Jack Manbuns Wants Your Seat

I was watching Live at the Bike last night, where LA grinder and LATB commentator JJ de la Garza was gettin’ busy. He’s a sharp looking guy, appropriately and comfortably dressed for the poker battle. His hair is tied up in a knot, poker samurai style. JJ seems a bit hot-blooded, antsy. He looks like he works out on exercise machines while the sun drowns the Angelenos: he’s obviously fit but a little pasty and splotchy. He gives off waves of well-being, and I imagine his girlfriend and family love him quite a bit.  He has a broad grin when he laughs and chats.

Mr. Manbuns is no cool customer, though, and will brazenly resaddle multiple times to get into better position for the race. Things haven’t gone his way, and the evening is fast passing into night. So far, the easy money has eluded him. He’s been bluffed by a slippery reed player in a goofy hat and Bernie swag; it’s not that big of a deal on a paired board where only a flop bet went in and all pairs can get value, but the small mistake apparently requires a walk to simmer down.

Now he’s back. JJ is looking for the perfect spot to get everything he thinks is coming to him from a loose player.

I’ve never been great at seat selection myself, and one of my posted laments is the lack of wisdom out there about it beyond a few simple ideas. I know why this is the case – it’s really about knowing the tendencies of all your opponents, and I conversely spend a lot of time casing them before I care enough to know where I want to be – but observing the general principles of money flow is probably such an overwhelming factor that I am likely making it too difficult. JJ kept to the overriding principle, and got himself where he wanted to be. Beyond my strategy, I’m often too reticent to be so obvious and too arrogant to think it matters: I like to think I can come up with a strategy for anyone from anywhere, but I am often jealous of the easy scores my opponents make when they take JJ’s approach at the Village cash fountain. Nights like last night, where I am playing my ass off, and some dumpling is repeatedly pressing an ATM withdrawal button with his fat thumbs, are annoying and the feeling of missing the boat wearisome.

Gargamel is another like JJ who openly bumhunts. Not only does he work hard to sit exactly where he wants, the first thing he does when he sits down is ask for a seat change button. He knows what his plan, now just a habit, is and will stick to it. A second thing he does better than me – maybe better than anyone – is watch the game list. While I’m busy searching for the faintest correlations in physical actions, counting stack sizes, and formulating plans, he has one eye not only on the potential players, but on all the tables, the rest of the room, and even the rail beyond. He’s seeking out the marks. He bragged to me the other day that no one in the casino knew before he did when a noted whale was in the casino. I believe him.

I couldn’t help but relate all this to the very thoughtful post and thread started by Imperator on RC. In the course of the debate, Soto and Berkey crossed over a topic related to Manbuns’ Warrior Quest: finding spots. While I agreed with Imperator in principle – and how could I not because he wasn’t saying anything exactly new but instead, rephrasing a poker truism almost suspiciously well – it was never really much of an argument in terms of theory and his real hunting dog, the pursuit of excellence. My opinion that money matters perhaps comes from my personal experience and wrapping my mind around punching above my weight; yet I, of all people, do not reduce the game to the “nuts and bolts of cards, money, and decisions,” among other things. I wrote a bunch about the thread, taking on a wide range of the the discussion for the blog, including morality and love of the game, but as the thread and my essay wore on, I grew weary of it all. I liked what I was writing and don’t like restraining myself, but I’m not in the mood for musings and assertions. Everyone knows disregarding the money is key. This very night I again went to war with people whose net worth is up to fifty times mine. Yet I played well and it was I who put the fear in them – which is only possible because it’s obviously not all about money. My problems lay elsewhere. So thanks, Imperator, for refocusing us.

Seats are opening up on LATB: unusual. I often think, mistakenly, that I should be able to beat my opponents from any position. I’ll stay at a tough table because I don’t like backing down. I can also be just straight out lazy about moving around because, frankly, I like and do a lot of things for my own sedentary convenience. I don’t drive in bad traffic, so I either arrive early for the games or too late, often missing the so-called “Happy Hour” at the Village, where the software folks provide a download of cash. Even when I had a 9-5 job, I made sure to live nearby so I could walk to work. With seniority and accomplishment, I pushed back my starting hour until noon seemed like an early day. I don’t cook for myself much anymore, and luxuriate away too much of my winnings in the most irresponsible manner. I would do better by my bankroll if I took up JJ and Gargamel’s EZ button strategies. One of the most disturbing comments to me personally was the Imperator’s observation that smart people often harm themselves and others around them the most – it would not hurt me to go about this business of poker, among other things, in more humble, straightforward way.

However, in a summary and slightly terrifying monologue late in Imperator’s thread, Berkey painted a picture of the future of the games I have not contemplated. You see, in my mind, the games will always be good. Poker has not changed that much in twenty years at the low to mid-levels. There is still plenty of dead money (often just the nearly literal kind, dumped loosely and undefended into the pot) in games up to 5/10. The 2002 in a lot of players, hidden for a few orbits, often emerges pretty quickly despite a lot of 2016 makeup. Yet what if this is not the case? What if I move back up, push on a little further, and have not done my best to be prepared, to stay ahead of the game? What if, in following Gargamel and Manbuns on the prowl for spots and easy exploits leaves me in a bad place? With Poker Snowie, PIO Solver, and a host of GTO products breaking in even to the 1/2 rank and file, where does trapping Bdonk really get me in the end?

Gargamel runs hot against me, always has, still does. Sometimes I have to bluff him just to get a little even, despite our general avoidance of each other. Just the other night, I finally had him with AA, for only the second time in what seems like a decade of poker, and he ironed it out again in a four bet pot. Scarcely believable, if you knew all the hands and details. However, it’s really a drop in the bucket, and I have a hard time caring. It’s an inexplicable thing and part of the mystery of variance. The future, however, is worth considering more seriously. The future can be attacked strategically. Money is quantified energy, and time is money. It’s all cash, all big blinds, and all of it is finite, especially at my age.

Or is it? If I have the ability to turn my funds into much, much more, to turn poker into the nest egg I need, I must to find a better way to study and improve my game a few ticks. Some of my poker abilities are amazing, but I am like your neighbor’s Jaguar you once envied but that’s always in the shop. For a few weeks now, I have been realizing that my selective reading and autodidact methodology might not be good enough, but I don’t precisely know what would be better. Studying poker through books just seems a tad like cheating (I realize that is absurd but is just a sort of gut sense I suffer from), and I’ve never finished one (aside from Let There Be Range, but that’s more a pamphlet), bored or irritated by the writing style or the lack of logic in the presentation. Pretty shallow, perhaps, but I do prefer thinking it all out on my own, using the books for selective reference, or discovering the game in the give and take of online dialogue. (Having read Berkey’s comments on that, I am inspired to get the hell out of the forums I muck up, and find a new way.) Even if there is no acceptable outlet for learning, even if playing with the bad boys and the rich kids is gambling and negative and basically crashing a party of my betters, I still have my own mind, my desk and a cup of coffee. If anything for me specifically came out of Imperator’s thread, it’s that I need a more thorough plan, and soon. The games change and shift, and I may not always have the best seat – or any seat – at the table.

The evening wears on. Players prematurely vacate the notorious RFID table, disconsolate over their results, tilted by their own narcissism. It’s hard enough losing on your own if you are a tilter: imagine all your peers watching you do it. However, it’s working out for Manbuns: he finally gets where he wants to be, right up next to the loose player.

At last, he’s ready to get his payday. JJ’s smiling. Everything’s good. The topknot perches just a little higher.

The future can be planned for but is hard to predict, however. Within an orbit or so, the loose player, eyes black and beady and cunning, senses something, something perhaps indefinable but clearly adverse.

He racks up. The loose player leaves. This game will not last.



Dear friends,

Thank you for reading this blog, I hope you enjoy it half as much as I enjoy creating it. Unfortunately, I must take a break to deal with personal issues, so I’m putting myself on blogging hiatus. This is not a soft ending, or a retirement, I hope. I have loved doing this as much as anything I’ve done in a long time, so you can imagine I’m not stopping for light reasons.

I’ve promised several blog reviews to different bloggers, and should I return to “OOP,” I will get to them right away. In fact, thanks to all of you fellow bloggers who put up with my impertinence. I hope you understand that I love writing and reading and thinking about what we say and put out there. I planned on reviewing many things, actually, including what should be a good piece on the phenomenon of “Pokémon”; makes me smile just thinking about it. This is has been a great pleasure.

Lastly, I can’t help but notice that it’s been two years now since I’ve played poker for a living. I’d like to share with you everything I’ve learned (and somehow still haven’t fit into my ridiculous pieces), but the time is not right.

So good-bye for now, and I wish you the greatest in all your endeavors.






  1. I’m very sad to the see the blog have even a temporary end.

    Bumhunting seems somewhat looked down upon, but I think much of the money earned in live poker comes from the whales/action players/stations and otherwise weaker competition. The money won by being on level 29 when your opponent is on level 28 is much less and comes with higher variance. I’m ready to play against our own local gym wear donning backpack kid, but neither of us is going to meaningfully beat the other over a large sample.

    I also think fear of the future with regards to live poker competition should be tempered some. How many regs can you think of since we started in 2011 that noticeably and significantly improved? I can only think of one. That all said, it’s good to have other things going for you financially.

    In this entry, you have seemed to undersell your own poker ability and results. There’s more to be done, but your thought and execution are top level in my estimation.

  2. I have really enjoyed your blog along with your posts on RCP. When I read the RCP posts I look for “persuadeo” in anticipation to what insight that you may have on the subject at hand. I can only hope that I will one day soon read the name “persuadeo” again. May you “live long and prosper”.

    Matt (Charles Town, WV)

  3. Thanks to both of you. I love poker but there is a screen between me and it right now. I’ve been putting off dealing with this and its causes, but ultimately have to solve the basic problems first.

    As for bumhunting, the creation of this post strangely coincided with the other Berkey-involved thread on bankrolls and approach to the game. It’s had a profound influence on me; there is much to sort out.

  4. Very best of luck in whatever it is you need to conquer. I’ve been a big fan from afar and have come to check this blog daily in hopes of a new post. I appreciate your taking the time to respond to many of my posts and even my direct questions to you. I was – am – honored you choose to write about not one, but two of my posts. I hope your current situation does not prevent you from attending the RCP game in June. I was looking forward to playing with you, provided you are not on my direct left.

    Good luck, Godspeed, Best wishes, whatever it is you need,


    1. Thanks for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed them and hope whatever I said was helpful. We’ll see about the game, and never worry about too much about someone on your left. Just do your best, and torment whoever’s on your right!

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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.