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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

Odds and Stats Help Make Odds and Ends Meet

5 April 2006


Depending on how deadly resolute you are and your level of play, odds on making various poker hands can be as serious as life or death. A new book by a writer named Catalin Barboianu titled Texas Hold 'Em Odds (143 pages, paperbound $29) is directed to those who are fascinated with gambling probability; who already the plays the game or who are programmers who want to create odds generating software.

This arrived at Gambler¹s Book Shop along with a fine beginner's book by Byron Jacobs, Beginner's Guide to Limit Hold'em (272 pages, paperbound, $19.95).

Meanwhile, a very timely annual for horseplayers from brisnet.com titled Maiden Stats (750 pages, paperbound, $99.95) has is also available, just in time for some of the biggest race meets of the year.

Let's look at each work and its value to a gambler:

Barboianu, (whose credentials I am unaware of, since the book offers no biographical or background information about the author), presents information in three major sections: "Own Hand Probabilities," the chance of getting every hand with either three or four cards on the table; to "Opponents' Hands Probabilities" three four or five cards on the table and "Immediate Odds" including preflop odds; flop odds; turn odds and other odds. Barboianu explains "the probability formulas and results corresponding to each specific card formation to be achieved are presented in double form; algorithm and table of values." The author adds that the guide is focused on so called "longshot" odds (probabilities of events that are chronologically preceded by others, calculated by using information of that moment before the first event).

Packed with tables, charts and formulas, Texas Hold'em Odds is perfect for those looking for a mathematical edge along while understanding the importance of position, bluffing and "playing the player." I just wish I knew who the author was and whether he plays.

Author Byron Jacobs, a regular columnist for Card Player magazine, also wrote How Good Is Your Limit Hold'em. Jacobs' newest work, Beginner's Guide to Hold'em, contains 11 major chapters, is well illustrated with sample hands and situations, and is geared to novices.

The first four chapters are basic, describing the hand rankings and explaining how the game is played. Sections which follow concentrate on how hands can develop including focusing on outs, implied odds and pot odds. That¹s followed by Pre-Flop Play, including small cards; pairs and non-pairs; playing from the blinds.

Jacobs gets rolling with specific strategies in pre-flop play with discussions on playing pairs, unpaired high cards and speculative hands. He moves to the importance of position; playing strong draw; slowplaying and river play.

Overall, a fine beginner's book, written clearly, with end-of-book exercises to fine tune what he's taught you in earlier chapters.

Horseplayers who realize Maiden Stats 2006's value only have to know the book has arrived, because they know how to use it immediately. The work focuses on more than two dozen types of statistics on nearly every foal born in 2004 which will race this year, with listings by Sire, Dam, Top Sibling and Yearly Sales information. It should help evaluating maiden, turf and off-track races. It is divided into two sections.

The first section is in alphabetical format; the second contains all unnamed 2-year-olds as of Feb. 2006, alphabetically indexed by dams.

You'll be able to spot which sires produce mudders; turf runners; the number of starters the sire has produced and the number of winners produced; plus the percentage of first time starter winners produced. (A sire with 15% or more first time starter winners is typically considered a strong candidate to win their first start.)

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