Thursday, November 11, 2004

Review of Internet Texas Hold 'Em by Matthew Hilger

Internet Texas Hold 'Em by Matthew Hilger

I have to say that I was pretty impressed by this book overall. I got it as a free signup promotion from an online site and basically chose it completely blind, having already read the other books they were offering.

In many ways it's your typical Texas hold 'em strategy book, covering starting hand selection, play on various streets, bluffing, semi-bluffing, bankroll management, you name it. While on the surface it's structured to be a complete guide for utter newbies that have never played a hand, I imagine you'd be a bit lost if you were brand new to poker, as it segues pretty quickly into fairly advanced concepts. That said, you'll be a little bored at the beginning if you've already got a good handle on hold 'em and have read other poker strategy books.

Hilger deals with limits from .50/1 to 20/40 and above. Unlike Small Stakes Hold 'em, he doesn't really advocate a different approach for different limits. He's pretty much in line with SSH as far as recommended starting hands and advocates a fairly aggressive approach, maybe a smidge less than Miller/Sklansky but definitely in the same ballpark.

His writing style is pretty straightforward and clear, which is a welcome change from the stilted Sklansky-speak most of us have had to wade through. Hilger doesn't avoid the issue of pot odds, implied odds, and assorted maths, but he also doesn't drone on and on about mathematical concepts, choosing instead to spend much more time on illustrative real-world hand examples, which for me was by far the most valuable part of the book.

While most poker strategy books include illustrative hands, Hilger really uses the concept to great advantage. Each section of the book ends with pages of quiz-type hand examples, where you have to choose the correct play based on the information learned in the chapter.

What's cool (and valuable) is that he includes 12 examples for each chapter, and drills down to specific chapters. So instead of a few examples of river play, turn play, etc., you got tons of hand examples and quizes for specific topics such as correctly playing straight draws, overcards, two pair, nut hands, etc. Maybe I'm just a visually-oriented monkey, but that approach of introducing a concept and immediately following it with multiple real-world examples was much, much more effective than simply reading about why I should raise with overcards on the button with a ragged board in a small pot, blah blah blah. He also doesn't bother with graphical representations of cards in hand examples, something I greatly appreciated as that's always seemed pretty unnecessary and a waste of page space to me.

My largest complaint is that the title should simply be "Texas Hold 'Em", as there's really Internet-centric about the book. He makes a few swipes at it by including really brief chapters on online tells and online bonus promotions, but don't expect anything at all meaty as far as the aspect of online play. It's just a hold 'em strategy book, plain and simple.

All in all, it's definitely a worthwhile read. It's a bit pricy but not overly so. If you're regularly crushing 5/10 and a master of aggression, well, there's probably nothing new here for you. But for anyone else, especially people looking to improve their game and move up the limit ladder, this book is well worth your time.

1 comment:

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