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Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play Paperback – December 1, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 540 customer reviews

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About the Author

Dan Harrington began playing poker professionally in 1982. On the circuit he is known as Action Dan, an ironic reference to his solid but effective style. He has won several major no-limit hold em tournaments including the European Poker Championships (1995), the $2,500 No-Limit Hold em event at the 1995 World Series of Poker, and the Four Queens No-Limit Hold em Championship (1996).

Dan began his serious games-playing with chess, where he quickly became a master and one of the strongest players in the New England area. In 1972 he won the Massachusetts Chess Championship, ahead of most of the top players in the area. In 1976 he started playing backgammon, a game which he also quickly mastered. He was soon one of the top money players in the Boston area, and in 1981 he won the World Cup of backgammon in Washington D.C., ahead of a field that included most of the world s top players.

He first played in the $10,000 No-Limit Hold em Championship Event of the World Series of Poker in 1987. He has played in the championship a total of 15 times and has reached the final table in four of those tournaments, an amazing record. Besides winning the World Championship in 1995, he finished sixth in 1987, third in 2003, and fourth in 2004. In 2006 he finished second at the Doyle Brunson North American Championships at the Bellagio, while in 2007 he won the Legends of Poker tournament at the Bicycle Club. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest and most respected no-limit hold em players, as well as a feared opponent in both no-limit and limit hold em side games. He lives in Santa Monica where he is a partner in Anchor Loans, a real estate business.

Bill Robertie has spent his life playing and writing about chess, backgammon, and now poker. He began playing chess as a boy, inspired by Bobby Fischer s feats on the international chess scene. While attending Harvard as an undergraduate, he became a chess master and helped the Harvard chess team win several intercollegiate titles. After graduation, he won a number of chess tournaments, including the United States Championship at speed chess in 1970. He also established a reputation at blindfold chess, giving exhibitions on as many as eight boards simultaneously.

In 1976 he switched from chess to backgammon, becoming one of the top players in the world. His major titles include the World Championship in Monte Carlo in 1983 and 1987, the Black & White Championship in Boston in 1979, the Las Vegas tournaments in 1980 and 2001, the Bahamas Pro-Am in 1993, and the Istanbul World Open in 1994.

He has written several well-regarded backgammon books, the most noted of which are Advanced Backgammon (1991), a two-volume collection of 400 problems, and Modern Backgammon (2002), a new look at the underlying theory of the game. He has also written a set of three books for the beginning player: Backgammon for Winners (1994), Backgammon for Serious Players (1995), and 501 Essential Backgammon Problems (1997).

From 1991 to 1998 he edited the magazine Inside Backgammon with Kent Goulding. He owns a publishing company, the Gammon Press, and lives in Arlington, Massachusetts with his wife Patrice.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 381 pages
  • Publisher: Two Plus Two Pub.; F First Paperback Edition Used edition (December 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880685337
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880685334
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (540 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By M. Grapenthien on February 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No limit hold'em, obviously, is a complex game. So complex that there has never been a good comprehensive treatment in a book form; I had thought that this was because it involves more "table feel", experience and intuition that can't be easily taught or expressed in a useful format.

Harrington and Robertie have done just that. Harrington is the 1995 world champion, and the only player to make the final table in both 2003 and 2004, overcoming the two biggest fields in World Series history (839 and 2,576 players, respectively). Robertie is a top backgammon player and author of several excellent books on that game.

Among the top players, there are drastically different styles of play, from conservative to super-aggressive. One problem I expected was that given Harrington's solid, fairly conservative style, he wouldn't be able to give much useful information on playing at the other end of the end of the spectrum, styles such as those employed by Daniel Negreanu and Gus Hansen.

I was wrong. The book does a fine job addressing the relative merits of various styles, playing against each type of opponent, and even choosing one for yourself. This makes sense; no matter his own style, to be successful he has to have spent a lot of time thinking about, observing, and combatting all different types of players. Further, a playing style isn't cast in stone; even the most conservative players have to switch gears and become much more aggressive at times, and vice versa.

A few more notes on this idea: first, Harrington's own play as described isn't as conservative and cautious as many think. Second, a fairly conservative approach is demonstrably the more sound one for the student, and anyone without many years of experience.
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Every time I read a 'poker book', my play seems to suffer until I can figure out how to incporate the new thoughts I have with my style of play. Not true with this book - in some instances my style of play felt 'validated', and in others, I learned where my style of thinking was differing from a 'professional'.

This book has a different 'style' from other books - it doesn't start with lame advice like 'hand rankings'... it runs down the difference between amateur and professional thinking - things like position, bets a multiples of the blinds, etc. it then talks you through scenario after scenario from real poker situations, asks you what you would do, then explains how he would have thought about it. These scenarios are grouped into sections with 3-5 hands designed to 'teach a lesson'.

This is truly a magnificent book - the first of its kind that I have found that teaches the person who already knows how to 'play', really how to PLAY.
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Harrington and Robertie have surely done it again -- even more powerfully than in their first volume. They have presented the authoritative text about how to think about and how to play a final table in a no limit hold em tournament. And in so doing they have redefined the game.

Harrington and Robertie introduce a whole new lexicon (at least it was new to me) about no limit poker: inflection points, red zones, dead zones, green zones, probe bets, continuation bets. Some of these phrases I had heard -- maybe even dropped to impress people from time to time. But they explain them clearly and tie them all together in a vivid strategic picture of the game.

But even if you were familiar with all of these terms and phrases that help clarify the many otherwise intuitive concepts of no limit tournament play, you've never read a simpler, clearer or more powerful explanation of them -- and all of the different stages players enter as their stack size grows and diminishes at the final table in a tournament. Similarly so with other vital concepts to no limit play like continuation and probe bets and final table play. Harrington and Robertie take the ideas that excellent players have intuitively known but until now have not fully expressed and put them into clear, simple language that any moderately experienced player can readily grasp and absorb. The hand examples, which the authors think us through further drive home the key points of this masterwork.

To say that this is a must read for every serious hold em player doesn't do it justice. It is a book that has set a new standard for poker literature. Even if you are a very experienced winning no limit tournament player, this book will help you think and play.
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I bought this book the other day and was rather skeptical about how good it would be, but, now that I finished it, I can honestly say that Harrington on Hold `em is the best book on poker that I have ever read. Am I over-exaggerating? No. The secret of this manual is that, while he expresses many of the same thoughts and ideas as other poker players/writers, he is far superior to them in the teaching of technique and strategy.

As a teacher, Harrington is a master. Every page is crystal clear and comprehensible which is considerably more than I can say about the works of his publisher, David Sklansky. The lingo was in keeping with our common poker tongue, and I never had difficulty imaging the situations he described; whereas, with Super System I, while I totally recommend it, there were times when I could not apply Doyle's counsel to my own game due to a lack of skill. Such a situation never arose with Harrington on Hold `em. Many of my faulty and defeatist habits at the table were identified, and, more importantly, the manual helped me understand just how much careful attention needs to be paid to the betting patterns of my opponents.

The strongest segments in the book are "The Problems" sections. They are found at the end of each chapter or part. Harrington uses them to "show" us information after he has already taught the concepts. These scenarios grab us by the wallet and place us atop the championship felt. The funniest, and most unique, thing about his examples is that Harrington observes the hands from a vantage point high above the players. He tells us what should be done and then often has to shake his head when the player analyzed does the complete opposite.
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