Hold’em Poker by David Sklansky

Hold’Em Poker by David Sklansky

Hold \'Em Poker

I received an observation today that the beginning poker player can be easily confused by discussions which can quickly degenerate into what sound like jargon-filled babble-fests. Well, any sub-culture is going to have it’s own jargon that’s incomprehensible, and poker is a less serious offender than the norm. I challenge the uninitiated to listen to a skateboard/snowboard/surf competition and listen to the commentators rattle off the names of the moves without cracking a smile. Quite frankly, it makes me giggle like a little girl. Much like the thought of me giggling like a little girl makes me … No, that way lies madness.

Hold’Em Poker isn’t a book on jargon, it’s a book about actually playing the game. The opening “Getting Started” section very simply allows the reader to ride along as some Hold’em hands are dealt out. Remember the axiom that it’s best to learn by doing? Well this ride-along is the next-best thing. The next sections go back and guide the player along the path of good hand selection and flops which work with the various hands. The strategy section patiently and simply explains all of the possible moves that can be made in the game, along with what situations the reader would want to use them in. Hand reading, the next section, is a terrific beginning explanation to a difficult subject. Most beginning player won’t have put even a tiny fraction of the thought described here. In closing, the author tries to make the idea of probability math relevant to the game described in the previous sections.

The target audience here is definitely the beginning player. The book is noticeably light on math, even in the odds and probability sections. No discussion of expectation takes place. Neither of these things make this a bad book, but they do limit the book to the beginning player.

Which brings me to a critique. The amount of value a player can extract from this book isn’t that high for any serious student of the game. This might be counter-intuitive, but there is a lot of value to the book for those who aren’t serious students, or aren’t students of the game at all. Anyone who playes a nickel-dime game will be better off reading this book. The average player depositing $50 or more to play $0.50/$1 online needs more than this book provides.

There’s a fine line between technical descriptions and jargon. I assure you that after a few read-throughs, the majority of the technical language won’t sound like gibberish. Readers will be able to smoothly discuss fourth-street check-raises and trapping slowplays with the best of them. I challenge you to find any skateboarding book which can get me discussing the ollie to fakey trick. Not that I would. Read a book about skateboarding, that is.

The best thing about this book is that it will actually teach beginning players to play better poker.

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