bets (hurtie hive hwollars) and tilted me out of my mind with his Hollywooding fear on the river before betting (ia bewt hevendi hive hwollars) with a broad, ridiculously happy smile, but I got it under control, and just folded the 79dd from UTG2 the next hand.  Steam test: passed.

What I did do was pull the trigger in eight spots with the worst of it.  I was never going to win last night, but if I had kept the gun in the holster in the worst one, I would have been a little better off.  Overall, however, my efforts to extract a little moisture from the air were occasionally well thought out.

  1. Bum move. I open the 67dd 6x and pick up the SB, a reg with a face card heavy range.  On K106ccc, he leads into me, exposing his one pair hand.  I make a big raise and we get it all in.  He goes with it because he has the jack of clubs in his hands.  This bluff was not the best use of my range, although I can see him folding without a club.  There are two mitigating factors: he was drinking, and he tossed out the bet confidently, not scared in finding out where he was at.  In his mind, top pair and a medium flush draw was the stones.  I should have judged him and his mood, much, much better, but I was doing a little double take in my mind about his always hitting top pair in our pots.  However, that is the nature of calling with all face cards hands, as he does.
  2. Outplaying AK. Against the Mumbler’s isolation raise, I three bet AK, putting him squarely on his own AK. I know his behavior and sizing to a tight fitted T.  On Qxx, I put in a half pot cbet knowing this is all it will take. He folds.
  3. Pick up the straddle. After being card dead for so long, my image is tight.  I open J10 a little foolishly, and even at the world’s loosest table, win a few more sweet antes with air.
  4. Bad read. I check the button on the flop multiway with AcJs on KQ5sss. On a blank 4, it checks to the PFR, the Koala, who bets one third pot.  I interpret this as a cheap steal and raise.  His eyes flash in surprise that someone has taken the bait and min plus raises me.  I was wrong, Koala is Axss heavy from the CO and has trapped me.  He rips low flushes and flats worse; the faux min raise is the kiss of Koala death. Running bad. Fold.
  5. Turn sizing. I open AQhh to 6x and pick up the Grasshopper, an absolutely silent player with a lot of moves and hero calls, not a good barrel candidate.  On 10106, I barrel once, get the call.  On the K turn, I bet very strong on this perfect scare card, and he releases, convinced I have caught up.  Weak players often double their bet sizing on the turn to save cash, but your bets usually have to grow with the pot to look threatening- and be balanced for when you want all the cash in the middle.  And yes, if he raised me, I was going to consider going with it as his floats include QJ and middle connectors.  That would have been fun, maybe.
  6. Good squeeze. The Koala in the cutoff isolates a very weak limp from a face up player, and the Mumbler makes the call.  In position I three bet A9cc.  The Koala surrenders his fairly obvious light iso, but the mumbler, who is a gambler, makes the double flat. We see Qxxcc, pretty good considering I am behind pre.  The Mumbler leads and I SNAP ship it, which I figure will unnerve him. He releases a hand like tens or eights relatively quickly, feeling that he is drawing near dead.  He is an information bettor, and I had observed him check min raise with top pair no kicker on a paired board to find out where he was at. Very odd but very valuable to know.
  7. Bad squeeze. Having taken a hit, I am briefly under a full stack, and raise 44 over four straddled limps. The Grasshopper gives off a subconscious strength tell and min plus raises me. The field folds and I am in an impossible spot getting 2:1 but needing set mining odds against his premium. This was not a good play because of my stack size.  The iso is right, the holding is wrong. The only question is whether it was a soft limp or a hard fold.
  8. Delayed cbet. I open Q9s and find the Mumbler, who mwalls. The board favors him but an ace hits the turn. It’s thin, because he is an ace-flatter, the kind of guy who shows up with AQ inexplicably, but I take a read, take the opening and win.

The Thirteen Buy-In Man leaves, tired from racking donkey dollars. I have a glance at the wounded field. The Sommelier looks stunned in defeat, his sunglasses misaligned on his already comical head, his hair is puffed and diffused from all his backfiring blowups. A spazzy Pakistani stares into the distance, like a soldier who has heard too much cannon fire.  I’d feel sorry for him but he energetically fake shuffles his chips, like some sort of street performance scammer: why not just learn, you bizarre bumpkin?  We’ve only been doing this together for four years.  The Koala, the Banker’s mini-me minion, is well up and satisfied with himself. He’s laughed and had a great time and made big hands. His endless rungood, so exasperating to Gargamel, lasts to the end of the evening, where he shoves middle pair and sets up to felt a tilted nit: same old story.  Yes, he’s happy, the Koala, maybe the only one at this post poker disaster zone.

I’m too tired to be happy or sad: I’m just spent.  I pick up my bluffing chips, tip the world’s worst dealer in some sort of self-destructive ironical perversity, and head back out into the cold.



    1. Here’s hoping you write a book one day… And based on the length and frequency of your blog posts, one day should be enough time.

      Some days you eat the fish…

  1. I’ve got that thread up to go over later. Looks good.

    Has koala smurf won a big jackpot before? Oh, that’s right. There are no jackpots in that village.

    1. Involuntary upper facial microexpression for optimism, (followed by fake concern, followed by stack inquiry, followed by small inducing raise… i.e. STONE COLD NUTS.)

      1. Speaking of upper facial area tells, I omitted this item from a post that is coming out: I was watching a hand last night where a guy with obv kk+ was betting into a queen on the turn. I realized his opponent had 99/1010 and was at at a loss for what to do. Finally he called, and when a nine hit the river, his whole upper forehead relaxed like he had just been given a reprieve. Oblivious AA stacks off vs. 999. #payattention.

  2. Interesting post, as always. More interesting comment. Have you studied Ekman? I often wonder why more is not made of his work in poker circles. Or maybe I’m just not in the right circles.

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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.

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.