The Butoff By Tommy Angelo

Words lag behind what they label. For example, the blogosphere was well past infancy before the word “blogosphere” existed. Bad beats were around long before the term “bad beat” was. And “the universe” was here for billions of years before it got its name. So it’s no surprise, given how fast poker is changing and growing, that we are always running behind. That’s why I have taken it upon my magnanimous self, in the spirit of public service, to help us stay caught up, by making up words (or reassigning them) when I notice one is missing.

Most of the words I come up with are like defective genes; they don’t get passed along. Now and then, I coin one that spreads, such as the hijack seat. And I’m the guy who redeployed the words twotone and monotone to refer to non-rainbow flops. Some other children of mine that are surviving in the wild are table poker (non-internet poker), sixth street (the action after the hand is over), mum poker (it’s just what it sounds like), game rejection (a form of quitting), reciprocality (the cause of profit at poker), and bliscipline (bliss caused by discipline – or is it the other way around?).

And now, I give you: the butoff seat.

There’s a very big difference between butoff and all the other words I have made up in that I didn’t make it up. It came to me. I mean that literally. It came to me in an email from Matts Quiding. All I did was recognize the glorious potential contained within a typo. Here’s the pertinent part from Matts’ email. He was asking me about a betting situation in Limit Hold’em, and I quote:

Hand 9
Betfair – 4-handed
I have 10h-8h in the BB. Very loose cannon who now seems to be raising every hand opens from butoff. Loose-aggressive who realizes this three-bets on the button, SB folds. I’m in the BB. My play here? My calling range for situation?

I saw “butoff” and I did an internal happy dance, which is typically followed by an urge to write to everyone I know and exclaim that I have yet again come across the coolest thing ever. See, I knew instantly what “butoff” meant, what it had always meant, what it was meant to mean. I knew what it was that existed before the word, and now, there was the word, and it was good.

Butoff: A pre-flop position that arises at table poker when the player in the cutoff seat looks left and sees that the button is going to fold. The player in the cutoff will now be last to act for the entire hand and he knows it, even though he doesn’t actually have the button. His position is the butoff. (The abbreviation for the butoff is BO, which fits nicely, as it should, between the abbreviations for the cutoff and the button, thus: CO – BO – BN.)

These are some of the major milestones that have shaped my life: 1) The big bang happened. 2) The solar system happened. 3) Led Zeppelin happened. 4) I happened to notice that the best seat in the house is the one to the right of a tight player who reliably telegraphs his pre-flop action.

So I started moving to the right of guys like that – and looking left a lot – which effectively gave me the button about one and a half times per round. Looking left is huge because when it makes a difference, it makes a huge difference. When I’m in the cutoff and the button gives me the button by indicating that he is folding, I might call when I would have otherwise raised, I might raise when I would have called, I might call instead of folding, and I might raise instead of folding. Those are the biggest strategy alterations possible! Caused entirely by a look left.

You don’t have to believe, like I do, that looking left is in itself totally awesome. The way to think of it is like this: Would it be more profitable for you to not look left? If you think the answer is no, then that means you think that looking left is at worst a freeroll. And if you’re any kind of gambler, you’re supposed to love freerolls.

Okay, for all I know, you might think this is the dumbest idea since nearly-sliced bread (like they serve in restaurants these days). The butoff seat might die right here, right now, and never get reproduced in our meme pool. So be it. All I know is that if you’re sitting on my left and you have the button, and I look over and see that you are about to fold, I know what I’ll be thinking – butt off!

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Want more Tommy? His book, Elements of Poker, contains his best advice in his distinctive style. Buy it from Amazon or personally inscribed from his website at Also at his website you can read his blog and all of his old articles, and find information on his one-on-one intensive coaching program.

This article originally appeared in BLUFF Magazine.