behavior

Poker and Conscience

Recently a friend of mine sent me a photo he had taken of poker’s favorite villain. “I didn’t say hi,” he mentioned.

No, it wasn’t Phil Hellmuth.

Chris Ferguson is who I am talking about. Now smiles fade. The former owner, together with Howard Lederer, of Full Tilt Poker, not the most popular and prestigious site – an acclaim once clearly held by the now adulterated Pokerstars – has returned, again, to the World Series. Full Tilt has a special place in poker history, having been home to not only amusing, quality software, but more importantly, is still a significant sentimental favorite of poker’s finest years. Easy low stakes money isn’t everything people miss, after all. The great battles that took place in Rail Heaven not only astonished and entertained, they inspired a whole generation of players to pursue glory on the virtual and real felt. Everyone wanted to see the avatars of Dwan, Ivey, Antonius, Galfond, Blom, South, and many more names than I can remember or even know, trade body blows and fortunes.

Dreams were born.

As part of a sweeping fraud and money laundering investigation, Ferguson’s Full Tilt was shut down: Black Friday, 2011. That was just the beginning. With player accounts frozen or revealed to be lost across the major sites, a storm of revelations and accusations followed. Mismanagement. Incompetence. Dishonesty. Crime.

Dreams died.

It therefore is something of a wonder for many players that Ferguson somehow now sits at World Series tables, that famous head and hat still, if not high. Frustrated and wounded by the seizure of their funds and the news that their accounts had been abused in near Ponzi scheme fashion, outrage has never left the poker world. Threats against his personal safety, while lacking follow-through, have been common, and confrontations have certainly occurred.

This encounter from last year is particularly telling. Andrew Brokos, noted poker writer and podcaster, was thunderstruck to find Mr. Ferguson at his table. After some surprisingly light banter between Ferguson and a player at the table, Brokos came out of his shock:

That was the final straw, but it was also the icebreaker I needed. “I don’t agree with that, for what it’s worth,” I declared to the table at large. “Anyone else here have money on Full Tilt Poker?”

No one responded. I didn’t know whether the answer was no, or whether I was just speaking so agitatedly that they couldn’t understand me. I locked eyes with the guy who looked most like a former online player. “Did you have money on Full Tilt?”

He removed his headphones. I asked him again. “No,” he told me. I could feel my face reddening. Ferguson still hadn’t said anything, but I certainly had his attention.

“I had $60,000 locked up for over two years,” I said.

“And did you get it back?” Ferguson asked me, as though that would make everything OK.

It is not hard to sympathize with all those who lost money, time, and toil because of the Full Tilt mismanagement. Yes, we all take risks, and depositing funds on an online poker site isn’t the wisest investment. Players should know and accept this; certainly many do now in the post-Black Friday era and are far more scrupulous and communicative in their research and choices. After all, they are loading the account in order to duel in an indifferently regulated sector of the marketplace, one with a small onus of depravity and a larger stigma of non-productivity.

Poker dreams are dicey.

I wonder about their attitude toward Ferguson, though. Live poker is the great, equalizing social meeting ground for so many. We want, like the players online, to take each other’s money, but at the physical table we feel even more of the instinctive, human social pull toward each other – this is why all the cruelest words in poker happen in chat boxes. All end up being welcome and a spirit of healthy competition emerges on a regular basis. I wonder, for instance, how many murderers and rapists and con artists I’ve taken money from or lost to. Yet we easily welcome these parasites to our table, and it’s not all about their wallets. There is something else going on.

I worked at a church for a long time, and among other things, I noticed that as spat upon as many believers are in our secular and pragmatic culture, the temple of God is a daily beacon to all the lost and wayward. I would look out from the balcony behind the baldacchino and see all kinds of sufferers and confused people, from dusk until dawn, appearing and reappearing. They were in need of something that was not being given to them. Not the shallow solidarity of identity groups and interests and agendas and entitlements, but the solidarity of the conscience, where many lives’ trajectories are truly at stake in a profoundly personal way: the need for meaning when the next step seems impossible. They needed to know somewhere, something, somehow, is looking out after them, even if they cannot look after themselves or meet their given challenges alone.

Our tables are open and (mostly) fair, too. All those murderers and rapists and con artists are never barred from play, just as they would not be barred from the church. There would be an unseemliness in proscribing our worst and lowest because we intuitively understand the nature of the institution, temple or game. We poker players so easily overlook the wayward among us and give them their manly right to compete and be a part of the great enterprise. After all, should the WSOP ban Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer, what next? Who are now good enough to play at the poker table? And who is good enough to decide?

The dream of a just society protects us by protecting them.

Well, in fact, if the Committee for Purity in Poker is founded they might ban me, too. I’ve hurt and disappointed so many people, affected their lives, including my own, in ways I regret, that if we are starting to make exclusions, then I might have to sign myself up before the commissars find me. (Isn’t it outrageous how the police push the arrestee’s head down into the vehicle? A truly redundant indignity.) Now that means many, many will be sent away with me – both worse and better individuals lost to our community game.

However, it’s never really an issue, is it? No one wants to ban me. Why, the first thing an incarcerated man I know experienced was his welcome back to the tables. And that’s just someone whose story was known. The rest we quietly fold into our game.

Just like the sufferers in the pews dreaming of peace.

The issue with Chris Ferguson is that he isn’t some random sinner: he has appeared to sin against us. Now our response is indeed different. The community of players can let many, many things go as long as others are the victims, but when many of us are hurt, now we take great offense and umbrage.

I’m in no position to know the full details of the Full Tilt debacle. What did the president know and when did he know it is beyond me in this case. But I find something very interesting in Ferguson’s return to the Series.

“That was $60,000 I couldn’t access for two years. No interest.”

“Sorry about that. But you got it back?”

Finally, someone else chimed in. “I had over $9000 in bonuses that I never received,” he said.

“But you got the balance back?” Chris asked.

“No,” I interrupted. “You asked whether we got paid back. The answer is, we got some of what we were owed.”

We just stared at each other for a few seconds after that. There was nothing more to say. I sat back down. My hands were still shaking, and my face was burning, but it was a relief to say something to him.

I want to look into Ferguson’s words. He issues an apology – eager to be sure of the limits of harm caused – for a financial inconvenience Brokos suffered, but it’s not what the blogger and coach wants. What he thinks would soothe him is a public confession – a full disclosure of guilt and acceptance of penitence – yet this is where Ferguson fails him.

A few orbits later, he jammed 6BBs UTG, and I was in middle position with ATo. This, I decided, was a call. Not a spite call, just a good call. I called.

The Ace came right on the flop, and it was still good on the river. I’d busted Chris Ferguson. He tapped the table, looked me in the eye, and nodded at me. “Good luck.”

Here is what I find most fascinating. Ferguson cannot apologize the way Brokos and so, so many, want him to. However, I see in his behavior a man in conflict. His dignity, pride, and well being have been likely shattered by his great fall, guilty or innocent or somewhere in between. It took a lot of time for Ferguson to come back to the game he loves – to a demi-hallowed convention space where every May someone must attach a giant poster of his finest hour to the rafters of idols. His behavior here with Brokos, similar to what I have heard recounted elsewhere, is his compromise. I can see this whether he is guilty of all accusations or not, because he would have protested his innocence or fallen on his sword if he had made a full commitment to explaining himself.

fergusonBut this nod at Andrew and his deliberate tapping of the table speak volumes. He is trapped by himself and may never be able to come out of the situation. It is possibly too much to explain, too much to admit. Perhaps his world would fall apart and he is hedging disaster. His anxiousness to affirm that Brokos and others got their money back is all he can share, and his politeness is all he can offer.

For most, it’s not enough. I understand. We want restitution and to be made whole. But this will never happen. The time lost and the money held and its consequences can never be returned. If we are strong and honest, we can look at this fact directly. But if we are that strong, we can also see that this man put himself in a hard place. Things will never be the same for him, and that may or may not be just. And if he is holding onto guilt, he will suffer the living hell of having lost his integral self, one that is only repaired through contrition.

However, since he is trapped in this state, there is one thing we can do for him and for ourselves: Consider forgiving him.

I won’t need to argue the pragmatic effects of this. Our growing human wisdom knows and has probably proven in the field of psychology that this is ultimately better for the victim. After all, in many cases, it is not – the thirst for justice can be a natural and healthy response to an affront of grave consequence and no other remedy.

However, time has passed, the machinations of the law creaked along in our favor, and what we get from Ferguson is this: a tap on the table. A look straight in the eyes. Acknowledgment in place of apology. The mouth that opens to speak one word but speaks another.

If we are strong enough, perhaps, we can decide this can be enough. If we consider forgiving him, even slightly, the weight of his affront may loosen enough for him to give Brokos and all the Broki out there what they truly want to hear: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

Forgiveness is misunderstood. Forgiving someone does not mean you must slap them on the back and tell them everything is the same again. Nor is the nature of every type of forgiveness equal. Forgiveness is the acknowledgment of our human weakness and an extension of just a little grace on its account. The same people who can let the Full Tilt fiasco go can be the same people who never speak to him again.

It is as hard to do right by our fellow man as it is to ourselves, as we are never as meticulous as we should be. I worry that my poker students are getting what they need from me, and occasionally some attempt to take too much. Yet I will tell you that as pleased as I am at their successes, the one coaching job I am truly proud of had nothing to do with sick graphs and texts of chip porn and ambitious bootcamps. When I was first coaching, I was contacted by a fellow from deep in the south in a small town I’d never heard of. His story disturbed me, as he was somehow supporting his family on a $4,000 bankroll, playing 2/5 under the thumb of a mysterious staker who was also the biggest winner in his area’s only casino. He’d lost a great deal of money recently and was desperate for help. I suggested he look for other work but his passion for the game was undeniable: I understood this need, as I was in the grip of it myself, and so we were both determined to make it in poker. I took him on scholarship, as I couldn’t charge any amount that made any sense for his straitened circumstances.

However, whatever knowledge I tried to impart, it simply would not take. I’d talk concepts, he’d talk Ace Queen. His results were bad. We’d have long Skype conversations that seemed to solidify one idea but cloud the last. As his roll diminished we had to get deadly serious. I started parceling out his buy-ins and instituted a short stack strategy: catastrophe. I wanted to save his career and life but nothing worked. Then, the truth came out. He showed me the transcript of another coach’s assistance. I could read the exasperation and need to be done with the conversation in this coach’s chat. I saw that my scholarship student was a serial free coaching seeker, a kind of problem studied player. In the end, I urged him to listen to all the advice given to him, but also to take a job, if only to not have to spend the last of his money. I stopped responding to him, and the chat soon stopped.

Months later, dread. His name popped up on my Skype screen. Was it all starting again? This time I’d have to pass. However, good news: he was in a great mood, and just wanted to let me know he’d finally taken my best coaching advice – he had started as a delivery truck driver and given up the tables. He’d gotten in touch to thank me.

God, as the greatest of all literary mystics said – one hidden from us by abridged translations and cultural misunderstandings – is conscience. Therefore if our consciences are clear, we are strong. We can afford what Mr. Ferguson might not be able to spend: to look beyond ourselves, and so see, under the hat and sunglasses, the struggle that we all share.

It is striking that no one ends up punching or harming these villains in poker. A lot of talk, for sure, and easy talk, too: no one is more lionhearted than a forum poster. But life itself is not an argument: there are real boundaries that we instinctively do not cross because our conscience holds us back. It might have been braver, indeed, had someone risked injury and illegality in punishing him. Yet this will not happen – this kind of bravery is foolhardy and all those who consider it know this in their hearts. That is why he can walk into the series and play.

But this is interesting, because it means we are compromising – just like he is. We are sitting on our hands, waiting, waiting for him to do something, just as he is sitting on his hands, waiting for something to break his way.

We can do better, because we can be even braver than violence or retribution:

We can decide to go further than he is capable of, and offer him some small forgiveness, opening the door just a little. And when we do, I think you’ll find that we might finally hear what Andrew and everyone like him, shaking and flushed and confused and indignant and angry, has dreamed of hearing for too long.

 

No One Nose

7 Comments

  1. we should include each other in our blog rolls, not sure if u have a blog roll for others blogs though.

    its easy for most to not care much about Ferguson, but for those with only $500-1000 to their name and $5000-50,000 of their money tied up on FTP with no other income, i imagine it would be very hard. some of them may have lived on the streets for some time. it would take a miracle of the love of Jesus to forgive them, they couldnt do it on their own power.

    1. Thanks Tony. While i do not have a blog roll, i do have links to friends and other such sites under the menu icon, and will add yours. I’d be honored if you added mine. GL.

  2. Comment:

    I read your excellent well-written piece about Chris Ferguson. I have seen him once, and your picture and comments affirm what I saw; he remains clearly visible as Chris Ferguson. The hat, the black clothes, The long hair and the beard. I would bet 95% of the people who saw him at the WSOP knew who he was, and at least some of his history.
    (Disclaimer: I never played on-line; was not injured in the fraud.)

    It struck me that he appears “in uniform” to be clearly identifable so that people will see him and most in that setting will know who he is, thus opening himself up to identification, and even confrontation. Sooner or later, someone is going to strike out at him physically, I would guess.

    He does not remove all the black clothes and tell-tale features, while showing up in a Hawaiian shirt, Bermuda shorts, and a baseball hat, on backwards. He makes no attempt at concealment. Quite the contrary. And I wonder if this is not the closest he is able to come to atoning; opening himself up to identification and hatred.

    I don’t think forgiveness is on the table. I think maybe “Let it go,” might be be more useful advice for most people. Don’t forget it, but it’s over; let it go. That is not to recommend cordiality with those guys, him, Lederer, and the others, but rather ceasing to waste energy on hating them.

    The most significant sins in this case were not against the players (and I am certainly not minimizing or denying that those WERE grievous sins.). The most significant sins were against the GAME. They injured our game. They burned down our church.

    A trivial similarity comes to mind, which is baseball. Pete Rose is probably not widely hated now, if he ever was. But he will never be in the Hall of Fame because he sinned against the game. The same for Mark McGuire and some other homerun hitters who were pumped up on anabolic steroids. The GAME is punishing them for their sins, which were against the Game, itself. They will not be in the Hall, either. Poker doesn’t have that kind of structure, so it doesn’t seem to have the ability to do similar.

    My question about Ferguson is “Why.” Why does he keep exposing and identifying himself this way? And atonement is the only explanation I can come up with.

    Of course I didn’t play on FT; lost no money. But what I feel for him is not anger, it’s pity. And pity can be a more forceful blow than a punch in the face.

    BC

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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.