on April 10, 2004
Most of the negative reviews below come from LIMIT players who have probably read Sklansky's books and expect a lot of "if A then do B or C" and a lot of specific advice.
Big bet poker is a bit different in that it would be foolish to give such specific advice. You're going to cost yourself a lot of money (profit or just lose money) if you play cookie cutter poker.
Ciaffone and Reuben's book is good in that it teaches you about how to take into consideration your stack size, your opponent's stack size, and the pot size before acting among other important concepts. That alone is worth the cost of the book.
Regarding the review below: They recommending betting a set on the flop more in potlimit than in no-limit. Checking a set (when you have a pocket pair) in potlimit is going to limit your profits because if everyone checks behind you can only bet/raise the size of the pot on the turn. In nolimit, you can bet whatever you want whenever so checking isn't as costly. Also how does flopping a set when you have a pocket pair automatically imply there is a dangerous flop. In anycase, I ramble. Go to the twoplustwo.com forums to find other positive reviews of this book by MANY bigbet poker players.
Mason Malmuth also HIGHLY recommends this book for you sklansky and malmuth fans.
on February 20, 2005
I bought this book several years ago, before the no-limit craze, when pot-limit and no-limit were played in tournaments and in Europe, and limit dominated American poker. At the time, I wasn't sure what to make of it since I had little experience with big-bet poker, so I asked the opinions of a few players I have a lot of respect for. I knew it was good, but I was a bit surprised at the superlatives in their praise.
I've gone back and read bits and pieces many times since then, and longer chunks a few times. It really is excellent. Even with just a few minutes, you can get something from it - inspiration for a new play, quick insight into a new game, etc. There's a good discussion of the differences between pot-limit and no-limit, which is very useful for those with experience at one trying to adapt to the other.
A few of the other reviews are misguided, which prompted me to add my own. The long review criticizing specific advice takes both the situations and recommendations out of context. As another reviewer pointed out, the recommendation to play big hands strong on the flop is in a discussion of pot-limit, not no-limit, where you can't just check to the river and then move in if the pot is still small.
Another criticism was the idea of reraising all-in with a big draw on the flop. Obviously, this is a bad idea as a regular play, but that's not what they are recommending. As an occasional move against certain opponents, this can be a very powerful move. The other player may have been bluffing, and fold quickly. Or, he may have a good hand, like top pair/top kicker, and lay it down. Even if you get called, you still have around a 35% chance to win. And after you show down a drawing hand after moving all-in, you'll get more calls on your big made hands in the future.
Another supposed "criticism" is that the book doesn't cover hold'em exclusively. The recent hold'em craze is relatively new, driven by the WPT on television. Before a couple years ago, even most pro poker players didn't play much no-limit hold'em. Then and now, people play lots of other games. That this book covers many games shouldn't be a surprise: it lists six games on the cover in big print, under "COVERING". The people who keep making these complaints (several criticize Super System 2 for the same thing) must be new to the poker world in the past year or two.
The section on "strip deck poker" that another reviewer complained about as obsolete takes up barely over one page. It just talks very briefly about the rules and what proper strategy would be, and then adds a quick story about a hand. In that page, Reuben even says, "I am glad to say this game is little-played now. It is excellent for cheating, as two players can easily communicate to each other what their hole card is." I thought it was interesting.
Ciaffone is an American with decades of experience playing, teaching, and writing about poker, with a fairly conservative playing style. Reuben is English, where pot-limit is just about the only form played, with a super-aggressive style. Both have impressive poker resumes, and their contrasting playing styles provide useful perspective.cover odds, percentages, or have
This is not a book for beginners. It doesn't charts of what starting hands to play, and doesn't make blanket statements about what to do. It assumes you already play fairly well and are looking to improve to a higher level. It serves that purpose well, and is even interesting reading, with a few jokes thrown in - unfortunately, very rare for a good poker book.
on December 2, 2004
Pot-Limit & No-Limit Poker is currently the best book on big bet pot-limit and no-limit poker. The big bet involves a lot of human elements (intimidation, trickery, bluffing, etc.) that the more technical limit game does not. It's very easy to master the limit game with expert play, but it's much harder to apply the same techniques and expert formulas to the big-bet game. If no-limit or pot-limit is your game, read this book!
on January 7, 2008
Since I am giving this book such a high rating, I will start out with the criticisms that I think are somewhat justified. After each criticism, I will explain why I think the book is still extremely worthwhile.
1: The book does not concentrate on NLHE. This is very true and it would seem to be a cogent criticism. When I started to play in casinos, the only big-bet game at Foxwoods was an occasional five-dollar blnds pot-limit HE game. Now the lists are long for NLHE at four different levels and there is no pot-limit anything. So the sections of the book on other games and on pot-limit would seem to be wasted.
The bare fact here cannot be denied but there are good reasons to understand the other games and the other betting structures. Poker games have continually gone in and out of fashion. While I think NLHE will be a very important game for a long time, I don't think people are well-advised to be so narrow in focus that they cannot adapt. Pot-limit Holdem is a useful game to understand but you probably won't get much opportunity to play it. Pot-Limit Omaha is an extremely popular game. Some think it is the wave of the future. Even if you don't agree, and I don't, there will probably BE a wave of the future and it is good to be adaptable. The sections on NL Draw and Lowball, PL stud and, shudder, London Lowball all have worthwhile analysis of poker situations that can come up in any game. I won a lot of money in NL Draw and Lowball at one time and any reader of this book will have a major advantage if someone decides to call one of these variations in a dealer's choice game. In fact, given the massive dealer advantage of draw games, there is no reason to call anything else when you deal.
And it is fun to read about London Lowball, even if you would never want to play it. For the same reason that horror movies can be fun, even if you never want to be IN one.
2:The sections on NL are somewhat dated. This is mainly true because Reuben and Ciaffone have probably never played in game where there was a one hundred big-blind limit on the buyin. Such games are very common on the internet and were very common in casinos until recently. The do require somewhat different strategies. In fact, they require very restricted and unimaginative play.
Fortunately, most casinos have raised the buy-in limits somewhat.In deep buy-in games or in games where you and some of the other players have won enough to play deep-stack all streets poker, the advice from this book will aid you well.
3: They advise getting all your chips in on a draw.
Well, they do, under certain conditions. In fact, this is going to be right under those conditions and profitable in two ways. If you push your twelve out (flush and a gutshot or similar) draws very hard, you will win about half the time when there is a showdown. Because your opponent will fold sometimes under the pressure, you make money playing this hand that way. When you have fifteen outs or more, you are a favorite when it goes to a showdown.
Also, once you have been seen to play a hand this way, you never have to slowplay a flopped set or even a straight or flush. You get paid every time.
4: Some peole don't like the style and organization.
This one I can't refute. I don't agree with it but that is a matter of taste and of what helps you learn. I even agree that it is not laid out in the style of a textbook. I just don't find it that important.
on July 6, 2005
Good book if you are already experienced with poker. It gives you tips to use when holding different hands and against different types of players. Solid book. You WILL LEARN SOMETHING AFTER READING THIS BOOK! You obviously don't know enough about poker, or *you* would have a book for sale on Amazon!
I recommend that you buy this book if you want a significatly strong edge against players that understand poker. You must understand it yourself before reading this book. It doesn't contain tips on starting hands, but it provides many useful exercises and examples covering many situations. Enjoy!!!
on April 3, 2003
If you are even considering playing big bet poker, you must read this book. If for no other reason than almost all of your opponents will have read this book.
Bob Ciaffone has played professional level poker for many years. He has also written for 'Card Player' magazine for many years. I own all of his books and can honestly say that his writings have improved my game. And, to top it all off, he is a gentleman.
on February 22, 2002
Ignore the person who gave this book 1 star. Ciaffone and Rueben offer excellent poker advice for both money and tournament players. They cover all the major money games, including Holdem, Omaha, and 7stud. The writing is clear and the examples are excellent. If I had to have only 1 poker book, this might be it. (I'd be tempted by Cloutier's book on Pot and No Limit Holdem; it'd be a hard choice.)
Also, these guys are just fun to read. Not the dry (...) you get in some poker books.