The Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide: Tournament Edition, edited by Michael Craig
If you want a massive and detailed guide on poker strategy, I can scarcely think of a larger or more appropriate volume than this one, although my own knowledge of various poker tournament games is somewhat limited. I played some stud and draw poker varieties as a child (because for some reason I grew up around a lot of gamblers, I suppose, among my neighbors) and during my young adulthood and since then I have been familiar and at least somewhat competent at no-limit Texas Hold ’em. That said, the people writing this book–and there are a lot of them–are professionals who value the cross-training opportunities one gains through mastering a wide variety of poker styles that have their own different rules and different insights that can make one a frighteningly able all-around player capable of being in the money in a variety of ways. It is worthwhile to note that this book of more than 400 pages benefits from a wide variety of entertaining and knowledgeable writers that includes Andy Bloch, Richard Brodie, Chris Ferguson, Ted Forrest, Rafe Furst, Phil Gordon (author of some poker volumes of his own), David Grey, Howard Lederer, Mike Matusow, Huckleberry Seed, Keith Sexton, and Gavin Smith, most of whom are quite entertaining in their various essays.
This particular volume begins with a couple of introductions, one of them by Phil Gordon on the passion to be the best, and the other by the editor on the role of books in poker, all of which seek to encourage the reader in developing one’s skills in various forms of poker. The next part focuses on tournament hold ’em, the most popular variety of poker in the contemporary United States. Various essays here discuss how to bet (3), the theory of leverage (4), how (not) to play like Ted Forrest (5), play before the flop (6), play after the flop (7), big-stack (8) and short-stack (9) play, online tournament strategy (10), pot-limit hold ’em (11), and limit hold ’em (12). A couple of essays help the reader in playing Tournament Omaha, in eight-or-better (13) or pot-limit (14) varieties. A few essays encourage the reader to develop skills in Tournament stud poker as well, including seven card hands (15) and strategy (16), stud eight-or-better (17), and the much maligned razz (18), followed by concluding words on the relationship between roshambo and the mental game of poker (19) and a few words about the various writers in the book as well as a short acknowledgments section by the editor.
What insights does one gain from a book like this? For one, the authors and editor have in mind that the reader is going to at least be playing for the money in a wide variety of poker tournaments and be able to have some sensible strategies for how to deal with the many distinctive varieties of poker that exist. Some varieties of poker, like Omaha, involve high-low play where the pot is divided based on who has either the highest or lowest cards, which requires a different level of thinking of what hands are the best. In other situations, pot limits prevent one from swooping in and buying hands and involve a fair amount of stand-up play given much lower pot-commitment on the part of players. And so it goes, as these writers demonstrate a strong interest in the mathematics, the nuances of rules and how they affect strategy, as well as the psychological elements of playing and the awareness of other players that allows someone to gain intuitive advantages in how to play successfully. All of this makes for a compelling guide, if a very long one.