reviews

Poker Blog Roll, part VIII

While I rouse myself from the doldrums, I will tie up some loose ends. Here’s a review I promised:

17.

http://cardplayerlifestyle.com/

Robbie Strazynski appears to be a big fellow with a giant face, giant body, and giant white teeth. He probably wears those stretchy polo shirts because he’d rip a standard dress shirt just living his life; he looks very goal-driven, as if he does pushups randomly throughout the day and lifts children over his head between tapping out titles.  Maybe it’s just the bloom of the East Mediterranean sun or a just good camera angle. In any case, what is more certain is that he has the energy of multiple poker players (I guess that’s not much of a benchmark), and on top of everything else, should probably hire himself out as life coach to TBC and other earnest gambling fellows who find themselves wandering well off the straight and narrow. We can guess at all this because Robbie manages Card Player Lifestyle, an ambitious poker newsite-cum-blog.

Actually, let’s get that part out of the way, since it’s relevant here and relevant to the recent effort (actually it’s just an update, which explains a lot and the comments that are a year old) by Your Hand Sucks to catalog all the poker blogs they could find with one Google search. Listen carefully: some blogs are not blogs. A Web Log, origin of the clumsy word we now are stuck with thanks to people who think shortening and mashing together words is neat, is more or less a personal online diary in all its varieties or a continued reflection on a specialty, issue, or problem by one or more authors. People generally say the opposite of what they mean, and Robbie’s site as advertised is no exception. The blue badge on Cardplayer Lifestyle advertises “Poker Blog,” but this is in the same vein as McDonald’s calling itself a Family Restaurant. CL is so much more than a blog, and the fine print (never skip it) at the page bottom verifies this and its founder’s true aims.

In fact, one man construction crew Robbie takes everything on at Cardplayer Lifestyle. He editorializes, interviews, reports, and collates, all for the mission of serving as “the go-to news and information resource for recreational poker players and fans.” He has some favorite notes to hit, however, and is especially focused on the online industry, likely a strategic choice for both global appeal, his physical distance from the center of the games, and advertising potential for his site. Interestingly, he is not alone in this attempt to create a comprehensive poker newsite without apparent corporate investment (consider pokergurublog.com, among others) but this one’s scale and longevity is impressive and one of its strengths. He seems to be seizing on the Global Poker League as a stalking horse for poker growth. Cardplayer Lifestyle has another distinct advantage, aside from its founder’s work ethic: being associated with the Top Pair Podcast, which lends the site a heavy dose of audio while distinctively lifting it out of pure blogging territory.

Whatever this type of hybrid site should be called, Strazynski’s is less personal than a web diary (some articles, such as his thoughtful Passover Poker reflection, are exceptions, although he spends a 9/11 reflecting modestly on his business model; we are always most sensitive to ourselves): the bells and whistles give this away without much examination required. The unevenly stacked social media icons make me nervous. The stylized pixilation around certain items is busy. All the headlines (so large and so long) and smiling faces and color blocks and different headers and their sizes render me unable to settle on where to go. I don’t think this is mere kibitzing, because the internet is a visual as much as a textual medium. Perhaps eyes more calloused to zippy attention-catching tricks have no issue and plow in without hesitation.

Nevertheless, what, ultimately, is the theme of Cardplayer Lifestyle? What does it purport to be, and (as we are more interested in, here at OOP), what is it really? Why has it not been gobbled up by a poker magazine or some media front needing the fusillade of content that drives advertising click-throughs and the soft-serve info economy? How can Robbie be so stubborn and have pulled this off without a nervous breakdown over seven years?

To find the answer, we must first reflect upon the site’s title and bifurcation in purpose. Poker is a competition and a battle and an endless, often lonely challenge, so away from the felt, many players, whether they know it or not, want some blend of calm excellence, thoughtfulness, stories, conversation, and a little bit of fun; a sort of helpful respite. CL takes a different tack, preferring the subtext of Promotion and Energy. This probably derives from its founder’s industry background and the instinct to cajole and attract: it is this that Robbie offers to the recreational player he mentions in his mission statement. Perhaps so, but the definition of a recreational player is broad, and my first impression is that there is too little of the much desired, down to earth, yet plainly titled Lifestyle in the formatting and editorial direction of Cardplayer Lifestyle, whose presentation is all activity and buzz. Compare this site’s clothing to a visual and textual oasis for poker players, thinkingpoker.net, where you want to find the Easter eggs and you feel like you are in the company of your fellows- that is “lifestyle” in action. Cardplayer Lifestyle makes us wonder who wants what?

I myself am impressed by the amount of content effusive Robbie and staff create – content is diverse, from the latest industry stuff to where are they now pieces (always fun) to encouraging charity – but I initially had a very hard time being persuaded to read on; we see which who I am. Maybe this is natural, or maybe this is a pity, because Robbie (man of many hats), underneath the framework of his creation and plans, is a writer and communicates his ideas easily. I can and do enjoy his pieces best outside his site. Here is a good example: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-case-for-legal-regulated-kosher-poker-in-israel/

Sticking with CardPlayer Lifestyle, the strongest elements of his content are all the interviews, both audio and text. Here the name of his site definitely lives up to its promise and theme; it’s here that I found my way forward into the content. The poker life is addressed in a pleasing and comfortable way. Its characters highlighted. Conversation and fun shared. His latest, with a tax attorney, is timely. The Bardah interview came off as true and unforced; I learned something about a real minor character in the poker world that I would not anywhere else. In a video, Robbie asks a clever metaquestion of Negreanu and we get something new out of our time with him. (If he were to reach out to less celebrities and more actual rec players, he would keep to his stated theme better, of course.) Robbie even provides transcripts out of radio shows out of professional pride and thoroughness; he is no hack and this easily overlooked nicety marks him for potential content greatness. CL, Robbie, and Top Pair do interviews really well.

Robbie and staff cover a multiplicity of topics in its poker news category, and you are unlikely to miss anything of significance if you could only use CL for your poker headlines. Formatting, not quantity, is a bugaboo: the lack of headlines per page here and elsewhere is troublesome because there is no way to scan all the potential information and you must click on each page, leaving the impression there is less content than actually is published. Poker Events is a dead category and takes up header space, even though it could be a very useful one as much of poker is in fact organized around events. We see how back end problems create home page ones, no matter how good our content might be.

In the same vein, the voluminous Poker Tips and Strategy is a catchall for everything from city reviews to bankroll principles to humor pieces to opinions on what’s verboten to talk about at the table. Here Robbie has thrown significant effort and a number of writers on the case. There are good pieces under this rubric. On the other hand, many of these extremely short, factoid-oriented buckshots give Cardplayer Lifestyle little differentiation from clickbait sites such as Pokerlistings. It’s individuality that often brings loyalty, so as an alternative, I’d like to see Robbie pursue journalistic excellence and let the paid-by-the-worders and interns handle such trivialities if he needs to keep up a publication rate or if he truly feels these fluffers bring hard value to the set.

So then, to answer our original question, what is the true theme of Cardplayer Lifestyle? What got Robbie through the seven year itch of one devotion? It’s the spirit of the fan, the nerd. The poker nerd. (We even hear it in his voice.) The lover of the game lavishing his attention and desiring to be the object of its attention. It’s not Lifestyle Robbie really offers us, it’s Enthusiasm. However, Robbie is not so secretly ambitious and will not be entirely satisfied with his present rate of rec players tickled by his work; this is hinted at in his otherwise unnecessarily humble and self-restraining business plan reflection..

Cheers to that. Perhaps, too, in our ADHD, socially mediated, flashbang wikiculture, I am underestimating the demand for the double shotgun approach and the desire to be a part of it. Robby S. has created and continues to build his own hub of poker information, which is a feat to be praised and recognized. His site and its hard-earned audience are a tribute to his devotion to the game’s community and his sense of professionalism. It is a marvel that even after seven years, Cardplayer Lifestyle’s best platonic form is still ahead of it, has a fighting chance to keep up with the changing nature of our game, and that I can say this because I think Robbie, more than most, has demonstrated that he has the capacity, love, and will for new and great things.

Posting Frequency: Top Notch

Design: Aggro

Writing quality: Varies by writer

Overall rating:  AJs

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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.