I’ve been busy, and while still on track to get back to 85 hours this month, had missed an entire week of poker. However, last night’s performance was last week’s show all over again, with another solid win that pushed me past my monthly target, despite being in deep to start. Friday’s shitstorm at the Village looms as the potentially defining session.

Lots of interesting hands and concepts came up. I had doubled up quickly, then sank back to even, when I took a spot just to be involved with a tricky old dude. The five dollar completion cost me my whole stack.

Gramps was yukking it up, playing and acting like a novice. He did have a cunning, hardened look about him, but his play was so weak, I decided it couldn’t be an act.  So when he started straddling and it somehow folded all the way to me in the big blind with K9, I did something I almost never do: flat, looking to play a pot. Limping in, essentially.

Gramps snap raises me, and here’s where I go wrong. I read him as merely having straddle brain, and attacking way too light. He’d made some plays and talked in excitement, his mood was good, and his straddle was a new development.  I call again, planning on making a play for the pot or going with any pair. The flop comes out J9xdd, and I check it over to him.  He makes an absurdly large bet – and then does something that completely fools me: he give me a significant weakness tell.  His hand look like Ax that missed. I’m not in love with it, but follow through with my plan and rip in my entire stack. I’ve done this sort of thing before in similar situations. He SNAP calls and wins with AJ.

Stuck again. However, he now goes on to play better and looks comfortable, as if he was a different player. His fish talk ends.

I’ve been had. He Old Schooled me by sandbagging his chops and gave me a reverse tell. Owned the real fish.

However, my year of struggles has given me perspective. The long run is long, and one hand rarely defines a session. I rebuy, and stack a tournament player who had overflushed me a few orbits before. Revenge. From there, it’s all up and down until I regain control of the table and begin the push for total victory.

In one hand I use the board texture to play my range well and get a solid player, one of the rare winners in the room, to pay me off. On J109, a disaster flop three way for my overpair, I check it over to the button, who checks behind, taking away my potential x/r. On a nine, the strong player in the blinds leads out. I know he has some nines, but, he is well balanced, and his overall holding is skewed to top or middle pair. He’s a thin value bettor. I make the call, as it is WAWB vis a vis what he is representing, expecting the fish on the button to min raise a nine or otherwise do something stupid to let me know if he is ahead; but he folds. On a river five, the strong player checks, and I put out a large, polarizing bet. It’s a tough line, and he does actually look confused, but I can tell he thinks I have too many draws here, and calls.

It may seem like I won the pot with an overpair and that’s easy, but given the constrictions of how I play, I am very happy with how I played this multiway pot.  He is a strong player but not strong enough to realize I am going to have a balanced checking range, and his face, considering how aggressively he has seen me play in the past, expressed his confusion well once he saw my holding, I know he would just bet out on the flop, and he thought I was the same man. It just goes to show that there is more to the game than button clicking aggression: everything should be in synchronicity.

I witness some amusing hands along the way, including some donk on donk violence where no money goes in after the flop with 777 vs. AK on J47xK. As Gargamel says, give me that set. (Or as I’d say, give me that AK.)

There’s a lot of hivemind criticism in the forums whenever I suggest certain plays, most recently three betting the flop, something I have, incidentally, covered in three different blog posts. “Uh, what are they going to call us with that’s worse, blah, blah, blah” and all that black and white stuff.  First of all, what they are going to call US with are only two jokers, because WE don’t play the same. The other, equally important point, is that if you are playing tough, you are playing a range. Whatever you have, is just part of that range. Sometimes you just have the lower part of it, as Wikileaks has posted in a series of compelling hand histories on RC. When you break up your holdings into hands, you can get owned very easily. Case in point:

A fairly active player, the quiet and thoughtful pudgy type, opened from early MP large, and it folded to me on the button with A5cc. It’s certainly not the nut best spot, but weighing the factors, including my holding and my image, I decided now was the time to test him out. Because he has only 100 bbs and he opened large (a good move by him), I can’t flat profitably against his represented range. All the pieces add up to a three bet, and I pull the trigger.

Here’s where he loses the hand: he calls. He’s close to the top of his represented range, hasn’t gotten that out of line, and has every incentive to four bet. In fact, from his behavior I can pretty much put him on one hand: AK. What a disaster. He’s going to fourbet me with QQ+ but break up the top of his range, telling himself, “What are they going to call me with that’s worse, blah, blah, blah.”

The flop comes 10xxccc – I flop a flush that I should have never even seen. Plus, I’m going to play it really well. He checks to me, and I check it back. I’m going to rep scared AK/AQ, and I don’t want to lose him so easily, now that I know he’s messed up his hand preflop and exactly what he is holding by piecing off his range. I’ve also checked the flop many times as the aggressor, and given up. Bart Hanson advises fast playing flopped flushes, but that is going to be more applicable with deeper effective stacks and in single raised pots. Further, there is no compulsion to bet a bloated, three bet pot with any hand. Ace on the turn: bingo. He now leads, because I’ve checked the flop. But the punishment for him is not over: I flat his bet, forcing him to play the river. It’s another club, which I don’t like, and is fact only kind of card I don’t want to see. He checks. However, now he’s opened himself up to the bluff, so I move all in, again polarizing rather than looking for a targeted value bet. I can see he’s trying to understand how I could possibly have a flush. He checked the flop, he didn’t raise when the four flush came in.  Eventually he drops a chip in and I add another 100 bbs to the stack.

At one point I horrify myself, far worse than from any bad play I made. A new player, obviously more experienced and more dangerous than the others, sits down.  I will have to deal with him, and end up doing so very successfully. However, I am fiddling on my phone during one hand, and look up to see him get called and showdown a set.  I’ve missed all his behaviors. Smartphones kill win rates. I leap up and take a walk as if I’ve taken a beat and need to clear my head.

The evening churns on. I get paid by the new competent player when I hit a very disguised hand on the river, having barreled each street. This time I target my bet sizing to his perceived holding, and I think that was the difference. I wish I could always be consistent in my thinking, but live poker is a war and it felt right at that moment to extract from what I knew was his value range rather than go for gold.

With all my stacks of green, I wanted to play on. After all, last week’s monster session lasted fourteen hours, and I came prepared for an encore. However, a couple things happened which sent me home early. First off, the floor would not accommodate probably the only request I had ever made of him. Second, an old man at my new table, the only one running, was ill, and I felt his germs. I did not want to get sick. I had picked up 80 bbs at this table in a few minutes, as I was continuing to play as well as I can… but health is everything. The fish are always out there, and I can listen to Scriptnotes if I get home early enough.

Another good day at my $5 blind commitment.



Meanwhile, in the Village


  1. I noticed in many articles, more so in others, but a bit in this one, that you seem to have a strong ability to pick up on physical tells. Is this something you study? Or do you think it is more innate? I know it’s something I seldom use, which makes me wonder what that’s costing me.

  2. I don’t think much is innate, but we are conditioned by life to have inclinations. I’ve always had an interest in human behavior and it has transferred well onto the felt. Can’t claim to have studied it much, but I should, because some of the stuff I have come across makes sense. The Matt Boyd fellow who commentates on LATB is remarkably observant and worth listening to.

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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.