Grimming In Poker

According to poker lore “grimming in poker” began with the legendary “grimstarr” on Pokerstars. Basically, this player used to play one hand (posting the small blind) heads up and then sit out. When the SB is the button this provides an obvious advantage to this player. This became known as “grimming” and has been looked down on heavily ever since. Some websites will even take punitive action for such behavior. 

What Is Wrong With Grimming?

The problem is that websites have no laid down a clear set of rules or regulations for players to abide by. They effectively leave players to self police and then occasionally and often arbitrarily will step if they see enough complaints. Its tricky for website operators given the complexity of the situation. For example, is it ok to play 3 hands and then sit out? This would mean that you would post the small blind twice (with the button) and the big blind only once. Again this could be a huge advantage over time. What about 5, 7, 9, 11, or 13 hands? Where do you draw the line? Ideally this line could be drawn clearly. To this day a clear line has still not been created. I still know that players are complaining to poker networks about this. Obviously, for a heads up match to be fair an equal number of hands should be played from the SB and BB. These issues only come into play amongst regs. Recreational players don’t even know what grimming is let alone care. Should networks just let the regs police themselves? All of the players that complain about being grimmed are more than capable of standing up for themselves.

How To Defend Against An Opponent Who Is Grimming You?

The obvious answer is that when they come to the table sit out! Perhaps the networks should take punitive action only if grimming is combined with stalking…. However, many poker player have huge egos and they don’t want to sit out when an opponent comes to their table. Also, sitting out may disrupt their ability to monitor 30 tables where they are looking for action. As a result they tend to try to complain to poker networks and get them to take punitive action toward the Villain. At high stakes like the table below a $5/$10 NLHE game grimming can be a profitable endeavour.


What About Sitting Out and Table Camping at Multiple Poker Tables?

Recently some networks have started to prevent players from sitting out on a couple of tables. The idea is to prevent a large number of tables being open with players not playing. Unfortunately, this makes grimming even a bigger issue. If you don’t allow sitting out but you allow grimming then the “grimmers” will rule and unless you are willing to be “grimmed” you have to sit out and leave. Suddenly regs can no longer police themselves.

On the flip side of the equation if you prevent grimming and sitting out then you may limit the number of table starters that you have on a network. For example one player who other players don’t want to play heads up can sit in on all the games another reg is trying to start. Basically he can stalk other regs. This is done btw…. He can do this just to prevent that reg from opening tables at a particular stake level. Essentially this player wants to “rule” a particular level and attempt to monopolize the action. Should punitive action be taken for table stalking other regs at non HU games?

Grimming As A Defense?

Is a table starter obliged to play any and all regs that come to his table? If you don’t want to play a particular reg then grimming can be an effective defensive tactic to prevent them from sitting at tales you are trying to start (but don’t want to play them HU). What do you guys think? Is grimming ever justified? Should you be allowed to not play a particular player HU but not be forced to leave all tables when that player stalks you? I am curious to hear your thoughts. Personally, I feel like networks should largely stay out of these kind of stupid little battles. When networks choose sides between regulars they generally lose IMO.

What About The Terms & Conditions

I have always been a believer that players should abide by the terms and conditions laid out by the house. If you don’t like them play elsewhere. However, T&C tend to be vague on these kinds of subjects. Unfortunately, this leads to arbitrary enforcement based on opinion and is generally inconsistent. I am not sure what Poker Stars has done recently to deal with these issues. They are the world leaders in poker and so I would be interested to hear some feedback. This is a controversial subject but I would love to hear your thoughts on possible solutions.

If you haven’t already be sure to check out my book Exploitive No Limit Holdem. I draw on hundreds of thousands of hands of expertise to explain how best to find exploitive opportunities against opponents at small-high stakes games.


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