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Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Some poker book reviews

As I mentioned before I started out with Phil Helmuth's "Playing Poker Like a Pro". At that time the things he wrote sounded quite reasonable and it was a good starting point.
As I started to get more into the poker scene I read a lot book recommendations. The comments on Phil's book (as well as Phil himself) are quite biased. Like it or hate it. I decided I like it ... more to that later.

Until then I read several books and I like to mention three of them here:

1) Small Stakes Hold'em by Ed Miller, David Sklansky, and Mason Malmuth
It's common knowledge that everything by Sklansky and/or Malmuth is worth to read. This one is definitly a must read if you play Low-Limit Hold'em (up to $10/20 at least). Personally I don't like his teaching style of writing. But you get all the important informations and concepts (Pott odds, implied odds etc.)

2) Super System/2 by Doyle Brunson
This was a big dissapointment as a lot of people are praising this one as the "poker bible". It has some nice chapters about how Texas Hold'em started to spread out, Doyle's own history, the World Poker Tour etc.
But I didn't get much from the Hold'em and Tournament chapters. The book has so many pages but it doesn't go deep (at least in those sections). I concentrated on the Hold'em and tournament parts so maybe there is more value in other chapters that I still have to read.
But currently I would say you can have it but you can easily live without it.

3) Harrington on Hold 'em by Dan Harrington
If you are interested in No-Limit Hold'em Tournaments - this is the book!
He deep dives into the important concepts of No-Limit Hold'em always focusing on the special concepts that apply for tournament play. His writing styles makes this book an easy read. This is part one af a two book series (the second isn't published yet) but it's complete in itself.

That get's us back to my starting point from Phil Helmuth. Looking back this one is clearly a beginner book. He doesn't touch important concepts like pott odds etc. But I like his section about what cards to plays and how. He is (super)tight and very aggressive. I compared it to the reccomendations in the other books and still like his style most.
After getting more experience I am sure I will loosen-up somewhat. But for now this still a great starting point. Most other authors play some more hands but call a lot of them. I prefer less hands but raise them. I go with Chris Ferguson here: "[being the first to enter the pot]...any hand worth calling ... is worth a raise". By adding some refinements about "re-raises and calling three bets" from the other authors I think I have a pretty good portfolio now.


bellatrix,  2:32 AM  

Hi Shadow!

So I came around and looked at you BJ and Poker blog. Nice effort! Anyway, I agree with your point on the first book. I feel that Sklansky talks down to me. His BJ / sportsbetting books are really weird so maybe I'm biased that way. I learned with a very simple book: "Winning low limit Hold'em" by Lee Jones. It's good to get your started. Yes, it's not very agressive, so even with fish you'll only make 2BB/hr. But if you hate variance (and I usually play poker after BJ to escape variance) his approach makes so much more sense than Sklansky raising with hands you wouldn't like to be caught dead with.

Good luck in Vegas, I'll be there in 3 weeks.

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