David Sklansky's Holdem for Advanced Players

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Holdem for Advanced players by David Sklansky is one of the most important books about the game.


I`m running out of good things to say about David Sklansky (and his right hand man Mason Malmuth). These guys are almost without peer as gambling (especially poker) theorists. Not surprisngly, Holdem for Advanced Players is one of the definitive books on Holdem.

Part One is basically a crash course in how to play in relatively tough (by low limit standards) games. It`s more than just a guide to starting hands (although that`s probably worth the price of admissions by itself).

Part Two introduces a lot of important concepts like semi-bluffing and also covers some common situations (like how to play the river when it`s heads-up).

Part Three is called Miscelaneous Topics, and is a grab-bag of situational advice. Unless you`re a poker prodigy, you`re not going to learn all this in advance, so do what I did - take notes of all the times you felt unsure of the correct play before making it or pretty sure in retrospect that you were wrong and then read the appropriate chapters once your session is done.

Part Four covers playing in loose games, and is perhaps the only part of this book that is a little outdated. Mason Malmuth has admitted that he had no idea how big Internet poker would become (and how bad some of the players would be). Still, the core ideas are still valid.

Part Five deals with the important topic of playing shorthanded (this is even more important now, since a lot of online poker rooms offer 6 player maximum tables, so you can permanently play shorthanded, if you like it that way).

Parts Six, Seven, and Eight delve into Non-Standard Games, Other Skills, and Questions and Answers respectively. Each of these sections adds more useful concepts, and reinforces previous ones.

As you may have gathered, this is a comprehensive, and fairly advanced, guide to Holdem. Sklansky and Malmuth aren`t the world`s greatest writers, but as they say, you can "buy lots more books by Hemmingway with the money we make you". I`m not going to lie, mastering this book is not easy. I found it almost as much work as a first year economics course at university. But, it`s going to be very rewarding.

If you`re totally new to studying poker then I`d start with a more beginner-friendly book. But if you know the basics and are serious about improving your holdem, Holdem For Advanced Players is still one of the best books out there.

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