I was looking forward to this book when I ordered it from Amazon, and I have to say I was quite disappointed. I have played live poker since the mid 90's, mostly seven card stud and some razz, until Texas hold-em became the game of choice in the early 2000s. I have been a winner online making a total of $400 of deposits on 5 different online sites. I am still owed money from a poker site since "Black Friday". If you include that money, I have made over $4700 from online poker. I am probably a modest loser live. I never tracked my live play as closely as online. But have not been a large loser. So no, I am not Phil Galfond or Chip Reese but I'm not clueless either. That's the point, I want to improve my game, and listening to the 2+2 ad for the book (the publisher) and reading the description, I had big hopes for this book in helping me improve my game.
I feel the book's title is misleading, to say the least:
The books introduction says: "This is a book about poker theory written for as wide an audience as possible."
Further on in the introduction it says, "This also means using a minimum of mathematics."
The book description then says: "As poker theory develops, the field is becoming more abstruse and mathematical; gradually becoming less accessible to the layperson. The Intelligent Poker Player by Philip Newall aims to reverse this trend by presenting a cohesive and sophisticated method of play in plain English."
This book is not as "accessible to the layperson " as the description would lead you to believe. A word of warning: that the level of math that you must understand to fully appreciate this book is quite substantial. This book is more for the mathematically sophisticated who want to develop an appreciation for the poker applications of game theory to an exploitive method of play. Not for someone like me who is a guy that has been around the poker block but does not see himself as an expert in poker, math or game theory. If you don't know what exploitive play is, I would describe it as either playing in a style that takes best advantage of less skilled players mistakes, with certain tactics you always apply. Or attempting to adjust to your opponents style of play to increase the amount of money you win from them thus, opening yourself up to being exploited by a thinking opponent adjusting to your play. This is the way most players attempt to play poker once they move beyond the novice level.
I have read "The Mathematics of Poker " The Mathematics of Poker
I mention that here because this book is billed by many reviewers as more practical and targeted toward the regular player then Mathematics . Even though Bill Chen"s and Jerrod Ankenman's chapters went right over my head, there is wonderful summaries at the end of each chapter that I have used successfully to improve my game. For example "Good draws (those which have close to 50% equity) benefit greatly from getting all the money in on the flop. However, if they cannot get all the money in (or enough that they can be hurt by later betting), they prefer to get as little as possible." This one little tidbit and there are many in the "The Mathematics of Poker " helped my game without having a clue about the fine points of the math in the chapters.
The lively anecdotes which can make other poker books fun to read are not here. This is dry stuff. 2 + 2 books are not known for humor or light presentation of poker material (even though the Harrington series on tourney's did entertain and teach me at the same time) At times this book actually reminded me of a college text book. Even the graphics in the book reminded me of a book I would see in a college engineering lecture hall.
Somebody at 2+2 must have thought about how to squeeze a few more bucks out of the poker community and came up with a fantastic idea: Develop a promising title for a book, put in some standard poker knowledge on game theory, go through some of the HU limit hands against a computer that have not been covered much, and then ask some buddies to write positive reviews on Amazon. Jackpot we create an instant classic!
The Polaris sections are interesting, but not relevant in the no-fold-em limit games I play in at my local casino. Who really gets much of a chance to play HU limit poker? If you are outside the US and playing online maybe but then this is not the wide audience that this poker book markets itself as targeted to.
Clearly, given the rave reviews this book is getting, here and on other internet boards I'm in the minority. Maybe I'm wrong. Still, if you're a limit player who likes to grind away, or play HU limit poker online maybe this book is for you. Even then there are other books I'd prefer to read to improve my game. Advanced Limit Hold 'em Strategy by Barry Tanenbaum "Advanced Limit Hold'em Strategy
" who just past away in November of 2011 is a gem that may not be as technically correct, but is a book that also improved not only my limit game but my overall poker game as well.
My compliments to the author and publisher (who is a well known poker author himself) for having text-to-speech enabled on the Kindle version. This allows me to interact with the material in different ways. For example I was recently on a long trip in my car and I had the text-to-speech playing while I was driving.
I had a short list of books I narrowed that I hoped would improve my overall game. I now wish I had invested in another book on that list.