Poker players who love or dislike Phil Hellmuth (his arrogance and ego could put King Kong on tilt many claim), there's a book title worth remembering--Kill Phil by Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson (275Howard 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 pages, paperbound, $24.95).
Subtitled The Fast Track to Success in No-Limit Hold'em Poker Events, the indexed book contains four parts and 13 chapters. Russ Hamilton, who won the World Series of Poker at Binion's in 1994 calls this work "The best book on no-limit hold'em I've ever read."
"The Kill Phil strategy is designed to take advantage of what we, and many others, feel is a weakness in no-limit hold'em tournaments -- the overemphasis on the all-in move in the later stages," the authors emphasize.
This is an interesting work in more ways than one.
It's both instructive overall, by analyzing players and their styles and covers much territory often neglected or skimmed over by other books and theorists.
Rodman, a world class 21 player, competed in the World Series of Poker and Nelson, one of Australia's best players, examine "small ball" players who "chip away with a variety of intricate strategies"--including being involved in many pots " Š waiting for the fattest opportunities," especially those which occur after the flop.
The "long ball" players (similar to home run hitting), usually apply their skills before the flop.
This book begins to pick up steam after page 30. (Earlier sections background the history of tournament poker, the early days of the World Series and compare the older generation players' traits with those of the new.)
The serious, calculating player will learn more about concepts like the "chip-status index," and how to calculate the CPR (cost per round).
The authors discuss playing aces or kings early with small blinds and a large stack; basic post-flop play. There's a small (two pages) section on sit-n-go tournaments and single-table satellites; two pages on online play and an interesting section (three pages) on how to avoid tells.
Using "downtime to learn" -- meaning when you're not in action, don't get lazy -- observe your opponents' play.
Rodman and Nelson examine how to play according to your stack size; playing the player and the power of the re-raise; along with table image and how to change gears.
By Chapter Nine, the book is a high-balling freight train, with knockout moves called Advanced Post-Flop Strategy being detailed. This includes situations like Heads-Up, Unraised Pot, You Act First or You Act Last; followed by Counting Outs; Trapping and Avoiding Traps; Avoiding Pre-Flop Traps and Trapping Post-Flop.
Many players have their own theories about how Playing Aces. The authors devote a major section to this vital area -- including why "falling in love: with aces can be a major error; when to limp with aces and varying the size of pre-flop raises.
One of the book's more fascinating sections is titled Reverse Tells including Feigning Weakness When You're Strong; how to Appear Indecisive; Conveying Strength When You're Weak.
Players often ask about "deals" (sometime they're allowed, sometimes not) -- the book devotes four pages to this controversial area, where players agree to split tournament prizes.
For those who have never played in a tournament, the book contains a major (24 pages) section to the topic, explaining how grueling they can be; factors like travel; burnout; attitude; rules; table etiquette; penalties; ethics; stalling; playing out of turn.
The book also contains pre and post-flop matchup tables based on expected value; the odds of making your hand with two cards to come; pair probability (A-A through 2-2).
We're probably going to see a dozen more poker books keyed to tournament play; biographies of players who have competed in tournaments and the like, but this one has much to offer, and I'm sure anyone playing in some major tournament will want a copy on the table the next time Hellmuth faces them, like garlic repelling a vampire.
Overall, an intelligent, original effort with many new tournament table survival tips.
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