Matt Lessinger, a player, writer and now teacher, has zeroed in on a vital area all players seek to develop, cultivate and use as a deadly weapon in any level game of hold'em poker. The subject isHoward Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," is the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he has held since 1979. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry. Howard's website is www.gamblersbook.com
bluffing. Lessinger's work is appropriately titled The Book of Bluffs
(229 pages, paperbound, $13.95).
Hot off the presses (October 2005) it contains 11 solid chapters, packed with illustrations, sample hands, and interviews with players who pulled off some of the biggest bluffs in modern poker history. Many of us hate to bluff, fear bluffing and go on tilt once we're shown we've been bluffed, and this applies to some of the best known tournament and cash game names in the business.
Where most books have a basic chapter, section or discussion on bluffs, Lessinger takes it many notches better -- almost honing it to a fine art where we'd all like to be -- way ahead ands brave enough to keep plowing over the opposition even when don't have a great hand.
Lessinger examines the risk/reward ratio factor; teaches us how to uncover calling and betting patterns, while alerting us when to look to our left.
There are various types of bluffs to be alert for, including techniques Lessinger calls "playing past the flop," when the field checks once or twice. He helps fine tune the most aggressive players while actually teaching the timid player how to get more aggressive in a chapter called Attacking Weakness (Drawing Hands).
"When you're bluffing, you don't intend to ever show your hand, so your cards don't matter. The more important thing is to accurately gauge your opponent's strength, or lack thereof," he advises.
Like an Olympic gymnastic judge, Lessinger offers "degrees of difficulty" for many bluffs, with a specific rate of success prediction, and this formula should prove helpful to every level player. But you've got to work at it, experiment, be patient, know your opponents and the situation and like a predator, leap at your opponent's throat (bankroll) and catch him or her unaware.
Lessinger has clearly been influenced by some of the biggest names in the business (Mike Caro, Doyle Brunson, Stu Ungar, David Sklansky among others) and draws from their work here and their with proper credit.
There's a 15-page chapter for online bluffing, involving "call and push" early and late stages and his advice on whether to use "auto-betting" (an option allowing you to click on a box or button that lets you select your play before the action reaches you).
Lessinger, born in the Bronx, now living in the Bay area, has written a much-needed book on a subject players have been asking for since the game went red-hot. The quality of writing and the price make it a must-have, must-read for every level player.