The popularity of tournament poker continues to grow. As more and more people enter poker tournaments, they get tougher to beat. A great deal has been written about poker tournaments, but surprisinglyNick Christenson is widely regarded as one of the best gambling book reviewers publishing today. He is a contributor for Poker Player magazine, and has published in Full-Tilt and Gambling Times. He is also the editor of the very funny 'Casino Death Watch,' which chronicles the comings and goings of casinos in Las Vegas. He is an avid poker and blackjack player. Nick's website is www.jetcafe.org/~npc/ few books have been dedicated to the topic, and I'm still waiting to read the definitive poker tournament book. Will this be the one?
McEvoy begins his book with some general poker tournament strategies. The author is an experienced tournament player who won the main event at the World Series of Poker in 1983 and plays as a professional on the tournament circuit. Most of these strategies will be pretty obvious to a poker player with even a fair bit of experience, but they're important, and anyone who hasn't considered them would be well advised to heed what McEvoy has to say. No matter how skilled the player, they have to get more than a little lucky in order to win a poker tournament. One of the statements the author makes that I really like is that in a tournament a player should strive to play well enough to give themselves a chance to get lucky. This is about the best expression of tournament strategy in a single sentence that I've heard.
The next 11 chapters covering almost 2/3 of the book are about strategies for various games played in poker tournaments. For example, the reader is advised not to play smaller suited connectors in the early stages of a Limit Hold'em tournament unless the pot is multi-way. As another example, in late stages of a tournament McEvoy suggests playing very good draws on 5th street in Razz aggressively against a mediocre but possibly made hand, like a 9 or rough 8. Both of these suggestions are good, but both are also very well known to any poker player familiar with each game.
Advice on playing each game is divided into considerations for early, middle, late, and final table portions of the tournament. The problem is that his advice changes only a little during different times in the tournament, and only a little from game to game. Thus, I find that the book tends to become repetitive. Moreover, the information that we do receive is really pretty bland stuff. We're told that in the early parts of a Limit Omaha High tournament, there is very little blind stealing. If this is a revelation to the reader, then by all means buy and read this book. This won't be news to anyone who has played a Limit Omaha High tournament. The information provided on each game is usually reasonable as far as it goes, but it's necessarily short, and better information on playing each of these games can be found in other books. Of course, if a person doesn't have these books, then the strategies McEvoy presents will usually be better than going into the game completely cold.
The last chapters of the book include suggestions on how to approach smaller buy-in tournaments, satellite strategies, and information on what it's like to be a professional poker tournament player. Like the rest of the book, there's some interesting information here, but there will be few revelations to someone who has played a few tournaments and thought about the game.
If a player is completely new to tournament poker or hasn't thought much about what they should be doing during various stages of the event, then much of this book will be useful to the reader. However, anyone who is well read on poker in general or has spent any time thinking through tournament strategy on their own won't find any big revelations in this book. I believe it is worthwhile for beginners only.
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