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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Basketball Workbook -- Perfect for College Bettors; Kill Phil on Poker

2 November 2005


College basketball, loved by many as a most bettable sport because linemakers often err with their numbers (so many teams, so little time to evaluate results) begins in November and ends in March. The serious bettor keeps records, watches for streaks and the fatigue factors, key conference matchups and the ever-present rankings pressure and for other situations where upsets are possible. For all that, the handicapper needs record-keeping discipline. To help begin, develop and maintain that discipline RME Sports Investments has come up with a key tool in the form of the 2005-06 NCAA Basketball Workbook (233 pages, 8x11 plastic spiralbound, $25.00).

From Air Force to Youngstown State, the book presents 232 teams in an easy-to-use, time-saving workbook, with room to keep track of opening and closing lines, the totals number (should one exist), the final score, if the team wins straight up or against the spread plus if the game goes over or under.

Obviously due to weather; television commitments or the lure of more money if a game is on TV or changed to better time slot, college basketball schedules, are subject to change. With that in mind, the compiler of the work also provides each team's web site so you can check for any player or schedule changes, listed with the summary of how a team did last year at home or away against the line, as a favorite or dog, against conference teams after a straight up win or loss or after covering or failing to cover. Example, Duke was 19-13 against the line overall last year; 6-3 against the line on the road; covered the only three times it was a dog.

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 (275 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.

Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com
Howard Schwartz
Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

Howard Schwartz Websites:

www.gamblersbook.com