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Gaming Guru

 

Harrington on Hold 'em Red Hot; Beyond Tells Takes Mental Approach

17 June 2005

World Series of Poker Champion (1995) Dan Harrington has done it again. The classy, consistent tournament player's latest book, Harrington on Hold'em--Volume 2, The Endgame (450 pages, paperbound, $29.95) has arrived at Gambler's Book Shop as has Beyond Tells (Power Poker Psychology) by James McKenna (253 pages, paperbound, $15.95).

Harrington's first book, Volume 1 Strategic Play was a huge hit and the second (by a way, a third is planned for next year) became the hottest read for serious players virtually overnight. In this work, co-authored by Bill Robertie, a world class chess and backgammon player, the focus is on making moves like bluffing and bluffing pre-flop; moves called the squeeze play; back-alley mugging; slow-playing before and after the flop; adapting to styles and moves while becoming aggressive or conservative.

With simple, short sentences for the most part, the authors offer problems, solution, rationale, examples, clearly, decisively.

Chapters titled Inflection Points and Multiple Inflection Points examine how the strategy for proper play changes as your stack shrinks in relation to the blinds. "Be advised that playing around inflection points is the most important single skill of no-limit hold'em tournaments," the authors emphasize. There is discussion of "... the ratio of your stack to the current total of blinds and antes. This number is crucial, and you must develop a facility for calculating it quickly and easily at a table," they emphasize.

This is truly a book for those good players who want to make the quantum jump to excellent. It must be studied, highlighted, incorporated into your playing style at the earliest opportunity.

The section on Heads-Up Play may be one of the most important in the book. When you get down to it, the difference between winning and losing could be millions. A frightening thought--one false move, one miscalculation worth a fortune.

I can truly understand why so many people wanted to read this book as soon as possible with big tournament action going on. If any book offers one time-saving, money-saving tip, it has accomplished its task and paid for itself.

This book tells you how to get the money.

James McKenna is a psychologist who plays poker and writes about it.

His book, Beyond Tells is designed to help players anticipate opponent behavior by analyzing their physical and mental approaches to the game. There have been other books on the subject, including Caro's Book of Poker Tells (Mike Caro); The Psychology of Poker (Alan Schoonmaker); Inside the Poker Mind (John Feeney) and Poker, Sex & Dying (Juel Anderson).

The Missouri-based McKenna says "There's nothing new about most things in life. What is new is learning new perspectives to understand what has always been there.

The book contains 11 chapters, with illustrated examples. McKenna has some interesting things to say about what people say and what they actually mean. One section titled Common Poker Gab is worth remembering because it may be an accidental verbal tip-off to what a player is holding. For example, McKenna says if a player announces "I'll let you have it this time," it usually means the player is throwing a bad hand away anyway.

How people keep their chips in front of them ("nesting" like eggs) is a good indicator of the type of player they are--the spontaneous player will have an unorganized pile of chips; the player is a "loose" bettor, McKenna says.

Throughout the book there are "detection" lessons. How do you identify different types of players? What they seem to say; how they appear to act; what their body language tells you during and after play may help you correctly react to what they do against you when money is at stake is valuable information.

McKenna's book makes you think, focus, on your own potential tells and the art of picking them up from others. I wish the photos of people acting or reacting in a game were sharper, but maybe that's nitpicking (the photos in Caro's tells book were also shadowy in ways).

But for someone who's not read anything about body language, McKenna's book will be helpful. Once again, if this book or any book helps improve your game, saves you from making a bad bet or a bad call, then it has paid for itself and done its duty.

Harrington on Hold 'em Red Hot; Beyond Tells Takes Mental Approach is republished from Online.CasinoCity.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
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