Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Book Report

I picked up a couple of books in Vegas prior to flying to Tunica, knowing as I did that the latter is not exactly the entertainment capital of the world. I wasn't expecting them to be very good, and they weren't, but they seemed the best on offer at the time.

David Apostolico's "Secrets of the Pro Poker Tour" suffers from much the same problem as his previous book, which was based on Sun Tzu's Art Of War. Simply, like so many others, he over-values survival in tournaments. Now this is bad enough at the best of times, but it's exacerbated here because he is talking about playing in a tough field. It just doesn't add up. One minute he's gushing over how brilliant Baxter, Brunson & co. are, the next he's folding a pair and a flush draw on the flop to a single raise. Did Sun Tzu himself not say "When on desperate ground, fight" ? Yes, he did. If you find yourself surrounded by better players, then the first thing you say to yourself is "what's wrong with my game selection". I can excuse that one because Apostolico blagged some kind of exemption and was freerolling. The second is "right, let's gamble". What are you waiting for in this spot. To outplay them ? You just said they were legends of the game. To find Aces ? Why, are you better at finding Aces than anyone else ?

I also picked up a book by John Vorhaus which was so good I can't remember the title. It might have been Killer Poker Online 2 or something. This wasn't up to much even by Vorhaus' standards (he's normally entertaining but light on useful content). For example, an entire Sit and Go chapter contained half a page on playing 4-handed, which basically said "don't pass Jacks". This is more correct than Harrington 3's position, but even so, thanks for that. Fischman's book has the best SNG advice that I have seen in print to date, along with the half page or so in MOP. However, as I have said before, if you pick up one point from a book and use it at the right time it can pay off many times over. Vorhaus' heads up section wasn't too bad, and I used his principle of "build the pot then take it" to win a pot for about 10% of the chips in play heads up in the one I won. Without that pot, the final hand wouldn't have ended it and he would still have had a small chance of a comeback. Even if that was worth $1000 in EV (and that's a conservative estimate), that's not bad for $19.95+tax.

When I returned I sent off for Matt Lessinger's Book Of Bluffs, after my brief Email exchange with him while in Vegas. This was much better and I recommend it. Lessinger is the first author I have read who notes the possibility of flat calling a raise with a big pair to take advantage of over-aggressive squeezers, and the full text is similarly thoughtful. A thumbs up for that one.

Finally I was so bored towards the end of my trip that I read a couple of CardPlayers and I must say that Matt Matros' articles in there are far, far too good. I had a sore neck from agreeing him in both cases, and generally they served to highlight the total paucity of the rest of the publication.

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