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Best of Howard Schwartz

Gaming Guru

 

"Rules of Poker" essential work; Shulman's "No-Limit" primer helpful

8 December 2006

In the old days, back in the 1870s when Wyatt Earp and Wild Bill Hickok were at the poker table and a dispute broke out, a six-gun more often than not decided who was right. More than a century later, arguments at the green felt table involving hold'em or any other game are ruled on by knowledgeable card room personnel -- less blood on the wall, fewer bullet holes. Yet arguments still exist over points such as the use of cell phones at the table, asking for a new deck, the way a bet is called or raised and what happens if a deck is "fouled" (an example would be duplicate cards showing on a the flop).

Lou Krieger and Sheree Bykofsky have written a solid, must-read (by house and players) guide titled "The Rules of Poker: Essentials for Every Game" (276 pages, hard bound, $13.95), which should help reduce stress and help settle arguments everywhere, from home poker games to the biggest cash games or tournaments. One great strength of the book is that actual situations are re-created by players and dealers. This may help explain how important a good dealer and solid, understanding card room management earn their keep and what pressures they face each day.

There are many major parts to the book: The House, General Rights and Procedures; The House: Game-Play Management; Player Conduct, Etiquette and Integrity; The Deck and Cards; Betting Structures. These are followed by Rules of the Games including major material on Hold 'em and Omaha plus Pineapple, Crazy Pineapple and Tahoe; Stud games; Split games; Razz; Five Stud; Mississippi Seven Card Stud; Draw and Lowball; California Lowball; Deuce to Seven Triple Draw; Ace to Five Triple Draw. There's a major section on tournaments including rules, plus coverage of cash games; side pots, exposing cards with action pending, English-only rule, keeping chips visible, and penalties for infractions, re-buy tournaments. A final, small but fascinating section discusses rules the authors would like to see changed including short buy-ins, triggering kill pots, asking to see called hands and the always controversial "f-word rule."

This is a pocket-sized or palm-sized book (which makes it a good stocking stuffer) so it's easy to keep in a jacket pocket. It contains a 12-page index. The authors wrote the book to offer players and management to see what's fair, what's best for a variety of situations and what "makes for honest and equitable procedures in managing and playing the game." There are Interpretation Notes scattered throughout the book-helpful in explaining and illuminating procedures-a sort of rationale to help clarify.

Consider this one of the most important and powerful books ever for anyone who loves the game as a player, dealer or overseer.

Barry Shulman's "52 Tips for No-Limit Texas Hold 'em Poker" (135 pages, paperbound, $14.99) is a follow-up to his original 52 Tips For Texas Hold'em Poker published in 2005. The book includes an explanation of terms; a chart showing your approximate post-flop drawing chances including number of "outs" and many illustrations of hands. This is a good quick reference for those who need help in specific areas or a lot of help overall. Examples: When to check-call; spotting bluffs, playing from the blinds, raising with draws, playing ace-king or pocket aces, avoiding trouble hands in tournaments, avoiding tilt, stealing blinds in tournaments, when to set traps, and knowing your own weak tendencies.

If this book helps you in one or more situations, it's paid for itself. Easy reading, larger print, a good gift item for any level player.

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