Dan Harrington has team again with Bill Robertie with the long-awaited Harrington on Hold ’em Vol. III — The Workbook: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments (352 pages, paperbound, $29.95), and Ed Miller has again teamed with David Sklansky in No-Limit Hold ’em Theory and Practice (3l7 pages, paperbound, $29.95). Both books arrived at Gambler’s Book Club this week and are expected to be the hottest poker titles at the store for a long time.
Harrington’s Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 in the three-book series were snatched off the bookstore shelves faster than a new Harry Potter title last year, with smart players hoping to sharpen their skills for the biggest poker tournament action ever this summer, courtesy of some of the best writer-theorists-players in the business. The highly-respected player and Robertie, a backgammon whiz, here present more than four dozen teaching scenarios involving no-limit hold’em tournament play — live and on the Internet, with several problems drawn from televised tourneys (which allows the authors to analyze strategies and styles of some the biggest names on the circuit).
As the authors describe it, the book “is laid out as a big quiz.” The reader is presented with decisions faced by one of the people in the hand. Your job is to pick the play you would make in the specific situations, with the hand continuing through “many decision points.”
In many cases, the incorrect play will be the focus followed by analysis, criticism and a look at errors. The goal overall is to improve post-flop play.
In this book, chapters are titled “problems” and examine areas like betting for value; aggression meeting aggression; facing an early limper; avoiding the negative free-roll; calling with good odds; maneuvering with nothing; pot odds dictate; playing aces; evaluating a weak hand. Also: slow-playing; defending against a probe bet; playing a small pair out of position; to bet or check on the river; calculating the right raise and heads-up play.
The book is uniquely indexed by subject, concepts and names, so it’s easy to isolate some specific weakness you find within yourself. Next to having Harrington give you hourly lessons, this may be the next best way to bring your game up a notch or two. Get this one early–you’ll need time to study, underline and synthesize the advice. It’s a high value book for the serious tournament player.
No Limit Hold ’em Theory and Practice by Sklansky and Miller contains two major sections-Fundamentals and Concepts and Weapons. The authors emphasize this is not a “recipe book …. We don’t tell you what to do if you have top pair and your opponent bets. We tell you what factors you should consider when you make your decisions. We teach you how excellent players think about the game…this book isn’t intended for beginners … please don’t think of this as a cash game book or a tournament book. It’s not either.”
Yet the book prepares you for playing cash games and tournaments and does a good deal of comparing limit play to no-limit play.
Sections include bluff-sizing; bluffing on the turn and the river; playing the nuts on the river; value betting on the river; raising before the flop; sizing your pre-flop raises with a deep or short stack; call bluffs; check-raising; adjusting to loose games; weak tight games; calling pre-flop all-in raises.
What I like about Miller’s writing is his ability to anticipate player questions, much like a dance partner instinctively adjusting to a specific pace or rhythm. The book flows, with a potent mixture of mathematics, examples, analysis and summary.
One particular section should satisfy most probability enthusiasts in regard to your chances of winning in specific situations. Titled The Sklansky-Chubukov Rankings, it is a 2005 update on the value of all starting hands; and it will act as a guide to help you decide how good a “move-in” hand you have. (Chubukov, not yet a household name is a games theorist from UC Berkeley, should you ask).
One small, but extremely vital section of the book is titled Manipulating Your Opponents. I’d love to have seen more on this. “Indeed one could easily write ten times this amount on the topic and still not cover every technique available…” they admit.
Perhaps we’ll see a book solely on the subject soon.
In summary, get No Limit Hold’em by Sklansky and Miller now. Focus on their advice, learn how to employ it and you’ll eventually notice your game has improved a notch or two.