It’s Sunday August 5 and last night I busted out of the £200+£25 deep stack at Nottingham’s Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club. I debated about driving home a night early having been a bit disappointed at not making it to day two, but decided against the idea. I took a walk by the canals to contemplate the year ahead of me and finish reading “The Raiser’s Edge” by Bertrand “Elky” Grospellier, Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib and Tony Dunst.
I found an isolated spot by the canal under a tree and between getting pins and needles throughout the entire lower half of my body, being brutally assaulted by dozens of insects and getting caught in the rain I managed to finish it. Didn’t someone say the poker lifestyle was glamorous?
I bump into poker players who say you can’t learn poker from books and that they’ve never bothered reading one. These people are for the most part idiots. Either they can’t be bothered reading a book or they’re too arrogant to accept that another poker player knows something they don’t and are thus a better player than them.
Even pros who’ve earned millions can find a new way of looking at things or a new move they can use in a specific situation by taking a look at some of the literature out there. Why do you think Doyle Brunson’s Super System was written by a team of pros rather than just the legend himself? Unless you are fortunate enough to have a ring of friends who are all professionals pick up some of their books.
Now I’m not saying that an amateur player can read a book, show up to the tables and felt Phil Helmuth with an amazing river hero call that leaves him speechless. But any player can glean some insight into weaker aspects of his game by taking advice from another player who is stronger in that area.
For example I doubt there are many players out there who can match Dan Harrington’s hand analysis skills. I know Action Dan’s books get mentioned a lot whenever poker books get talked about and there’s a reason for that; they’re awesome. Even though the game has evolved quite a bit in the six years since his last tournament book was released the fundamentals he discusses are strategically sound and clearly presented.
Harrington on Hold‘em volumes 1,2 and 3 are a fantastic starting point if you’ve never picked up a poker book but have some experience playing in your friendly home game or local casino. Within his first two books Harrington discusses many concepts in depth, such as the gap concept, squeeze plays, inflection points, shorthanded play, heads up play, satellite strategy and many others. Volume 3 has a different format in that it is presented as a workbook with many hand examples that allow you to give yourself a score based on how well you play each given hand.
Oh yeah, I should probably review the book I just finished too. Elky et al have compiled a really fascinating book The Raiser’s Edge (Old school wrestling fans will appreciate that title). They cover a wide range of concepts such as equilibrium solutions to 3- and 4-betting, pot control, monitoring your image, bluffing, mid-stage play, final table play and a hell of a lot more.
It’s definitely a book I intend to read again as there is so much to take in I’ve probably not absorbed it all. Suffice it to say this book is not for beginners, the concepts are pretty advanced and there is some very impressive mathematical analysis involved here too. I highly recommend this book but only if you have already read two or three other poker books and have quite a bit of experience behind you.
As a side point I wouldn’t read an entire book in one sitting, I would make a point of playing some poker every few chapters to apply any newly learnt strategies and thus integrate them gradually into your game. I intend to write another article in the next few months reviewing some more books depending on how much reading I get done.
For now I’m going to go play the £50+£6 game and try and apply some of what Elky and co have just taught me. In 2 weeks it’s the EPT Barcelona and I fully intend next month’s article to be all about how I won an EPT event. Here’s hoping…