session strategy

Ten Nine, Off and On

I’ve found an unusual game at a small cardroom previously unknown to me. Worn out by emotional fatigue and the stress, frustration, and guilt of spending down my bankroll on various relaxations, I’ve wanted to warm up to the bigger games – 5/10 with our old friends such as the Sommelier, the Banker, the Koala, and the tourney pros that round out my scene – slowly. The structure and the game culture of this tiny casino – 1/3 with usually just as much or more money on the table than in the local 2/5 – is entirely situated to my skill set: deepstack, multiway poker.

Exactly what I needed, in other words. After a couple weeks, I’m averaging an absurd thirty bbs per hour, which is a perhaps more suggestive of how big it plays than it is sustainable – but I’ll take them all the same. I want to feel entirely On when I get back to the Big Boy games- a feeling I have had trouble recapturing since my troubles of last spring.

In any case, since I’ve been remiss in sharing sessions of late, I thought I would write up a small one I found interesting. Beyond the balance of concerns that create a good line, the spot reminds me of how inaccurate my or anyone’s hand-reading can be until we know an opponent extremely well.

I had been opening large – exactly 7x in honor of some ridiculous tweet – but in truth it was not far off my usual 5x or 6x. Still, reacting ranges were being contorted only mildly. It’s true that the nits were now flatting some premiums. However, I could easily get away from certain runouts – and had to in one unhappy spot. For them, the problem is greater. Despite the safety of flatting strong, it is more or less impossible to range me, as 8d4d, 4c3c, 5s3s and such are in my EP deepstack opening range. They have to wait until the turn or river, where both the tightest and widest ranges, under the duress of equity and money pressure, each compress and shrivel holdings into clearer view.

Moreover, nits are easy to identify and play perfectly against. The issue for many unfortunate players is that they can’t make 1 + 1 = 2, and give action far too lightly in certain spots. It occasionally makes my blood boil, while I’m laboring to make qd10d sing as my premium for the evening, when some rock gets all he can eat with his axax and goes home rewarded for playing horribly.

It means his opponents aren’t even playing the game, even if he isn’t really, either: crash test dummies fill many poker seats, not just Poker Butts.

On the other hand, many players have harder strategies to identify and define. Fortunately, what often unites them is the desire to to gamble, especially among those whose tools are primarily suited to play Donkey Chain Poker, an equity realization style which exists all the way up the food chain. (Even the biggest games I’ve played in are not free from weak play, which should give hope to anyone trying to move up or cease being scared of The Regs.)

Pot odds, like the sleep of reason, can justify anything, apparently. Naturally, in medium stack games this strategy is terrible and a clear loser – I would have no poker career if this were not true.

However, nothing is ever simple. In these deeper games, where everyone has at least 200 bbs, the preflop error is changed, if not lessened. If you were to run a hot-cold analysis of how their range plays, you would not find it far behind mine – a disaster when we play the 80 bb showdown game, but here they may get to use this against me, given room to play, an overlay, and the fear of a protected pot. Hands can transform from tickets to suckerville into moldable pieces of equity if offered stacks to fight for.

Deep into this session, and with exactly the image I want – shady – I opened 10s9c from middle position and picked up three callers. With about 85 in the pot and against a variety of stacks – I have $1500 and am easily covered by the button – all of us see Ks Js 6c.

I do have a backdoor spade draw but because I am assuming these guys are not folding any suited ace, I am not looking to barrel through spades. That said, I do want to barrel this flop in anticipation of dodging spades. Because I hold key cards in a middle preflop calling range, I am going to find a cbet here on a moderately good board.

First, though, a note on my preflop holding. It is not in my opening range as contrived, as I tend not to use unsuited cards and thus control my range. Barreling is key in deepstack play, and I need backdoor equity in almost every pot when taking on 2-5 opponents.

So why did I open such a weakling? The answer, among other things, is that frequencies matter.  Balance, if I can use that term here and knock out a question, works from day one of your poker career, and continues to at any stake. Further, the level of doubt and fight at a table can be sensed or deduced, and until we are confronted, a mixture of bluffs and value keeps us with a reasonable image of normal human proportions. Without it, all but the most idiotic opponents can deduce our actions. As for my table, it was still at a simmering point – not scalding but ready for a big pot. I want to be seen as active and ready to put the money in.

Hands do not exist in a vacuum – one of the failings of a more disciplined, GTO inspired approach. If I wait for better holdings – a good defense, of course – I will win the equity war more often but I will not be a part of giant, week-defining pots unless lucky enough to take part in a supercooler. The hold’em player should be playing hands constantly, looking to win a massive pot by creating the conditions for one. His opposite, the nit, is there to avoid losing small pots- his wins are accidental. It is only math, as his table equity share – the nit’s strategic filter – is limited for every session and can’t so be splurged on speculations. Balance helps rectify his condition, even if the idea was developed for other purposes originally.

Now, continuation betting is an art, which is to say it is a science often unexplained. So why is this, of all spots, a good one? For one, my cbetting frequency is, among winning players, extraordinarily low. Therefore my perceived range skews toward polarized and not merged, or to put it into the language of the players at the table, I will have axkx, better, and maybe a little air here a lot when I do choose to bet.

However, that is an illusion. Four way, I will in fact have less axkx, because I will want to check raise this hand from my disadvantaged position. The deep stacked player on the button, who is my target, will be betting out all his kings and draws, and will never fold anything to a single raise with all those bbs to play for, meaning I can achieve the isolation on the flop that the preflop action failed to accomplish. Because I in fact don’t have top pair top kicker or the hands that I will balance it with, but a different portion of my range that does not want to continue in a reraised pot drawing near dead, I want a different strategy.

If I bet out into three players and have a polarized perceived range I will only be raised by hands I don’t mind folding to. However, against calling ranges on a flushing board, I can barrel with impunity, as all sets and two pairs will expose themselves. The one hand I worried about being outplayed by, Qx10x, I have a blocker to – I don’t expect to see it as much as the combined kings, jacks, and flush draws.

I want to force these hands to fold, but expecting them to to do it now is too hopeful. Nor do I want to check raise a gutter four way.

So I reverse my check-raising preference.

This is logical because now I can play bet/fold poker – the weakest of all winning strategies – in its best and native environment: with near useless hands, middling value, butt end straight draws and wanky overcards, saving better hands and better draws, hands that want and deserve special treatment, for better tactics.

(You know I love you, qhjh. I would never treat you like this. You’re the one for me.)

However, in order to accomplish all this I need one more item else to make sense: sizing. Normally I bet 1/3 pot or less in order to depolarize my holding and rep a wide range, whether it is the nut low, the nut middle (the donut) or the nut high.

What I am saying is I must be consistent in my logic – remember I want to be polarized in this spot. So now I put in what is a bomb on this flop, at least for me, $60.

Bingo – AxAx, AxKx repped on drawing board, and all contingencies accounted for.

What do I want to happen next? Besides everyone folding, of course, I can anticipate some reasonable counteractions to my bet:

100bb HJ to call would be fine. If he flats, the others will have to come out of the woodwork and raise their real equity or even fold. I will barrel off against HJ. He bombs his good draws and value, so I know how to handle a raise, too.

The button calling or raising me would also be fine – but preference is he gives up. We are 500 bbs effective and has position. Fortunately, he will be hard pressed to bluff when my hand looks like ace-king. I will be barreling off some runouts.

The blind calling, however, would be Bad News. He will have more draws for me to fade and will not fold as observed. Further, as he is inclined to slow play, I cannot simply bet into this fellow much, as that is his plan for me – remember what I said about players not putting 1+1 together? However, the upside is he is the only out of position player to me and will give me two free cards. Now we see the structure of the game coming together – his Donkey Chain overcall will back fire against me as he will never max out his equity if I play properly. Further, my gutter and backdoor spades will simply realize sometimes or the runout will allow me a questionable river bluff. Not ideal, but that’s life among us mortals.

What happens? Well, it’s door one, apparently. The “short stacked” 100 bb player calls from the high jack, and the others fold. Since my plan is to fire, we have to consider the pot size, as everything – the 7x open, the multiway action, the big cbet, has brought together a rising cost of doing business. Normally I’d have gotten what I want with a smaller cbet, but that was not the natural result of everything and that road made no sense.

No problem, but I have to deal with the consequences.

Meanwhile, the dealer drops a great card (isn’t that convenient for a hand history?): the 7d. Since I want this guy to not improve more than I need to improve, this is a dream card. I think a Q, J, 10, or 9 are all basically bad for me, and an A or K not really great either, being illusory bluff cards, as several hands fill. A 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 are all beautiful, but a 7 is especially sweet as I now have actual equity: double gutted in an almost impossible to see way.

Our pot size continues to be the problem and the solution at once. With 85 + 120 yielding 205 and high-jack having about that in his stack, it’s time to play for stacks. I put it all in.

In truth, I’d prefer this to be a very large bet. After all, the turn is the most natural overbetting spot in hold’em. I’d like the HJ to have 300 back and then I could pressure him off the most of the Kxs hands that have me in terrible shape, and drive him off any naked draws without trouble. This bet has to work 60% of the time work, which I think easily met and profitable given my assumptions. His jacks all fold, as he would have to call 300 to with 545. He’ll need to find correct calls about 37 percent of the time, meaning from his flop call range of KQ, K10, K9, K2-K8 suited, Jx, Q10, and six likely spade draws, if he will likely dump everything far too often – everything but the lucky K7, KQ – my bet works extraordinarily well.

So in this in game analysis, how did I do? How optimistic was I?

My EV=

(%hefolds.86)(205) + (%hecalls.14)(%wewin.19)(pot + bet 205+300) – (%hecalls.14)(%welose.81)(bet300)=


I have him. The Donkey Chainers behind him have helped create a big pot for me and I have an edge – my perceived range destroys the hands he ends up with. He can’t defend properly against this overbet, I decided in game, and the ridiculous fold equity I assign myself explains the high EV of this play. Hell, he can even hero fold the hands he needs to call with – which is a pretty sick parlay for me. The math of optimism, here, but also experience. (Looks like I forgot some removal here – all part of in game mistakes.)

Ok, ok, unfortunately, he doesn’t have 300 back – this great spot is a hypothetical. What he really has is just a little less than pot of 200. His calling frequency, back in reality, is easier. His defense should only needs to be about 33% of hands, unlike in my more ideal scenario, where he has to right over a third of the time and is in trouble because of his crappy range: he’ll have trouble knowing what to call with.

From his hands that reached the turn of KQ, K10, K9s, K8s, K7s, K5s, K4s, half the Axs, QJ and Q10 (69 combos), he can let go of most non-combo draws and all his many bad kings, and snap me off with KQ/K10/A7s and that damn K7- and still be making an error.

In this more realistic scenario I’ve still made a good play, squeezing money out of the Donkey Chainers with ten-high.


(%hefolds.66)(205) + (%hecalls.34)(%wewin.17)(pot + bet 205+200) – (%hecalls.34)(%welose.83)(bet200)=


So with the principle mostly the same, I put in the bet.

A big tank begins. It looks, at first, that I have run into a hand he feels he needs to defend: must be KQ, my natural fear.

However, he starts talking, and while I half convince him I have a hand, he’s still not done.

What is going on?

I tell him, “You have queen ten.”

“Queen ten I’d call in a heartbeat.”


We jabber a little more, and it turns out he has Ax10x and is considering heroing me!

He really thinks it might be good, and further, he’d really like to bink a jack and “put a beat on you.”

I hadn’t really considered that this hand was a part of his calling range.

More importantly, this might mean he was never folding any of those kings.

It looks like for all my surety – I was way, way off!

Can my line with nine-ten off be good at all against such a player? If he calls with all his kings – maybe that is a stretch –  I lose money on this proposition, as he has 38 kings total (corrected from in game estimate) and too few jacks and spades that might give up.

So what does reality turn out to tell us? Let’s say he gives up his range – and a new range at that – only 25% of the time– to explain his real time behavior, which is hard to predict. (I’m not sure if I can pull out weak kings or leave good jacks at this point, so while weighting ranges is a far better way to figure out poker, we’ll just brute force it.)

From AJs-ATs,KQs,KTs-K4s,QTs+,As8s,As7s,As6s,As5s,As4s,As3s,As2s,AJo-ATo,KQo,KTo,QTo+.

My EV=(%hefolds.25)(200) + (%hecalls.75)(%wewin.17)(pot + bet 205+205) – (%hecalls.75)(%welose.83)(bet225)= -$23.

Simply a massive swing in expectation from my initial thought. How did I go so wrong?

I’ll have time to reflect on that: the highjack regretfully throws away the hand.

Wrong but right, another win in a strong night.

Now, many will not like this, but I do turn over and show my cards. It takes my opponent a moment to even piece together what I have. Oh, you have a pair, of course, or, wait, what?

Must be something, making one-two into life and death, never playing hide and go seek, never having fun with the information at the very heart of the struggle. What’s worse for the game than “Mum Poker”? Dressing in a baseball cap, trying to be nobody, dodging questions like you’re in Witness Protection.

Too silly. I’m stirring things up as usual, triggering conversation, and creating complexity for myself and others to deal with down the road.

The game without a challenge is no game at all.

In fact, that – not what the nits and Tommy Angelo say – is poker.

Soon afterwards, I cashed out at the front desk – it’s one of those rooms so small it doesn’t even have a cage.

After only a couple weeks, I already like this place far more than I expected to. I like its employees. Even the bar and lounge area, with a total of two tables and eight seats, calls to me.

The local desperation brings me back to my teens and my stepfather – a strange memory that seems replaced by far more serious troubles. How I wondered about what dark and lugubrious places he got smashed at, dodging our troubled family and his own wayward destiny.

Small time is small time, though. To get that drink I want, I walk the “bartender” through the steps – she’s never really even made a proper cocktail before. It’s not really her fault, people come here to lose and drink Budweiser.

I can’t say it’s the best drink – who uses Crown Royal for their Rye? But it’s mine, and like my game, I can take full responsibility for all its strengths and weaknesses.

Speaking of, did my overall plan make sense, even down to the loose open I allow myself? One way to check, a new one, actually, is to look at some equity visualization software, in this case Doug Hull’s Flop Falcon. Now, I really need more control than FF gives me, and I’ll have to wait until Turn Turtle is released to look at the shove situation I have spent so much time describing, but I can still get a very different glimpse of my own strategy here.

Ten Nine

What is all this? Well, I’ve set up FF to look at a highly specific situation that most of you will never really plan for, in part because it just sounds so bad on the surface – barreling with a dominated draw into marginal made hands and draws. (Don’t try this at home, amici.) The software is going to point out just how poor my actual equity is – of course, I knew that – but there is something else: FF give me a visual hint of just how much fold equity I am going to need to make my racy, Pokersploitation lines work.

How useful will this turn out to be? I don’t know. I do almost everything by hand – even Flopzilla irritates me too much to use more than a few times a year.  (I would really need Hold’em EQ to work a lot better but it is both too primitive and ugly to look at.) Perhaps in future iterations there will be ways to build into Flop Falcon nodes that really serve what I want – that would be intriguing. While I have used the Solvers and they are amazing, once you understand their principles they are not liberating and in fact choke you with their answers. This messy piece of software that Doug has created seems much more suited to the creative person, because what the mind needs are basics and reasons and understanding – not bbs/action. Why trumps all.

I take a sip. On the other hand, maybe I know nothing, and simply need to learn to use software better.  With Equilab, my one, only, and favorite tool, no longer scaling properly on my beautiful laptop/tablet and so approaching unusable, I’ve been at near complete poker tech sea for months. My notebook, in turn, is overrun with notes and work. That might be for the best but I feel like something is missing.

Too much to think about, really, and I am already feeling the alcohol. I finish my cocktail. Well chosen, if imperfect and made of some strange stuff. Good enough for tonight – just like my line with ten-nine. Overall, I love my strategy, the way I play, and I think part of it is because I love being responsible for it. With right and wrong actions so wildly hard to differentiate sometimes, I’ll take a smooth, too sweet, but still smokey result any time.

Cheers to somebody.



Für Otto, seine Lohn


  1. Great stuff. Always enjoy a HH and some technical review. However, shouldn’t the pot size on the turn be 205 instead of 225. I thought the pot on the flop was 85, then you bet 60 and got called in one spot. So, 60+60+85=205, right?

  2. Question about the pot post-turn. I thought I saw a $60 bet with one call, but that doesn’t tie with 85+160=245. $80 bet?

    Love your writing and the strategies!

    1. I mean, the key aspects of the strat, for sure: Deciding to open, choosing my line and why, and evaluating my opponent(s) (wrongly, in the HJ’s case). It’s possible, further, that he calls down with all his kings, as crazy as that sounds, and that the EV of my turn shove is even worse than I have calculated. Buyer beware.


  3. I think to simplify this in my mind (is this generally correct?): With players that tend to call too often pre-flop, post-flop multi barrel bluffs are much more likely to work since they get to the turn and river with too many weak made hands and draws. Also, when they are at or near the top of their ranges, they will often split them into (strong=raise, weak=call or fold) and let you know what they have early in the hand.

  4. “Must be something, making one-two into life and death, never playing hide and go seek, never having fun with the information at the very heart of the struggle. What’s worse for the game than “Mum Poker”? Dressing in a baseball cap, trying to be nobody, dodging questions like you’re in Witness Protection.”

    Love this and completely agree with the sentiment. Having fun at the table and enjoying the social side of the game is an aspect that’s been evolving for me recently.

    I enjoy Tommy’s writing but having thought about it some more, coinciding with the above, I can’t agree with some of his practices. I think they were designed specifically to help him stop tilting. But trying to apply them as dogma, as if mum poker is the one true path, is misguided. (And unnecessary if one doesn’t suffer the same tilt issues.)

    And even if mum poker is good for oneself, what about the good of the game (as you mention)? What becomes of a social game if all of its participants decide to remain mum?

  5. Almost forgot to come back to this: “In truth, I’d prefer this to be a very large bet. After all, the turn is the most natural overbetting spot in hold’em.”

    From what I understand about theory, I think that the river is most natural for an overbet. It should be when ranges are both most polarized and most capped. So, is there an exploitative reason that you think the turn is more natural than the river? (Maybe the additional equity denial vs. villain’s draws.) Or am I missing something?

  6. Yeah, if your strat involves equity denial it’s too late on the river and a theoretically balanced overbet is not that hard to combat- that’s one of the reasons they always start there with calling decision examples. No one ever talks about calling turn big bets because the equities are trickier and exposes bluffcatching/non-flop threebetting lines/non good checking or non donking strats as unmanageable, nor about the mahatma shoving flop strategy, which i guess is even less “natural.” Maybe i should have said “natural to me.”

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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.