Gargamel guest post

Gargamel’s Travels: “Didn’t Come Here To Chop”

(Special post from Gargamel himself – P.)

Much of my disposable income goes to food and travel, but I prefer having a good time with other people’s money. On the outset of my vacation, I looked down at my boarding pass. It was labeled “TSAprecheck,” which was great since I didn’t pay for the status: running hot from the start. My girlfriend and I were headed for Europe and she previously paid for the designation for herself, yet it had showed up on my ticket as well. TSA pre check allows you to be in a shorter security line and not have to strip down and pull out laptops and liquids. I’ll never go back to the old method.

Time for poker.
Time for poker.

There would be a few opportunities to play poker on this trip, which was also great because I have tended to crush whenever I’ve been out of town.  My first stop was Barcelona and the Gran Casino. It’s located in the beachfront neighborhood of Barceloneta, with plenty of restaurants and clubs nearby. I arrived at the poker room on a Saturday night after 9 pm. I sat at 3/6 NL, which was the biggest holdem game running.

Our table was short handed and featured an aggro donk who twice triple barreled in bad spots. Due to game flow and image, he should’ve had value the second time around. We were bound to play a good pot together.

Later he opened to 20, got called, then I 3b to 80 with TT. He called, presumably to “outplay” me and take the pot away, like so many forum brainiacs. The flop came down 957cc. I bet 125 into 180 and he predictably made it 310. I shoved after some thought and he snap folded, which was refreshing since the rare time I get folds back home, they’re usually accompanied by what I like to call “prolonged constipation face.”

Classy Chips
Classy Chips

After amassing around 1200 euro profit and coloring up to 500 euro plaques, I decided to move to 1/2 dealers choice, which was in fact always 1/2 PLO. The 3rd hand I was dealt was AA4x with one suit. I got it all in pre against QJT8 or something and my opponent asked how many times I wanted to run it. I lifted one finger to indicate I wasn’t there to chop. My AA held against his flopped wrap and he took off. Soon after I raised QQ67 on the button and I flopped an open ender in a 4 way pot. I continued for 30 into 48 and got called in two spots with at least one of them likely having a spade draw. The turn gave me top set, but brought the flush. However, they checked to me and I took the free card. Thanks fellas! The river paired the board and my value bet got paid.

Next up was Monte Carlo and the greater French Riviera. We started with lunch in Nice, consisting of Chateaubriand for 2, flambeed in cognac table side. Poker in Nice (at least at Casino Ruhl) does not get rolling until around 9 pm so it was off to Cannes and Casino Barriere.

Le poker.
Le poker.

I arrived around 4 pm and there was a single 5/10 NL game going and a 5/5 PLO would soon follow. Between the wealth of the area and 5/10 being the entry level game, I had money on my mind and a gleam in my eye. Unfortunately I only slept one hour the night before and was not sharp. In a key hand, a player open limped, I raised 33 to 50, got called in two places then the guy in the blinds shoved his 265 for the third time in recent memory. I shoved as well, but didn’t notice that one of the field callers only had 300 and he called it off. The flop came down A22 and I figured one of them could have some crap like A7. Turn 6, and RIVER 3. I wanted to say “I love this game” in French.

Almost no English was spoken at the table with the exception of the fish

Eat your heart out, Smurfs.
Eat your heart out, Smurfs.

saying “one time” after yet another limp call. A player was thrown out after going off on his opponent who called with a gutshot, went runner runner flush and cracked top two. With a solid win in the books, it was time for a $200 taxi back to Monte Carlo because winners don’t have to wait around for trains.

Another villain on billboard.
Fellow villain on billboard outside Hippodrome.

Finally, we arrived in London for Valentines Day. We had dinner at Zuma, which included langoustine tempura and fatty tuna sashimi. The night was not over, however, and what could be more romantic than another winning session?

Safety instructions.
Safety instructions.

Our evening took us to the Hippodrome Casino. I think Persuadeo would enjoy its theatre-like design.I sat in the only game running, which was 1/2 NL 400 cap. It wasn’t long before I overlimped 98hh on the button and flopped a straight flush on JhTh7h. An old guy led into the five way field for half pot and I called. The turn was the 7d. He checked, I bet half pot and he folded. I flipped up my hand in case any high hand promotions were running.

Another player said I should’ve checked the turn. I said “I shouldn’t even be saying this, but I’m not from this country. When I flop a straight flush, I do not want to play a kid’s pot on the river. If he doesn’t have anything to pay me off, so be it”.

Silence ensued for a minute. Eventually, another player said he played a big pot of 800 pounds when he hit a straight flush. I told him my last straight flush netted me 61k. I won just about 100 bbs on this night, but even better, my girlfriend put a few bad beats on the slot machines and booked a four figure win.

Nice work if you can get it.
Nice work if you can get it.

Our return trip was on international business class with complementary use of the British Airways airport lounge at London Heathrow. I don’t drink much, but the free (and seemingly unlimited), self-serve top shelf liquor was pretty amazing. This is how to travel.

Where should I go next? Perhaps I’ll have to take on Macau.




  1. Let’s be real. I run HOT when out of town, or at least not badly. Beyond that, playing poker when traveling forces you to focus since everyone is an unknown and there’s extra adrenaline due to new surroundings. Back home, it’s easy to get lulled into autopilot with the same regs in the same rooms.

    The general advice of having a value injected range still applies, unless proven otherwise by table dynamics. I have far more stories of people making ridiculous calls than folds.

  2. Few additional comments:

    1) “TSA Precheck” became his mantra for the entire trip. This line was stated in a voice somewhere in between Eric Cartman’s beloved “Respect My Authoritah!” and Jesse Pinkman’s “BITCHES!”. It was utilized in such instances as: cab lines, waiting in line for the London Eye (I had purchased a FastPass), not immediately obtaining tickets to The Leaning Tower of Pisa, and anything involving obtaining food or coffee.

    2) The Monte Carlo Casino had all the allure and mystery of Al Capone’s vaults… and the same reality. It was an opulent ghost town. As a slot player, I was quite disappointed that these were the exact same slots found at any dive on the Vegas strip. As an occasional table game player, I was sadden to find one barely-functioning blackjack game in the back.

    3) Persuadeo, as far as the flight portion of this trip is concerned, I recommend your readers find an incredibly tolerant other half who travels a lot for work and racks up enough miles that she doesn’t notice you booked business class on the way back…

  3. You’re right, Village Kelda. I do need a trip happy sugar momma who requires the soothing companionship that only a poker player can truly provide.

    And by the way, Slot play is as under-reported as it is popular… feel free to drop in with exciting stories from your strange world on the other side of the casino.

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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.