Lou Krieger Wins Binion's Author's Challenge

Poker Author Lou KriegerWhile we all sit here and try to decide if the sky is actually falling on Internet poker or not, there is still some real live B&M poker happening out there, including the Poker Author's challenge at Binion's.

It sounded like a lot of fun, and made me wish I'd collected all my WSOP writings from last year and put them into book form, so I could face off against John Vorhaus (whose homegame I donk around in regularly -- incidentally, even if you can't find the sucker, and therefore know you're the sucker, you're still the sucker) and other guys like Richard Sparks (Diary of a Mad Poker Player), Charlie Shoten (No Limit Life) and everyone's favorite author / blogger, Lou Krieger.

The tourney went off this weekend, and Lou Krieger emerged victorious. This pleases me greatly, because Lou is a great guy, a great friend to all poker bloggers everywhere, and has been a voice of reason throughout what I'm just going to call "the recent unpleasantness."

Lou has all the details of his championship run, in true self-effacing form, at his blog.

The Book of Bluffs

I recently completed reading The Book of Bluffs by Matt Lessinger. Having already read all of the major poker books, in most cases several times each, I have long since moved to some of the more fringe, less well known poker texts out there in my never ending search for poker wisdom. This quest to absorb the poker knowledge of "the greats" has led me recently to books like Online Ace by Scott Fischman, and even some of David Sklansky's later works, that despite promising myself after The Theory of Poker and Sklansky's section in the original Super System that I would never again subject myself to his consistent talking-down to his readers and his thankless attitude towards others' poker abilities. The Book of Bluffs fits neatly into this category of lesser-known poker books, but I got a recommendation on the book from someone I trust from among my fake internet poker friends, and I am happy to report that I'm very glad to have followed this recommendation.

In the end, The Book of Bluffs did not change my poker life in the way that some other books clearly have. I did not emerge from reading this book an entirely new aggro-minded machine like I did after the first time(s) I pored through Super System. I was not a no-limit tournament specialist, talking about Ms and Qs and the like, like I was after I finished Harrington on Holdem - Volume 2. However, what Lessinger does manage to do in The Book of Bluffs is, quite simply, to review a whole array of different types of bluffs that arise during typical no-limit holdem situations. The author has developed a very helpful rating system for each type of bluff, that describes how likely it is to be successful, how frequently one can expect this bluff to work, and the degree of difficulty in pulling off each specific type of bluff. Lessinger also goes on to describe exactly how and when is optimal to try each kind of bluff, and exactly how to run each bluff from start to finish.

The Book of Bluffs starts off by highlighting some basic bluffs most of us know about and have run on other players from time to time in the past, in particular the aggro types who tend to populate the weekly blogger tournaments by and large. This includes obvious moves like open-raising from the button in an attempt to steal the blinds before the flop, and similar moves. But the book goes on to cover more advanced kinds of bluffs that may not have even been conceived of by many of the less aggressive, less experienced poker players out there, moves that require a specific set of circumstances and a good solid read of weakness in your opponent, etc. After reviewing and rating 40-50 different kinds of bluffs in the ways described above, the last part of The Book of Bluffs describes in detail some of the biggest bluffs, on the largest scale, ever run in big situations, the context and reasoning behind the players who made such moves, and some of the other elements of these bluffs in a way that is very interesting and enlightening to the reader.

The thing I like most about The Book of Bluffs is that it can be very useful to many poker players, regardless of one's particular style of play or level of experience in poker. For example, for players who have the basics down but are looking for ways to become more aggressive, Lessinger has provided in this book the pathway for such players to learn to do just that, including the How, the When and the Why of running a whole gamut of bluffs that such a player might not have considered previously. Similarly, for players who are already well-versed in the advantages of aggressive poker play, some of the more advanced bluffs profiled in the book are sure to be much-appreciated tools added to such players' arsenal of weapons at the poker table. There is even a section dedicated solely to bluffs that work best in online play, if that's your kind of thing.

Overall, Matt Lessinger's writing style is light, free of the pomp and circumstance of mnay noted poker authors like Sklansky and Hellmuth. And his book is written in a very readable, organized and useful way, one that can be useful for both new and experienced, aggressive and passive type of players. Regardless of most players' personal styles and poker experience, for people looking to learn and practice the How, When and Why to bluff, The Book of Bluffs can help readers to reach that goal.

Book Alert: Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 World Champion of Poker, has joined the poker author bandwagon with the release of his book: Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker. Due to all kinds of legal disclaimers I can't copy it here, but if you would like to read an excerpt from the book you can visit this link to  HarperCollins.com.

I haven't read this book yet personally, but if you have drop us a line and let us know what you thought of it.

REVIEW: Phil Gordon's Little Green Book of Poker

Though he'd finished fourth in the 2001 WSOP Main Event, 3rd in the 2002 WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha Event, and won the 2004 Bay 101 Shooting Stars event,  most poker aficionados know Phil Gordon as the co-host of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown.

Phil is the rare combination of brilliant expert and gifted teacher, and his commentary on Celebrity Poker Showdown made what could have been a laughable donkfest into a valuable learning experience for just about every person who watched it. Now that he's off the show, I'll be surprised if it will be very watchable.

During the 2005 WPT Championship at Bellagio, I had the great fortune of spending some time with Phil -- not at the same table, thank gods -- and he really helped me a lot. Before I knew the concept of M and Q, Phil helped me get a basic understanding of where I should be and how desperate (or not) I should be to accumulate chips, by talking with me during every break. I'm sure I was a stupid noob quasi-tourist with retarded questions, but Phil never once made me feel like I was some jerk bothering him while he was in an important tourney (and let's face it, of the two of us he's the guy with a real chance at winning the thing.)

We had dinner together at the end of the first day, and Phil gave me a bit of a lesson while we ate. When we were done, he told me that he was working on a little book that would compile lots of useful information from existing works by Caro and Sklansky, filtered through and expanded upon by Phil's personal experience. He was particularly excited about the tournament chapter, and all the math he'd done to figure out very reliably how often players needed to steal blinds, and make moves to survive into the deeper levels of play. He graciously offered to e-mail me a copy of the manuscript so I could read it over later that night, and it significantly helped my game.

The book, of course, became Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em. It's not surprising that he wrote a book that was useful and helpful -- after all, he's one of the greats -- but the true hallmark of a poker book, in my opinion, is how useful it is to me as my game grows and develops. There are books like Caro's Fundamentals to Winning Poker that were great when I was learning, but aren't very useful now, and there are books like Theory of Poker that I may as well have been written in hieroglyphics when I was starting out, but are frequently reviewed these days. Phil's book is rare indeed: it remains relevant and helpful as your skill level increases. It will reinforce your good plays, and help you make fewer bad ones, and since it's literally a little book, it's easy to toss into your bag and keep close by for quick reference when you're fadin' the white line, Tex.

Continue reading REVIEW: Phil Gordon's Little Green Book of Poker

New from Lou Krieger: Secrets the Pros Won't Tell You About Winning Hold'em Poker

Lou Krieger is no stranger to anyone who reads this site, because it seems like Derek and I are constantly citing him as a useful and credible source of information on all sorts of stories.

But Lou does more than keep a great blog and kick asses at the poker table; he's also an author, and his books Hold'Em Excellence: From Beginner to Winner and its follow up More Hold'Em Excellence: A Winner for Life are extremely useful and entertaining reading for beginning to intermediate players.

Lou's most recent book, Secrets The Pros Won't Tell You About Winning Hold'Em Poker is written for players who want to make the move from recreational to serious player. It's sure to be written in Lou's accessible, entertaining, and easy to digest style.

Lou says, "Serious players are always looking for an edge. Moreover, the newer breed of poker player, those weaned on Internet poker sites and games in college dorms, are a studious breed. They're readers, computer literate, and many spend a significant amount of time harnessing their computers' capabilities to test poker theories-quite a departure from the old, back-room image of a cigar chewing gambler who never read anything that wasn't found in the racing form.

Secrets the Pros Won't Tell You About Winning Hold'em Poker aims to turn you into professional-level players while enjoying an easy and fun read. Each of the concepts and playing strategies in this book is discussed and organized as part of a few broad themes: Basic Concepts and Play, Tactics, Strategies and Ploys, Image, Money, Minimal Math, Tournament Play, Playing, and Growing as a Player."

Lou has much more to say about his newest book at his blog. You can check it out by following the link below.

Andy Beal Takes Ten Million From The Corporation

A few weeks ago, Derek reported that Andy Beal had returned to Las Vegas to face The Corporation in a repeat of the epic heads-up battle detailed in Michael Craig's outstanding book The Professor, The Banker, and The Suicide King. After an initial loss of about two million dollars, Andy reportedly retired from the game, then instantly pulled a Michael Jordan and came out of retirement to continue the match.

This game will take its place in history next to the first World Series of Poker in 1970, Nick the Greek and Johnny Moss's famous marathon "Mr. Moss, I have to let you go" game, and Doyle Brunson's back-to-back WSOP wins in 1976 and 1977. Indeed, Andy Beal will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best non-professional poker players in history.

Throughout this incredible series of matches, Lou Krieger has been a reliable source for just-off-the-rail information, offering interesting and informative insight, based upon his decades of poker experience, at his blog. This morning, Lou wrote that Andy is back in Texas, after winning ten million dollars from The Corporation, a group of players which includes Todd Brunson, Jen Harman, and Ted Forrest.

Michael Craig is a friend of mine, and I knew that he had been sitting at the table with the players the whole time, so I called him up to see if he could confirm the amount.

Michael is writing a huge feature article about the game for BLUFF magazine's April issue, so there isn't much he can talk about on the record, but he was able to confirm that Andy did, in fact, win ten million dollars between February 12 and February 15. Since Andy had lost three million dollars on Superbowl Sunday, he left Vegas seven million dollars -- or about 70 big bets -- to the good.

Michael was also able to share a few tantilizing glimpses into the game, which I can pass on to CardSquad readers: Though the stakes were high, he told me, "Both sides respect each other, that's clear, but the games were played in a surprisingly casual atmosphere, marked by jokes, small talk and camaraderie. It's not what you'd expect from such a big game. A player could lose a million dollars on a two-outer and shrug it off, but the competition was always deadly serious."

As the game wore on, Michael told me, he felt like neither side wanted to be there, but neither side wanted to be the first to quit. During a break on one particularly intense day, Andy Beal and Ted Forrest independently told Michael, "This is a war."

Anyone who has read Michael's best-selling book knows that the money means absolutely nothing to Andy, who is out to prove that he could beat some of poker's best at their own game. The numbers may say that he succeeded, but the numbers are only part of the story. Michael and the players know the rest, and in April, so will we.


Pocket Idiot's Guide to Poker Tells

Andy Bloch, along with Bobbi Dempsey, have released a new book titled: Pocket Idiot's Guide to Poker Tells. Though I haven't read it yet, if Andy Bloch is involved I am sure it is worth more than the SRP of $9.95 - especially to an amateur player. The review on Amazon.com describes the book as follows:

The world’s best poker players can read their opponents’ most subtle expressions and behaviors—no matter how hard their opponents try to hide them. A tapping foot, a change in vocal tone, and countless other clues "tell" an informed player what cards the opponent is holding and how they’re likely to be played. The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Poker Tells explains everything amateur poker players need to start interpreting tells and using them to develop poker intuition.

Andy Bloch is a professional poker player, represents Full Tilt Poker, and was a part of the infamous MIT Blackjack Team. If you get a chance to read this book, let us know how it is.

Andy Beal Returns to Las Vegas?

The open challenge between Andy Beal and the Corporation might finally go down tonight. John Caldwell and Poker News have reported that the Dallas billionaire banker is heading to Las Vegas to take on Doyle Brunson and his high stakes crew.

The Professor, the Banker, and Suicide King
is a great book that documents some of the history between Andy and the Corporation.

Poker News mentions that tonight’s private game will take place somewhere at the Wynn Casino. The limits are $100,000/$200,000 and Todd Brunson is supposedly playing against Andy first. Wow!!


Continue reading Andy Beal Returns to Las Vegas?

QUICK REVIEW: Bringing Down The House

Bringing Down The House CoverWith the recent outbreak of blackjack fever hitting around these parts, I thought I'd share my thoughts on blackjack's answer to The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King. So you can all relax, I'm talking about Ben Mezrich's awesome 2003 book about the MIT Blackjack team, not the Queen Latifah/Steve Martin, uh, comedy.

"I try to control my breathing as I stroll through Logan International Airport. Terminal C is buzzing and chaotic, an over-air-conditioned hive of college students escaping Boston for a long weekend. I am dressed like everyone else: baggy jeans, baseball hat, scuffed sneakers. But in my mind, I have as much chance of blending in as a radioactive circus clown. There's enough money hidden under my clothes to buy a two-bedroom condo. And to top it off, there's $100,000 worth of yellow plastic casino chips jammed into the backpack slung over my right shoulder."

From the first page, you know that you're in for a hell of a ride. Ben Mezrich takes you inside that world we all dream of visiting when we go to Vegas: The Rainman Suite, High-Class Strippers and Call Girls, hundreds of thousands of dollars thrown around like white chips during Chowaha at BARGE, and the thrill of not just winning, but consistently winning big.

Bringing Down The House is a great and quick read. It achieves the perfect balance of geekery, intrigue, and excitement, and will make even the most dedicated non-blackjack-playing poker grinder want to try counting their way to a big rack of chips.

Poker Pro
Andy Bloch is one of the more well-known former members of the team, and when I discussed the book with him at last year's WPT Celebrity Invitational at Commerce, he told me and Poker Geek that he was pretty unhappy with the book, because it only told one particular version of one particular story. Poker Geek and I encouraged him to write and sell his own story, because, seriously, man. (Seriously, man, while often working with great success on me and my friends, failed to work with Andy. We'll try Dude!  and its variant, dude, seriously, next time we see him.)

There's a great excerpt from the book in WIRED 10.09 called Hacking Vegas. If you're not racing out to buy the book after you've read it . . . well, that's just one more thing we don't have in common.

Bringing Down the House
is now out in paperback, and there's a movie script in development. Ben's newest book, which I have but haven't read yet, is called Breaking Vegas.

Traits of Winning Poker Players

In his book Ace on the River, Barry Greenstein went into detail answering the question What character qualities separate winners from losers? He even listed 25 characteristics that are common in most winning poker players.

Several of these traits contradict the others (see below). Obviously the best players in the world do not have every single trait, but they do possess most of them.

The two traits that I think are the most invaluable are psychological toughness and the ability to think under pressure. Those are qualities that books can't teach you.

Continue reading Traits of Winning Poker Players

Lou Krieger's Blog

One of my favorite poker blogs to read is from poker pro and author Lou Krieger. He recently sounded off on a few items such as whether or not poker is in a decline or still reaching new heights.

He also discusses the celebrity factor of himself and others in the poker community. And probably his most interesting post is about knowing your opponents' playing style and deciding if you should call or not call when you know someone is bluffing.

Continue reading Lou Krieger's Blog

Annie Duke Book Review

I recently saw a great review of Annie Duke: How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions. I got the book as a Christmas present, but have not read it yet. Based on the review from Nick Christenson from Poker Player Newspaper, I can't wait to set aside some time to read it.

Annie Duke is one of the most recognizable if not best female poker players of all time. She's also not just Howard Lederer's sister. She's often considered as one of the best players around period, especially after her victory in the first Tournament of Champions where she outlasted some of the best players in the world including Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, and her brother.

Continue reading Annie Duke Book Review

Lou Krieger's Book Reviews

lou Lou Krieger posted a review of two books: The Illustrated Guide to Texas Hold'em by Dennis Purdy and Machiavellian Poker Strategy by David Apostolico.

I tend to trust Lou's opinion on poker books since Lou is one of my favorite poker authors. He also has a blog that I love to read. You should bookmark his site and give it a look.

Lou said that Purdy's book "The Illustrated Guide to Texas Hold'em" was a good complement to other beginner's books, including his own!

It's set up as a workbook and Purdy discusses 150 real life situations. Lou liked the writing and especially enjoyed the illustrations. He gave it his stamp of approval when he said that it's a "must have" addition to your poker library.

Continue reading Lou Krieger's Book Reviews

Book Review: Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 1 - Part 2

harrington coverThis is Part 2 of my review of Dan Harrington's book Harrington on Hold'em Vol 1. To read Part One click here.

Harrington's book is divided into seven sections. I already mentioned the first two in my previous post. In Part Three, Harrington talks about the importance of reading your table effectively.

Whenever I play in a live game or at a casino, I'm always looking for physical tells and using my opponents' betting patterns to gain information on the other players at the table.

Part Four has some heavy math content and Harrington discusses pot odds, expressed odds, and implied odds. He also shows mathematically challenged people how to calculate pot odds!

Continue reading Book Review: Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 1 - Part 2

Book Review: Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 1

Action DanI recently reread Dan Harrington's book and decided to review it for a two-part series. Some of the things I learned have already helped improve my tournament play.

The former 1995 WSOP Champion collaborated with renowned backgammon author Bill Robertie on Harrington on Hold'em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments Volume 1.

It's the first book in a two volume set on No Limit tournaments. In the last three years, Harrington has made the final table of the $10,000 WSOP main event on two occasions and in October, he came in second place at the Doyle Brunson North American Classic at the Bellagio.

This book is not for beginner poker players. It discusses some pretty advanced topics. However, if you have a firm grasp of poker but have not played in too many tournaments, then Harrington's book can help you become a more solid tournament player.

Dan Harrington's tournament resume is impressive and he draws upon his many experiences which makes his book one of my favorites. Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 1 is divided into seven sections. The second part of each section is called "The Problems," where he illustrates the concepts that he discussed in each chapter.

Continue reading Book Review: Harrington on Hold'em Vol. 1

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