Poker Essays

Book reviews
By November 2005

Super System
by Doyle Brunson

When this poker book was published in the late 70s it angered a lot of people who earned their living playing poker. The author, Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson (World Champions of Poker 1976 and 1977), was accused of giving away too much information - the professional poker players feared that they would lose the advantage they had in the game. The book undeniably revolutionized the poker world, and today it's held as a "poker bible".

Naturally lots of poker books have come out since Super System was published. Some of the concepts presented in Brunson's masterpiece have aged but the book still contains useful and effective poker advice. Many different forms of poker are covered and the many hand examples are easy to understand and really informative and helpful. Another great feature is the chapter on playing No Limit Texas Hold'em which has a truly unique approach. In addition to this Brunson lively describes the history of the game - poker's grand old man certainly has many fascinating stories to tell. However, the book is poorly organized and it's actually a bit difficult to find what you're looking for.

Theory of Poker
by David Sklansky

David Sklansky is held as one of the top authorities on gambling in the world today, and has written several books about poker. In "Theory of Poker" introduces the reader to the fundamentals of this classic and exciting cardgame. The concepts in the book can be applied to almost every poker variation, and it's a must read if you want to take your game to a higher level. Bluffing, the value of deception, the value of many poker chips, bluffing, betting/raising, the importance of position, slow-playing, heads-up play, the psychological aspects of poker, game theory, implied odds, the free card, semi bluffing are some of the topics covered.

Whether you prefer Texas Hold'EM or Five Card Stud, this book will be very valuable. No particular playing form is in focus in "Theory of Poker", but every ambitious player will be able to find strategies and ideas to apply to his or hers game. However, if you're beginning player you should perhaps look elsewhere. The text in this book is very elaborate and complicated and will be difficult to grasp for an inexperienced poker player.

Hold'Em Poker for Advanced Players
by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth

If you want to be a top class Texas Hold'em player you have to master complex strategies and understand the psychological depths of the game. In this book, the authors David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth takes up a vast number of topics related to Hold'em- starting hand standards, heads-up play, slow playing, check-raising, gaining free cards, inducing bluffs, semi bluffing, and understanding implied odds are some examples. The strategic advice presented is certainly effective and useful, and if you apply the concepts correctly and with discipline you will surely take your Hold'em game to a higher level.

The content might be complex, but the book is very well written and easy to follow, with a great question and answer section included. Poker beginners are well advised to choose a simpler book to get started with, but in the long run "Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players" is a must read. Many of the best poker players in the world today have admitted to reading this book several times.

Internet Texas Holdem
by Matthew Hilger

Some poker players prefer live games, others do best online. Many strong poker players have testified to the big differences between these ways of playing, and their own difficulties to switch from one to the other. This poker book is focused on Internet poker - what special skills must you posses to make a profit in the online poker games? The advice is restricted to Limit Texas Hold'em games, but if you want to improve yourself in this playing form you will find many useful tips in Hilger's book. The author carefully goes through everything you need to know to make your way in these types of games.

Matthew Hilger started playing poker professionally in 2001 and has played over 7,000 hours online. He knows the game, and he knows how to communicate the experience he has gained. The advice given is clear and effective, the book is easy to read, and the concepts presented are easy to follow and understand. "Test your skill" sections and chapter reviews after each chapter are certainly very useful features. This book is highly recommended if you're looking to improve you online poker skills.

Poker Tournament Strategies
by Sylvester Suzuki

Any poker player that wants to achieve success in tournaments must adjust his game plan to the special circumstances this playing form offers. The size of your and your opponents' chip stack becomes a very important factor in poker tournaments. Possibilities to make re-buys might also affect your approach to the game. If you play the same way you would in a regular cash game you will find it very difficult to be successful in tournaments. Very few players master both tournaments and cash games.

Sylvester Suzuki (a pseudonym used by a very experienced tournament player) covers most aspects of tournament play in this book. When is it right to be on the offensive and try to eliminate other players? When is it best to concentrate on accumulating poker chips and building up your stack, without taking any big risks? When should you just try to survive and stay in the game? If you've been asking yourself these kinds of questions, this is the book for you. It's well written, easy to follow, and provides solid and effective poker tournament strategy advice.

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