» General A Heads Up Poker Strategy Blog Wed, 08 Sep 2010 02:39:35 +0000 en hourly 1 The History Behind 7 Popular Poker Terms /2010/08/the-history-behind-7-popular-poker-terms/ /2010/08/the-history-behind-7-popular-poker-terms/#comments Sun, 22 Aug 2010 21:43:58 +0000 Gugel /?p=827 You probably use these 7 poker terms all the time. The origin and history of these words is actually pretty funny…

The Nuts

To have the best possible hand.

There are two possibilities about how this term originated.

  1. Back in Old West, players could wager almost anything they had at a poker game. That included the nuts that held their wagon wheels in place. Without the wagon wheel nuts, the player would be stranded and might die.
    To the others at the table, it would seem that a player would only make such a bet with an unbeatable hand. Since many games were played indoors in the winter time, the wagon wheel nuts were often very cold and were sometimes referred to as the “stone cold nuts”.
  2. “Nuts” in Old English means “a source of pleasure”.


To play a ton of poker. Usually this involves mass-multitabling in games that are typically below your skill level.

Originally, “grinding” referred to using a hand mill to grind grain. You would basically be spinning a wheel and make a couple of bags of flour by the end of the day. It was an extremely boring and tedious job.

Fast forward to the 20th century and the definition of grinding began to take on a much broader meaning. People started to call almost any job “the daily grind”.

In the 21st century, grinding started to be used in videogames. In World of Warcraft, people would spend countless mind-numbing hours to kill weak enemies and level up.


To lose your entire bankroll.

In blackjack, the goal is get as close to 21 as possible. If you go over, you “bust” and automatically lose the hand.


To win lots of money in a short period of time.

There are two possibilities about how this term originated.

  1. Cuban Robusto cigars are around $250 each. If you go on a good run, you might open a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne and whip out a Cuban Robusto.
  2. Robust is defined as “exhibiting vigor, strength or firmness”. Robusto works as a funny-sounding antonym of busto and the definition fits.


A successful high-stakes poker player that is flashy with his money and makes insane prop bets.

Originally, a baller referred to someone that’s very successful in basketball. Now, it can refer to almost anyone that’s rich and flaunts their wealth.


Playing sub-optimally due to emotional distress.

Pinball started to become popular in the 1930’s. Early machines had a serious flaw – players could lift up a corner of the machine and be guaranteed not to lose. By the 1950’s pinball machines started to penalize players that tilted the machines by making them lose a turn. Some players continued to tilt, kick and punch the machine out of frustration even though it lowered their score.

Texas Hold’Em

A game that started in the South or Southwest United States in the early 1960’s.

It was originally called “Hold Me Darling”, “Tennessee Hold Me” and “Texas Hold’Em”. Predictably, “Texas Hold’Em” is the name that stuck.


Originally from the German word “pochen” which means to “to brag as a bluff”. The literal translation is “to knock” (that’s why you knock on the table to check). The earliest version of poker in English was called “brag”.

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3 Crazy Conspiracy Theories About the UIGEA /2010/05/3-crazy-conspiracy-theories-about-the-uigea/ /2010/05/3-crazy-conspiracy-theories-about-the-uigea/#comments Wed, 05 May 2010 04:35:01 +0000 Gugel /?p=789
Poker Conspiracy Theories

Poker Conspiracy Theories - Put on Your Tin Foil Hats

The UIGEA was passed in 2006 and made it harder for U.S. players to deposit money on poker sites.  But how and why was it pushed through Congress so quickly (and sneakily)?  Put on your tin foil hats – here are 3 crazy conspiracy theories.

Conspiracy Theory #1: U.S. based casinos pushed through the UIGEA legislation.

Consider these facts:

Harrah’s wanted to push out international competitors.  It would be too hard dislodging PartyPoker, PokerStars and FullTilt from their dominant positions.  Harrah’s figured the UIGEA would be repealed in a year and two and that would give them enough time to develop their software.    Unfortunately, they miscalculated and the legislation is lasting far longer than they anticipated.

Conspiracy Theory #2: Credit card companies pushed through UIGEA.

Back in the day, you could send money via FTP or Stars to buy PokerTracker.  Transferring money via poker rooms provided a way for consumers to bypass credit card fees.  The credit card companies were worried that peer-to-peer transfers would catch on for regular consumers.  Anyone could pay for anything without any fees (and kill their profits)!  Even if the chances are small that P2P money transfers would take off, the potential consequences for credit cards are enormous.  Therefore, pushing through UIGEA might have been a +EV move.

The credit card industry is worth hundreds of billions of dollars.  They definitely have the resources and connections to get it done.

Conspiracy Theory #3: The UIGEA was pushed through to stop money laundering.

Let’s say you want to transfer your friend $10,000.  If you give him a check, that automatically triggers your bank to send an alert to the U.S. government.

But now, let’s say you transfer $10,000 to your friend on Full Tilt.  The U.S. government has no idea that happened.  The only way it would know is if you reported it on your tax returns.  Guess what?  Criminal enterprises aren’t gonna be honest on their tax returns.  There’s only a tiny, tiny percentage of people that are using poker rooms for money laundering or other illegal purposes, but unfortunately, that tiny percentage is enough to ruin it for everyone else.  The U.S. government doesn’t wanna give criminal enterprises free reign.  The UIGEA was passed to stop money laundering.


These conspiracy theories may be a little far-fetched, but they’re definitely thought-provoking :)

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Exclusive Sneak Peak at PokerTableRatings Premium /2010/04/exclusive-sneak-peak-at-pokertableratings-premium/ /2010/04/exclusive-sneak-peak-at-pokertableratings-premium/#comments Mon, 26 Apr 2010 21:04:02 +0000 Gugel /?p=704 My friends over at gave me an exclusive sneak peak at the new PTR Premium section.  To take this bad boy for a test drive, I looked up some stats for Isildur1.

General Tab
So the first part of the Premium section is the “General” tab.  You get to see some of the data that’s available to all users — total number of hands, bottom line, their winrate, etc.  Premium-only stats like VPIP, PFR, and Aggression Frequency are here too.  The chart on the right compares Isildur’s stats to Top Winners.  You can see that he’s looser and more aggressive than the Top Winners because his trangle (the red one) overlaps the triangle of Top Winners (the gray one).

PTR Premium General

PTR Premium General

General Tab: Pre-flop
Now, as we scroll down the page, we get into more detailed Pre-flop stats.  You can see his VPIP in the SB and the BB, his 3betting, 4 betting and shoving tendencies, and the likelihood he will fold his blinds to a steal.

PTR Premium General - Pre-Flop Stats

PTR Premium General - Pre-Flop Stats

General Tab: Pre-flop – 3Bet
We can also drill down deeper into all of the pre-flop stats.  For example, if I click “3bet”, I can see how Isildur’s 3betting tendencies compare with Top Winners using the chart on the right.

PTR Premium General - Preflop 3bet

PTR Premium General - Preflop 3bet

General Tab: Flop
Further down on the page, we can get into more detailed flop, turn and river statistics.

PTR Premium General - Flop Stats

PTR Premium General - Flop Stats

General Tab: Showdown
Showdown stats are here too.

PTR Premium General - Showdown Stats

Results Tab
The “Results” tab shows a line graph with the overall amount of money Isildur won and a bar graph with the number of hands he put in on a specific day.

PTR Premium Results - All Stakes

PTR Premium Results - All Stakes

Results Tab: Adjusting Stakes
You can also adjust the graph to include hands from just a specific game/level.  In this case, I chose $500/$1000 PLO HU.  You can also set a specific date range.  That could be particularly useful if you’re looking at a player with a long history.  He might have been a poor player 3 years ago, but he could be really good now…

PTR Premium Results - $500/$1000 PLO

PTR Premium Results - $500/$1000 PLO

Positions Tab
In the “Positions” tab, you can see how much money he won (or lost) in the BB and the SB.  As expected, Isildur1 has lost money in the BB and won money on the button.

PTR Premium Positions

PTR Premium Positions

Vs Tab
The “Vs” tab gives you a ton of sorting options on who he lost money to and who he won money from.  It also let’s you easily see how Isildur1’s VPIP, PFR, CR, and Aggression compares with other players using the graph on the right.

PTR Premium VS

PTR Premium VS

Premium Table Finder
The Premium Table Finder is my favorite part of the Premium section.  It gives you a score on how juicy a table is and you can drill down to see the stats of the individual players sitting in.  In this case, Pinedale looks pretty fishy.  There no one with over 20,000 hands of experience and the majority of players are losers.

PTR Premium Table Finder

PTR Premium Table Finder

PokerTableRatings Premium is still in beta. Expected launch date is still to be determined.

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The Poker Life Cycle /2010/02/the-poker-life-cycle/ /2010/02/the-poker-life-cycle/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2010 03:23:45 +0000 Gugel /?p=536 People are born, grow up, grow old, and die.  Businesses are born, mature, and die.  Most businesses that were around 100 years ago aren’t around today — technology gets outdated, CEOs die off and the corporate bureaucracy stifles adaptation. Poker, like any other business, has a finite lifespan.

Take a look at the graph below. The most of amount of profit potential is in the “development” and “introduction” phase.  Starting a business in these two phases, however, carries a phenomenal amount of risk.  A lot of industries look like they’re in the “development” and “introduction” phase before stalling.  The “growth” phase is where you wanna break into the industry.  The early pioneers have proved that the industry is profitable and they have developed successful strategies that you can imitate and improve on.

Industry Life Cycles

Industry Life Cycles

So where is poker in the industry life cycle?  Notice the remarkable similarity between the general industry life cycle graph above the number of WSOP entrants as visualized in the graph below:

Poker Industry Life Cycle

Poker Industry Life Cycle

In my opinion, now’s not the time to get into poker.  If you didn’t start playing before 2006-2007, I think you’ll be trying to squeeze into a much narrower window of opportunity.  That’s not to say that someone just starting poker now can’t make it big.  They can.  It will just require more blood, sweat and tears to get there.

There are 3 main reasons why the poker industry has declined.

  1. Natural maturity of the industry is responsible for 70% of the decline.  Just like any other business, a big profit margin quickly attracts competition and that competition eventually drives down the profit margin. The profit margin of every industry always moves towards  (but never reaches) zero.
  2. UIGEA is responsible for 20% of the decline.  Passed in 2006, the legislation made American poker players jump through hoops to get money online and Party Poker withdrew from the U.S. market.  If the UIGEA is repealed and poker becomes regulated in the U.S., the industry will rebound but it will never return to anywhere near 2006 levels.
  3. The global recession – responsible for 10% of the decline.  Fish have less money to deposit.

For the record, I’m friends with the guys at DeucesCracked and PokerTableRatings, but I’ve tried to remain unbiased in my evaluation.  I’m on the fence if they’ve hurt or helped the poker economy, but either way, I think they’re making a relatively minor impact in the grand scheme of things.

  1. Online training sites – The availability of great coaching resources has made the competition tougher.  It’s also much easier for you to get better at poker.  It balances out.
  2. Online databases – On one hand, online databases make bumhunting easier and limit action.  On the other hand, it lets you table select much more effectively and increases your profit margin.  Also, the guys at PTR use their data to help prevent cheating scandals (like UB/Absolute) from harming the industry.   It balances out.

The main reason why poker is tougher these days is the natural maturation of the industry.  But is online poker dead?  Of course not!  If you have the right mix of dedication, talent, intelligence, and guts, you can still be really successful.

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And the Winner Is… /2009/10/and-the-winner-is/ /2009/10/and-the-winner-is/#comments Wed, 14 Oct 2009 15:40:04 +0000 Gugel /?p=469 In 2 weeks since, 12 people registered and made a meaningful post on the HU Forums.

The lucky winner of the $25 worth of free coaching is Hank. Congrats and prepare to crush souls.

Coaching like Mick from Rocky

Remember, posting on the Heads Up Forums is almost like getting free coaching. You can ask me any question about HU cash games – be it general strategy or about specific hands you’ve played.

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Win $25 Worth of Free Coaching /2009/09/win-25-worth-of-free-coaching/ /2009/09/win-25-worth-of-free-coaching/#comments Mon, 28 Sep 2009 14:02:12 +0000 Gugel /?p=405 Want to win $25 (1/2 an hour) of free coaching from me?  All you have to do is post a hand or ask a question on the Heads Up Forums.  I’ll select one lucky winner out of everyone that makes a post in the next 2 weeks.

Update: In 3 days, 5 people have already signed up and posted.  My goal is to have 25 people registered by the time the contest is over (October 11, 2009).  Remember, it only takes a few minutes to register and ask question.  Hell, you might even learn something :)

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Introducing the Heads Up Forums /2009/09/introducing-the-anskypoker-com-heads-up-forums/ /2009/09/introducing-the-anskypoker-com-heads-up-forums/#comments Thu, 24 Sep 2009 17:33:54 +0000 Gugel /?p=398 Check out the new Heads Up Forums!

You’ll be able to personally ask me questions about hands you’ve played, heads up NL strategy, hand reading and mental toughness.  I’ll post hands from my HU sessions too.  It’s gonna be almost like getting free coaching from me…ALMOST…

If you have questions about HU SNGs, 6max or full ring games, take it somewhere else :)

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Problems with Hold’Em Manager After Full Tilt’s Update /2009/07/problems-with-holdem-manager-after-full-tilts-update/ /2009/07/problems-with-holdem-manager-after-full-tilts-update/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2009 00:03:30 +0000 Gugel /?p=299 It looks like the new version of FTP made the HEM HUD stop working.  It wouldn’t even display the mucked hole cards of your opponent…

HEM support was on it pretty quick and came out with a beta version that should address most of the issues.  It looks like one of the lasting consequences of this update is that datamining will be out the picture.  That’s not really a problem for me since I never datamine, but I bet a lot of people will be pretty disappointed.

For the latest information, you can also refer to the official HEM forum thread.

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Vegas Baby, Vegas /2009/06/vegas-baby-vegas/ /2009/06/vegas-baby-vegas/#comments Tue, 23 Jun 2009 02:08:43 +0000 Gugel /?p=293 Just booked my tickets to Vegas today.  I’m leaving this Friday and coming back on Tuesday.  My flight leaves at like 5:50AM Tuesday so that pretty much guarantees I’m staying up all night.  I’m so pumped!

Best part is that I’m staying with Ansky at the Two Months, Two Million house.  Plan is to go to Lake Mead, do some dune buggy racing, and party like it’s 1999.  It’s gonna be pretty sick.

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3 Things You Need to Master /2009/05/3-things-you-need-to-master/ /2009/05/3-things-you-need-to-master/#comments Sat, 30 May 2009 01:43:30 +0000 Gugel /?p=264 There are three things you need to master to be a great poker player.  That’s right, just three things.

How to Be a Good Poker Player

How to Be a Good Poker Player

If you master just one or two, you’ll probably be mediocre at best (probably still bad).  Some people have excellent emotional control, but bad hand reading skills.  Others have great strategy, but bad emotional control.  Identify your weakness and strengths.  Eliminate your weakness and build on your strengths.  That’s the way to become great.

Emotional Control
You have to prevent your emotions from getting in the way of rational decisions.  When you’re on tilt, you are simply not capable of making well-thought out decisions.  The logical part of your brain literally shuts off.  For some, emotional control means means setting a stop-loss.  Other avoid playing regulars and stick to bumhunting.

Hand Reading
Think deeply about what hands your opponent can have and what hands your opponent thinks you have.  Heads up is a great way to improve your hand reading abilities because it puts you in a lot of tough situations that really make you think.

Some players are naturally very good at making the most +EV decision.  Someone can be a bad hand reader, but have good strategy.  He might assign a bad hand range to an opponent, but his decisions are good for the hand range he puts the villain on.

So where are you weak?  Where are you strong?

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