behavior

The Not For Tourists Guide to Pro Poker

In a coincidence of holiday planning, both RC and CLP put out media on deciding to become and be a professional poker player around Thanksgiving Day. I noticed this in the uneasy tranquility of my Borgata hotel room: a place, its view casting upon the metal grey of the boardwalk casinos and the angry Atlantic beyond, to reflect on this journey- and what one might need to know before beginning it.

The Red Chip article which triggered their podcast is in fact very good. It isn’t the usual poker media fluff list (Five Tips For Playing Jacks from the Medium Blind!) or even a more localized casting call for some three betting ninjas. (What kind of ninja would call so much attention to himself?)

Nevertheless, what’s also striking about these sorts of guides, no matter how thorough they are, they never tell you what you really need to know.

The stuff no one told you but you wished you had heard before you began.

Or the stuff they did tell you but at the wrong volume, afraid to discourage you.

So to fill in the gaps, I am going to delve into what is demanded of many pro poker players beyond the basics of bankroll – especially for those of you who don’t have your life in order.

Now, for those of you who are naive, who don’t understand how the world works, who worship poker celebrities, who think the opinions of actors and musicians are important, who think nation states exist on attitudes and polls, who Stood With Her for Unaccountable Mediocrity or think a petty, hypersensitive, brazen reality television star will make you Great Again, in other words, the Fish…

…this might get painful.

Time to put on those shades you wear at the one two game!

Know Thine Edge Because it is Not Mathematically Quantifiable

This is a big one, because it has important ramifications. Whenever you see an article telling you how many hands you need to determine your win rate… pretty much hit Back.

You are in flux, your opponents are in flux, the game is in flux. You will never be in a static enough environment to glean precisely from the past what the future holds.

Are you planning on playing the same game with the same people at the same stacks every day of your playing life?

(I thought we were talking about poker, not hell.)

Now, to cover up their deficient reasoning, the poker advisers give you bigger and bigger samples to accumulate (100,000 hands, okay maybe 200,000 hands, oh, shit, you have that, let’s go for a million…).

So, why does this matter?

Because only you (and maybe some trusted advisers) can decide if you have the skill to make money professionally over an extended period of time.

Now, like anyone at the beginning of a career, you will learn. When you stepped out of college were you the proficient worker you are now?

What happens when the game undergoes its next seismic shift? Is your bb/100 number insurable?

Your win rate will change – if it ever really was yours to begin with. (It wasn’t, past self.)

So if you need to look at some graph to determine your future… you probably don’t have the one you are imagining.

Only knowledge of yourself and the game matters… because that’s where that bb/100 rate came from.

If the Greeks had Know Thyself, the poker sages (and the Goddess herself) would say: Know Thine Edge.

No Man is an Island, There is No Perfection, the Grass is Always Greener

No matter what you do, there will always be ramifications, compromises, and things that are lost, even as you gain from your decision.

The dream of being free is only as true as you are potentially free, which is to say, it is not true.

You will gain in freedom by going into poker full-time, but you will become subservient to a million factors – only some of which you could have predicted.

Do not pass over this lightly.

Professional Poker does not equal freedom. (It does, however, equal more poker.)

Further, if you are one of those people who have “problems with authority,” pay attention:

This is a really bad reason to go into poker on its own.

Authority comes in many forms, and everyone is subservient to someone or something. Those who can’t even recognize what they should respect or resist constitute the mass of muddled minds. Just look at the current political situation in the United States. These people – the same people who want to physically incarcerate climate change dissenters, change our tongue to fit their anthropological whims, and ban speakers with dissenting views from university campuses – wouldn’t know Fascism if Hugo Chavez turned over Mussolinis Full at showdown.

If you have problems with the normal forms of authority, such as with someone who hopes you show up on time a few days a week in exchange for your market value, it means you often cannot recognize the validity of an authority – nor examine its limitations and thus its proper place. You are in for a world and a life of confusion if not some pain. Worse for your development, you will gravitate to those with equal problems in order to maintain your illusions. Try to #Resist that whirlpool for an extended period of time.

Playing cards instead of participating in the noble workforce is only going to solve this problem for so long.

The organization of a successful society such as ours depends upon a hierarchy which does not in fact compromise individual self-worth or happiness. There is potential joy and dignity at every point on the spectrum for this reason.

In other words, address your personal issues separately from poker, for best results.

Now, there are people, in a similar and more potentive vein, who have the compelling want, and in some cases are nearly ready, to leave the corporate or governmental world in order to Be Their Own Boss.

It’s sympathetic. It’s a good dream.

The problem here is that this guy is often the Worst Boss in the World. He’s full of excuses for you, thinks along the same lines you do, and misses all the things you miss.

I’d want to get out from under his thumb, too.

In other words, you’re going to have to train him in leadership the same way you trained yourself in poker. And that will be a big problem for many of you, who at heart, got into pro poker because you are lazy, undisciplined, and your unusual cleverness at a glorified parlor activity covers it up.

Poker is a Social Nightmare

While this factor fits under the previous, it is very important for the aspiring poker player to realize fully.

The world does not organize itself around the poker player. Like an entertainer, or firefighter, or nurse, or some profession that finds its hours based outside the bright days of productivity, you will be confined and delimited by your profession.

However, while this is glamorous in the case of many professions, it is at its nut low in poker.

You will be tempted, and may even find it necessary, to play at hours when the game is best, such as Fridays or Saturday nights – just when the rest of the world is enjoying itself. This will become a problem for many of you, as finding companionship, community, and activity in life is critical for happiness – far more so than an uptick in your win rate.

The pro poker player often lives against the grain in order to enjoy more fully what he left behind: problem.

Then, until and unless you truly succeed, your choice of career will be looked askance and questioned by nearly everyone, from relatives and friends to potential mates.

Further, the people you meet in poker will not often overcome or compensate for this, and that’s about as nicely as I can put it.

There’s more, though. The world is bigger than poker, and you will find that your ability to four bet A10 and get JJ to fold really doesn’t translate into any sort of standing anywhere. You don’t need poker to become a day trader – imagining there is some natural career path or that employers are excited by the final table on your resume is a mistake in all but the most favorable circumstances.

In other words, as you gain in poker, unless you are diligent and cultivating other gardens, you will find that this is a field where success does not yield social standing in the same way more typical professions do.

In most cases, in fact, your social standing goes down. This is why many players become lovers of the signs of success – watches, cars, social media popularity – to project what otherwise would be more natural and naturally earned.

And what does that tell you?

When In Rome

The flip side of the danger of relying on poker for community is the poker’s great virtue: it is the game that erases social standing, bridges cultures, and makes men and women of all ages equal.

Poker is a great social past time.

Of course, there is a lot of fuss, most of it not even that subtly self-serving, about bad behaviors in poker, but at the table itself, there is no finer example of competing humans getting along and respecting each other. Like the seasoned Abe Limon, someone you can trust probably more than anyone else in the entire field of commentators, I have never witnessed an example of sexism or racism at the poker table. And even if you have, or you’ve heard of one, how do you think it compares to the rate of actually divisive opinions?

No, the hysterical, identity politics people – our own nervy canaries – are all wrong when it comes to our game.

This is because we are competitors given no advantage – no quarter – and thus must all fend for ourselves under an equal rule of law.

You’re in the Forum.

The poker table, not poker, is the great encapsulation of an ideal society, and by becoming a professional poker player, you not only get to take part, you become a guardian of it.

You’re in the Senate.

Not only is poker the great leveling game where anyone can win, the people in poker are the most interesting in the world. There is no stratus of society that does not visit the game. Even more telling, there is a tradition in poker of the players solving the issues that come up at the table.

You’re in the Colosseum.

If you have a healthy life, and keep somethings apart from Poker, you will be in a position to meet and appreciate more people than nearly any other activity you can imagine.

But if you ignore this, or partake of it badly, you’ll be missing out on one of the game’s great virtues while suffering under its defects.

Don’t be an atheist when you’re in the Pantheon.

More Poker Means Becoming a Part of Poker Culture

Nevertheless, poker players find many ways to evade these and other truths, and in doing so, fairly regularly take on the ironic, iconic Successful Poker Player Personality. Being given full opportunity to be unbought and independent, so many of them embrace the majoritarian, virtue-signalling mob instinct, despite taking on a profession that supposedly makes them the Outlier.

Just consider how they reamed out poor Martin Derbyshire every time he offered an observation, literally calling for his job because of opinion pieces. How online, illegally used poker sites became a tragedy and no one held themselves responsible, like people who blamed the banks alone for the financial crisis.

Et tu, Debitor?

Poker players, in other words, love the hall of mirrors they set up for themselves:

I’m independent, I beat the games, I read NVG for culture and get world news from Twitter.

So, they are great at poker (maybe), but what else?

Can you be nourished, culturally, spiritually, even physically, by this group?

Uh… no.

Now, I know some will scream about this (fortunately I am immune and unbought.) But you, alone, or with your family and friends, won’t find much comfort when you need it once you are familiar with their hypocrisy.

Truth has a way of giving the most unpleasant reach around you can imagine. The signs and images and things you love to love and love to hate likely do not mean what you think they mean.

You need, above all, reality, not even knowledge, to thrive in this world. The team colors don’t bleed for you as much as you will find you bleed for them, lass.

The poker community is as fickle as any other one, and any wisdom you take from it won’t hold you in the dead of night. The approval of a bunch of cluckers on Social Media, no matter how coolly they misspell everything and how marvelously snappy their choice of GIFs are, is far less comfort than you might imagine when you are in the grip of struggles.

What makes for a good life – balance, love, family, variety, neighborhood, spirituality, philosophy – must be brought in, imported, into the game.

It can be done. You can make poker work.

However, the trap of buying pieces, selling stakes, gambling, dealing with the desperation of others, reaching the limits of your edge, and all the subsequent highs and lows you are likely headed for, will be too much for you if your whole life is poker and the casino and gambling.

Now, obviously there are many success stories and happy people in poker. Don’t fill my comment boxes with illogical white elephant whining about some poker player’s charitable giving – especially when they have likely taken this road to escape the very emptiness I am warning you of. Don’t make my point for me.

And don’t tell me about bloody Alec Torelli’s beautiful life. I’m not talking about handsome men in scarves making great calls, floating through the YouTubes and inspiring beautiful women: I’m talking about the most likely pro poker outcome, the middle-income grinder, not poker’s (real) One Percent.

(This is one frequency you’d better tune into and one betting pyramid to get right, aspiring poker pro.)

The point is that if you are going into this field, set up a significant part of your social life and support system outside the game for best results and best chance of success.

Poker Players Become Lazy for a Reason

You may have noticed that many serious players seem to suffer from a certain “lay-about” attitude.

This is not a coincidence, and it may well overcome you if you are not careful. It’s not even the worst thing.

The reason behind this is twofold and related:

First, poker is a performance. It is exhausting, and the bigger you play, the more thought you will put into your decisions.

In other words, you are rather secretly working far harder than other people, on a decision for decision basis.

Poker, it turns out, is not all fun and games.

This means you will be fatigued and need recuperation time that you may not suspect. This is also why a lot of dreamers think they can just grind forty hours a week and then find it actually impossible.

It’s too much work, and their mind and body needs to linger and slow.

In other words, the poker player will often become lazy because in this way, his mind defends itself from the stress of the game.

Now, this fact is often worsened by another aspect of poker: poker’s toll on the natural rhythms of the body. Many players must put in not only long hours, but late hours.

Once you start doing this to yourself, you are prone to take on a certain lassitude that is endemic to the poker community and its professionals.

Be prepared to fight it or accept it – but it is likely coming.

Financial Freedom, not “Crushing,” is the Real Challenge of a Poker Player

You can always tell a fool by the words he chooses. Among the debris of Poker Mushrooms that have sprouted overnight only to be wiped out by evening are all the dorks who insist on Crushing Things, including most obnoxiously, “Crushing Life,” like a mutant alien species spawned from your basement computer in your mother’s house.

It’s hard to accomplish anything when you don’t know what you are talking about.

Poker is an enjoyable time of your life, and one of the best things to ever happen to me and others, but to make a full career of it, or even half a career, you need a full, specialized plan. One that is circumspect, wise, and slow.

You don’t crush out a full retirement fund unless you’re Fedor Holz.

No one but the most hardheaded, nearly sociopathic players can grind forty hours per week for twenty years.

Or want to.

This is because the game becomes somewhat rote after a while: just another job. Worse, in fact, because the natural need to produce and build is easily stymied by poker’s natural abstraction.

Just what you were trying to avoid!

So the smartest players get interested in their Nest Egg, Financial Life Plan, Savings Goal, Businesses, Diversification – whatever it is and whatever word it is – that works for them – very, very soon.

And slowly work toward it, balancing all their cash flow needs.

The winners don’t wait for a better spot.

They want to move on, move up, and accomplish and enjoy and create.

Those who didn’t? Mostly, they just got crushed.

The Highs of Poker Must Matter, Because Poker Owes You Nothing

For many players the fruits of their labors are not crisp apples but mealy applesauce.

This is no way to make use of your poker orchard.

What I am talking about it is an intuitive and studied phenomenon.  We humans are essentially conservative.

We are afraid to lose what we have, and will risk more to protect less.

While this has a profound effect on the game’s play and strategy, it also has a very interesting effect on our attitude toward our results:

Poker players lament their losses more than celebrate their wins.

Yet this is no way to live out a career. Think about it: If a great player wins between one half and two-thirds of his sessions, an incredible amount of suffering is coming his way if he remains under the spell of this attitude.

The professional poker player, then, must endeavor to enjoy his success for the good of his body, soul, life, and loved ones.

Many good ones naturally do. The great winners are often extraordinarily happy people with or without poker.

Benny the Crank at the Meshuga Card Room and Karaoke Bistro, still whining about Donkey John’s suckout on Tuesday ruining his month’s hourly, isn’t.

There is causation and correlation here – a winning, positive attitude engenders a career in poker because it creates sustainable work attitudes.

And ultimately, when you are an established winner, and you look at the long-term, you can celebrate your losses with a little humor, too, knowing the game belongs to you – just not every day.

And there will be a lot of those days, because poker owes you nothing. (I feel some emphasis coming on.)

Poker Owes You Nothing

In the end, all things are the same or similar. All is diversion, and then you die.

However, how honestly you face this in part decides who you are.

The deck, aspiring poker pro, is stacked against you.

The facts of poker – all that you can count on – are this: swings, rake, and decisions.

Can you do it? Can you beat this game?

Maybe.

But if you think the game owes you something, that you are supposed to win, that you are surrounded by fish, that your opponents are dunderheaded farm animals waiting for the slaughterhouse, the road ahead will be hard.

And I dearly hope it is for you, if you think you deserve to win.

Because Poker owes you nothing.

You must claim what you want.

GL.

 

 

Performament Patty vs. Mace Daddy

6 Comments

  1. This one was worth the wait. Thank you for the blog. It really gave me food for thought. I am looking forward to sitting and pondering for a while.

  2. Great post. There’s another fundamental factor to consider. Since poker is a zero sum game, for a pro to earn anything at all in the “long run”, there has to be a convergence of skill and luck. This also means that the game desperately needs a feeder system of new and learning players to finance the pros, similar to any pyramid scheme. With the demise of online poker in the US, that feeder system has essentially collapsed and left us with the choice of playing low-stakes live games with a preponderance of amateurs but with low profit potential, or playing the higher stakes which pits the pro against his (or her) peers in skill-set.

    I also think that the path of part-time play may be a good choice. With today’s modern gig economy, some of us can work part time in a risk-free occupation and devote 10-20 hours a week to the game. This may apply more to semi-retirees than young guns. But who knows, with the inevitable collapse of our 20th century house of cards economy, this may become more and more coomon.

  3. The game is contracting, for sure. However, as long as people love to gamble there will be money in poker. When I look out into the strange sea of people in the casino in the table games, I see an even less sensical form of entertainment and a pool of new recruits.

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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.

Analog
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.

Balance
Choosing to support either value bets or bluffs with their converse.

Bet
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.

Block
To remove combinations of hands from a range based on cards in your hand or on the board.

Blockers
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.

Bottom
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.

Bounded
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.

Capitalization
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”.

Capped
A range is capped when it represents little to no nutted combinations as confirmed by prior action.

Cbet
A continuation bet. A bet made by the player with initiative as a continuation of their initiative on a prior street.

Clarity
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.

Combinatorics
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.

Complete
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.

Condensed
A capped range that contains only middling value hands. A range without the polarized portion.

Construction
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.

Deviation
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.

Downbet
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.

Efficiency
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.

Elasticity
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.

Equity
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.

Felted
The result of losing your entire table stakes. All the way down to the felt.

Float
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.

Formation
The convergence of positions, stack depths, and preceding actions at a given decision point.

G-Bucks
A mathematical formula developed by Phil Galfond for calculating the expected value of one’s range construction vs. an opponent’s holding.

GIGO
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.

Initiative
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.

Isolate
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.

LAG
Loose aggressive player type. Generally overused and inaccurate.

Lead
A bet made from out of position after a passive action. Often referred to as a donk bet on the flop.

Leveling
He knows that I know that he knows I know.

Leverage
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.

LFI
Limp First In

Linear
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.

Merge
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).

Nit
A player who will not put chips into the pot without a very strong and sometimes only nutted hand.

Nuts
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.

OMC
Old Man Coffee. Typically an older, retired player that likes to play bingo with ATC, but will only continue with the nuts.

Open
The first voluntary action. The first action or bet to voluntarily enter the pot.

Overbet
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.

Polarized
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.

Protected
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."

Raise
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.

Realization
Taking a hand to showdown and realizing its full equity.  Generally used with regard to passive actions.

Reciprocity
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.

Retention
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.

Robustness
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.

Runout
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.

Smurf
Any one of many possible poker archetypes found at low stakes games.

Squeeze
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.

Stop-N-Go
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.

TAG
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.

Top
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.

Upstuck
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.)

Unblock
A hand that has no negative card removal effects on the target range.  Bottom set, for example, unblocks top pair top kicker.

Uncapped
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.

Unicorn
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”.

Warmer
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.

WIFSUWO
“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.

YMC
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.