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Harrington on Cash Games: Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
by Dan Harrington
Book Picture
Dan Harrington begins his insight into success at cash games in Volume 1 with chapters that look basic ideas such as the four principles: expectation, odds and outs, bet types before moving on to the Elements of No-Limit Hold’em and covering stack sizes in relation to hand selection, bet count tables, pot size and pot commitment. Also hand reading. The third major section of the book includes tight-aggressive play before the flop. That’s followed by the same concept on the flop, heads-up, then multiple opponents.  Volume 2 continues with chapters that look at tight aggressive play on the turn, tight aggressive play on the river, tells and observations, playing a style that’s loose-aggressive and beating the weak games, bankroll management. Each chapter covers myriad topics such as reasons for betting, balancing bet size, bluffing, leverage, understanding where you stand, playing live games, disguising your play, picking up blinds, applying pressure.

Harrington on Cash Games: Volumes 1 and 2 Reviewed

Like the stagecoach in the Old West that pulls in with new-to-town passengers, mail and the latest via the frontier newspaper, Dan Harrington’s double package of ammunition for serious playersHoward SchwartzHoward 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  has arrived in on the shelves of Gambler’s Book Shop.

As eagerly-awaited as any poker books this century, Harrington on Cash Games: How to Win at No-Limit Hold’em Money Games Vol. 1 (418 pages, paper bound, $34.95) and Vol. 2 (374 pages, paper bound, $34.95), both with Bill Robertie, cover plenty of previous uncharted territory at all levels of play.

In the past two years, requests for books on cash games have been the strongest ever, perhaps because the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour have attracted such great numbers of players. With a limited number of tournaments offering big bucks, players seem to be eager to find big pots elsewhere, in this case cash games. The problem is that few of the newcomers understand the complexities of no-limit.

Through examples, illustrations, problems and analysis, the Harrington-Robertie combo, like a slick double-play tandem, rises to the occasion (again) to introduce their winning approach to this volatile competition. For instance, when discussing hand reading, the pair illustrates the text with a sample hand played by Mike Sexton and Phil Gordon in a Poker after Dark TV episode.

In Volume One, the first 50 pages re-introduce many basic concepts since the authors assume not everyone knows them.

Follow-up chapters focus directly on the elements of no-limit cash games—stack sizes and hand selection; hand reading (including deception; table image and table presence), tight-aggressive pre-flop play (and how to play specific hands), the small and big blind and attacking the limpers.

The authors move swiftly to tight-aggressive flop play heads-up (which includes bet-sizing on the flop) and betting a variety of hands on the flop. The sections on various flops (pre-flop aggressor out of position and in position; non-aggressor in or out of position) could be some of the best guiding light material ever to appear in any publication.

A final section of Volume 1 examines tight-aggressive play with multiple opponents which includes playing very strong hands; playing overpair and top pair hands; playing and middle pair and low pair hands.

Volume 2 continues at high speed with a solid section on tight-aggressive turn play (balancing bet sizing and pot commitment, bluffing or checking on the turn) Other critical concepts include comparing deep-stack cash games to tournament play, bet-sizing depending on how good your hand is, and calling on the river. The section on tells follows, with focus on how to disguise your own style of play; defending against tells; observing betting patterns and the dangers of table talk.

There are nice discussion on playing the loose-aggressive game (a combination developed by most world class players) along with taking advantage of volatility, the tactics of the loose-aggressive style and when to switch to tight play.

A large majority of cash game players might want to cut right to the “wallet factor.” They want the answer: How can we best beat weak games? Harrington and Robertie cover the topic in detail.  They also provide a wonderful methodology for controlling your bankroll with the understanding that you must move up and down according to the bankroll bottom line. The method looks simple at first glance but it has a tremendous potential for helping players succeed—and not go broke

A final chapter in the second volume is an interview with the respected veteran Bobby Hoff, nicknamed The Wizard and a runner-up to 1979 World Series of Poker winner Hal Fowler in 1979. He’s a big-stack cash game veteran who’s been playing for more than 40 years and he’s open to talking about mistakes he’s made and mistakes he sees today’s top money players making every day.

Both volumes are indexed so you can isolate a specific concept or move easily if this might improve a weakness in your game.

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