I Love This Game, Ch. 5

The Village – How to turn poker into craps – No room at the inn    

The Village was the Other Casino – an entirely different entity. No Late Nite Tony, no Harvey Bumpback. Really, none of those guys who worked hard at poker, who treated it like the sales job they just left an hour before. Instead, the Village was exciting, packed, manic and most of all, rich. A full personality but with an opposing set of demands. Nested in the marvelous, snow capped Tobaggans, only a winding drive along the main pass to the empty, plaintive, and agricultural half of the state, the Village served a poker population utterly in apposition to Matton’s chatty and tricky opponents. It was East Coat versus West Coast, hyped up versus laid back, skill versus action.

There were two key ingredients that created the amazing brew of action and absurdity. The first was her proximity to the East Side of Seaport, home of Infovisor and the shamelessly flush tech sector. While you might not think of coders and nerds and project managers as gamblers, the software industry imports large numbers of their employees from all over the world, particularly Europe and India. These two cultures, especially the latter, foster gambling and a unpuritanical way of looking at life once in the great seemingly secular union. Since the majority of these tech immigrants are men, and because Seaport is slightly numerically skewed to women, the math tells the truth: legions of them need something to do with their time.

The Village is a lone gambler’s Siren.

The second reason, one much more frustrating to poker purist Sylvester but just fine with novice destroyer Sylvester, is the sad state of management of at the Village, with its roots deep in the foundations of the faux-cabin blueprint. The Uduanni tribe borrowed heavily to create the rain making card joint, but still ran out of money, not just before a hotel could be added (disaster) but even before the brick and mortar of the casino itself was done.  They had to overborrow, and trapped themselves into a gross arrangement where they still aren’t even making money nearly a decade later.

The white devil wins again.

It becomes stranger. This same crack management team seems to have set up the poker room as well. Instead of a low stakes entry cash game and a mid stakes game for the real players, they decided to have the best of both worlds. They spread their lowest game as $2/$5 blinds (meaning the base bet which the game revolved around), likely the only casino in the country to offer this as the entry point. Then, as if compensate, they created a restricted buy in of $300, reasoning that the traditional, family friendly $1/$2 and $1/3 players would be put at ease.

“Great!” The Ed Woods school of poker.

Poker insanity they wrought. As any experienced player or wiser gambling expert could have told them, they corrupted the game into something else. The combination of wealthy, lost adult men who had no idea how to play poker and the frustration of the ridiculous cap created a lost island tribe of card culture, an Australia whose evolution went unreplicated anywhere else.

The result: Stupid, Maddening, Clueless Action.

In other words, the Village was the stone cold (crazy) nuts.

Sylvester and Matton, then, didn’t go to the Village to play poker exactly. It was more of a table game against the other players, a sort of bingo for men. They (really meaning everyone) brought a bunch of money, expecting to somehow have more when the night was over.

Nothing was beyond these players. Play tight, hang on. Enjoy the ride.

Sylvester Mallis Jones was the Village addict of the two. He loved and hated this game. He loved it for the embarrassing quality of play. He was great at math and in the long run, really couldn’t lose at such a silly place. However, as we know, Sylvester was not interested in the long run. When he lost, it was catastrophic. He raged and howled. He threw cards and berated his dumbfounded opponents who were only trying to repeat what they saw everyone else do. When he broke the hinge on the poker room door after some standard beat, the dealers started calling him Bruce Banner.

Matton, on the other hand, was weary of the Village. He recognized the low hanging fruit but his theories on poker were largely wasted here. He knew everyone would realize the value of their cards. They didn’t want fold, and he recognized that they had no incentive to. Most of the players were making at least one hundred grand a year from their careers with no family to support, yet the casino would only allow them to put pocket change in play. So, they called you down for curiosity. They did nothing by the book. They turned middle pair into a bluff for grins.

For hand to mouth Matton, it was a place of mixed blessings. Worse, he just didn’t feel destined to win as Sylvester did.

The Village was a date, and Sylvester had the confidence and the fury to make a date work. Not even very deep in his heart, Matton wanted to skip the dating scene. But there was no avoiding it – not today when his buddy called him for action and for advice.

The two came up the back way to the room a staircase at the back of the slender parking structure (remember, out of money). Security was lax, not that these two had anything in mind, but everyone avoids the TSA if they can. Friday night, it was an uproar.

Waiting in the room, it’s no surprise: the lines are insane. They’re twenty away from getting into a seat. Glass surrounds the room – it’s as close to a figurative fishbowl as humanly possible. A thin man in a bad black suit seems to conduct the affairs – Stanley the wayward floorman. Matton tries to catch his eye, this many who knows everything that matters about the Village (and why his time is short there), but on this evening, even friendly faces get no time.

Matton points out a player in the game they’ve played with in a small, private game. Sylvester, still scanning for targets, doesn’t pay attention quite yet. He doesn’t like home games, and that suits Matton fine. Sylvester is always trouble in them. He tries to listen to headphones, which you can hear the Metallica at full blast. Matton isn’t the host but his inner sense of responsibility is tripped and he is extremely embarrassed.

The two consult. Matton is somewhat relieved; maybe they will go elsewhere. Sylvester is impatient and torn. He can’t sit still but is beside himself.

“Look! It’s Calling Smurf, Sugar Dave and Crazy Mike, all at one table! This could be the best night ever!”

“Best night,” Matton intoned: was it a complaint or steeling repetition? “Actually, watch this hand. That’s Braunfar.”



  1. Finally maybe the beginning of a story line! Not real hard to figure who these two are, and it will be fun to see them in action. Probably it needed a “grabber” in chapter one (“I need to know more; I’ll read on.”). And some more of story line in those early chapters. But now here we are in chapter five, and I need to know more! Huzzah!

  2. I’m here for ideas, but don’t really understand this comment. The beginning story lines are almost too clear: Braunfar wants to get laid outside of marriage, Matton has a gambling problem, and Sylvester is hedging on his commitment to a life with his girlfriend. What am I missing?

    1. If you moved chapter 5 up and made it chapter 1, followed by the others, THEN we would have some reason to find those people interesting. As it stands they are profusely presented, but why should we be interested in them? I certainly meant no offense, you asked for opinion.
      There is a book, “Sleep ‘til Noon,” written about 50 yrs ago by a man named Schulman. The opening sentence is, “ Bang! Bang! Bang! Three shots hit me in the groin! And thus began the mist interesting time in my life.”
      Now THAT is “a grabber.” Who could put that down?

      When you go to a bookstore, and you pick up a new novel, generally you open to the first page and read it. If there is anything there that seems interesting, you may flip through it for more pages, or you may just purchase it based on that first page and something interesting upon it.

      And of course, who considering others comments on the novel, you have to consider individual tastes and interests. Ultimately, you write to please yourself. So feel free to disregard my comments. BC

        1. Not THE plot here, but A plot. The plot is everything in a novel, and characters are presented and interpreted only in the context of plot development. It may be tempting to develop complete background on the characters first, but while as the writer they are “your creatures,” to the reader he looks first to the story with a question:

          “Is this a story I want to spend my time reading?” It isn’t a matter of visceral excitement necessarily, but a promise of being entertained as the story develops. The key thought in the reader when he begins to read a story is “ I want to know more.” And that’s why, “I couldn’t put it down,” is the ultimate praise for a story.

          Finally, sometimes with character development, less can be more. A sketch in some cases is best. Or an initial sketch with more facts made available later in the story, perhaps to dramatic effect. Actually their development as the story goes on is often a critical feature of the plot.

          Irrelevant facts can bog a story down. The color of the family dog’s hair, for example.

          1. alright, that’s a pretty serious criticism, as the writer is under the impression the plot is both clear and almost too heavy and quick to start. I’ll reflect before moving forward. Thanks.

  3. [Sigh] I wish for a return of the poker room at the village, bad management and all. It was a cozy 10 minute ride from my home (Eastside techie that I am). Now, it’s over 30 minutes to the nearest cardrooms, one a recently-opened madhouse dominated by PLO, Limit, NL,15-minute jackpots and hyper-aggros at the 1/3 NL tables; the other a fairly sedate, easygoing cardroom with fake beach accouterments.

  4. …So I’m left mostly playing my regular home game (25 miles away) and the monthly $40 donkament that runs in our local community… and watching Ali Najad hack his way through the PokerGo cash sessions with Berkey in tow as the trapped animal in a world of GTO robots. I pray to the Poker gods, bring online to our starved state and let me play against the Sylvesters and Mattons of the world again. Take me out of my misery.

      1. Well, not all is lost. Next week I travel to Tampa, FL and plan to check out the local 1/3 action. As I remember from one session played many years back in a dog racing / poker room setting, they are juicy, wild and unpredictable, yet surface-friendly.

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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.