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Mastering No-Limit Hold'em Paperback – May 1, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Russell Fox began playing poker while in college at Berkeley but did not begin to take the game seriously until 1999. Then, while living in Seattle with free time, he began to play in the local cardrooms and tournaments. Almost immediately he became a winning player, and he has not had a losing year to date. He has had numerous final table appearances, including winning the 2001 BARGE no-limit hold’em championship. You can usually find Russ playing no-limit hold’em in one of the Southern California cardrooms.

Scott T. Harker has also been playing poker since college. Poker became an outlet for his competitive juices. He began playing poker seriously to supplement his income while living in Las Vegas. Today Scott plays mainly online poker, in low-to-middle-limit and no-limit hold’em cash games. Scott has been a successful winning cash game player since 1999.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Conjelco; First Edition edition (May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1886070210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886070219
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Mecklin on May 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
If you are looking to play no-limit cash games (as opposed to tournaments) and your main experience with NL Texas holdem is watching poker on TV or playing sit-and-go or multi-table tournaments online, please get this book. The truth is that NL holdem against ordinary players is not a game that requires or demands a lot of fancy plays and bluffs, but rather mostly solid fundamentals. It might be "sexy" to play like Gus Hanson or Daniel Negreanu do on TV (at short-handed final tournament tables) but you don't want to play like this in the typical game. This book stresses these fundamentals of how to bet, when to raise/call/fold, how to play after the flop, etc.

I thought that I was a decent NL player, but I underestimated the differences between cash game and tournament style holdem. In the few weeks I've had the Fox/Harker book, my results playing NL holdem cash games, both online and in a casino, have been great.

This book assumes that you will be playing in a "restricted" buy-in NL holdem game against average opposition, which is the type of game you would play online (with a $25-$200 buy-in) or in a casino (where the buy-in is usually in the $100-$500 range). Unlike Doyle Brunson's SuperSystem, Harker and Fox do not assume you are playing with a huge stack of thousands of dollars against players that are scared to death of your raises. They also do not assume that you are a world-class player in terms or putting your opponents on a hand.

I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 because I would have personally preferred a lengthier discussion of "implied" and "reverse implied" odds and more mathematics (although most will probably find plenty of math for their taste).
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By P. Binion on November 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
The first two chapters reveal that the book is superficial, repetitive and confused.

The book says it is aimed at fixed and variable cash buy-in games between $100 and $500. On page 8, we are told "in all cases, we recommend you buy-in for the maximum possible amount. There is no reason to put yourself at a disadvantage . . ."

Just 3 pages later, on page 11, we are told "we strongly advise you buy-in for the maximum amount. First, many of your opponents will buy in for the maximum. Second, if you purchase the minimum, you will be relatively short stacked. Why put yourself at a disadvantage?"

Now, not only is this advice repetitive, but no valid justification is offered for buying in at the maximum.

The fact is that the bigger your stack, the better player you need to be. There is a reason for this. Any hand you open as a big stack, with a limp or a raise, gives implied odds for all those with position on you to call with a wider variety of hands. This is why Ciaffone/Reuben and later Miller suggest that newer players not play big stacks initially.

In addition, the book is confused. On page 2, we are told that bluffing is not a big weapon anymore in this level of game where people routinely call all their stack on one pair. However, on p. 21, we are told that a big stack is a weapon to be used to bluff with, citing with approval an example where a big stack raised 99 preflop, got bet into on an A83 board, and then reraised all-in, getting a player with AT to fold.

In reality, "big stacks as weapon" is much more of a tourney concept where the blinds increase and you can't go in your pocket. And the advice on page 2 is correct - many calling stations exist today, and attempting to bluff those players is incorrect.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Chris V on April 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
I play poker for a living and online no-limit cash games between 2/4 and 5/10 are currently my games of choice. I have read probably 15 poker books and this one (MNLHE) is far and away the worst. I think the only reason it ever got decent ratings is that for a long time there were very few books on no-limit on the market. This has changed. No Limit Holdem: Theory And Practice (NLHE:TAP) by Sklansky and Miller is now the Bible on cash no-limit, and Phil Gordon's Little Green Book and Little Blue Book are also very good.

As other reviewers have noted, this book endorses the bizarre idea that a short stack is an inherent disadvantage (as opposed to simply a less profitable choice than a deep stack) in a cash game. This commonly believed idea was debunked once and for all in NLHE:TAP.

MNLHE's problems get much worse than that, though. You only have to reach page 18 before this stunning advice appears. You're sitting in a $2/$3 NL game with $60, having just lost a pot, and:

"You look down at 9d7h in the cut-off position. An early position player raises to $7 and 4 players call. Normally you would fold this hand but in this situation you might elect to call. It is likely your cards are live. If you hit the flop you can win a large pot."

If you haven't played much no-limit you'll have to take my word for it that this is unbelievably bad advice. I feel silly even explaining why, but: with a deep stack of say $300, a call could be justified, but with a stack as small as 20 big blinds, your payoff when you hit the flop in a big way is far too small. You have good position, but that is worth a lot less when you're short stacked. The pot is going to be something like $40 on the flop and you only have $53, so your choices are going to be limited to allin or fold.
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