I read the book today. I regret to say that I cannot recommend it. Let me start off by saying that it is not
about how online poker is rigged (as was pointed out by the author and others). In fact he explicitly states that he finds these arguments ridiculous.
However, while it had some good points and some good suggestions I think most of the main ideas are both faulty, poorly reasoned, and even potentially dangerous to the development of your poker.
Also, I should point out that it is very poorly written, simply from the view point of the craft of writing itself. There were many many paragraphs were the author's poor writing ability got in the way of the actual communication of the idea or point he was trying to make. In some cases I had absolutely no idea what he was trying to say. Many sections seemed to just be "stream of conscious" typing by the author with no organization of the thought, and no revision of the initial draft. Use of commas was poor is not non-existent. This may be a little nitty, but I am not sure the book was edited by anyone at all: I counted on one hand the number of times he correctly used "they're, there, their" and "to/too" (and, in lesser cases things like "threw out" instead of "though out"). In almost every single instance the incorrect choice was made. Added to the stylistic difficulties it made for even more rereading of sections in order to comprehend the point. It was so bad that I actually made a note in the margin (p. 86) where he used "too" and "you're" correctly in back to back sentences.
The above criticisms in and of themselves do not condemn the book, however. If the underlying main ideas had merit I would have no difficulty recommending the book simply because of those criticisms. But let's proceed...
The book starts out with a little history of the poker explosion, and the rise of the online sites. He goes on to say that live players, even many pros, will fail to be winners on line. Also, he points out that many pros are paid by the sites to promote them, but, like a lot of celebrity spokespersons, might not actually consume the "product" themselves, and if they do they may be losing players on line even though they are winning in b&m play. We will get to his (dangerous) reasoning for this later.
The book goes on to warn against various scams, particularly cheating programs that promise you the ability to do things like predict the next card, change your hole cards, etc.
So far, ok.
There is a then a lengthy chapter on cheaters, collusion, and bots.
He mentions statistical programs like Holdem Inspector, Poker Prophecy, and Poker Edge, pointing out that using these programs can tell a player what the correct action should be based purely on mathematics. I believe many of these programs are explicitly prohibited by sites like Party Poker
. But he does not distinguish that it is because of their "data mining" properties, not their statistical abilities.
However, no specific mention is made of PokerTracker and/or PA HUD. I think the recommendation of the use of these two programs alone is some of the best advice that can be given to a player seeking to start playing on line. In the following chapter he seems to allude to PT dismissively:
"There is also software programs that will keep records of all the hands you're playing and with the click of a mouse analyze thousands of hands played with an array of statistics about you and your opponents past play. Although I find this available information to come in handy ounce in a while, it's more likely to benefit the novice player learning the game. My well kept notes on players will usually prove to be what I count on not any one particular hand." (p. 55).
Back to that in a little bit...
The chapter also mentions WinHoldem, Poki'e Poker Academy, and Vex Bot in warning about automated play. One interesting thing he points out is that we don't see top players facing off against top computer programs, unlike with chess, where these matches are highly publicized. He speculates that if it were ever shown how good a computer could play that there would be a large effect on the online sites' bottom lines.
He goes on to talk about the dangers of collusion and team play.
Most of the chapter was fine, basically a warning about the possible dangers you can encounter playing on line.
The next chapter is on record keeping and note taking. He takes a strong stance suggesting you do this, and obviously that is good advice. However, is note taking system seem a bit rudimentary, certainly nothing as good as you can find here
on cardschat. As I noted above he seemed to dismiss PT, even though this compensates hugely for a lot of the "busy work" of note taking. We don't have to write down that the guy is a LAG or Calling Station if we can see his PRF, VP$IP, and WTSD % all on an overlay on the screen. Also, PT is clearly an easy an accurate bankroll tracker, showing tournament ROI, level, etc. No need to the recommended spreadsheet (although that is a fine way to do it).
The main themes of the chapter are good advice: keep records, take notes, pay attention, treat your play like a business. But the execution of those goals is way more easily accomplished with the simple use of readily available cheap and legal software like PT and PAHUD.
The next short chapter is a condemnation of multi-tabling. By anyone. At any level, of any experience, ever. He gives some decent reasons why it as bad idea, particularly if you are playing something like a bunch of SNGs, where you get down to short handed on several games and the action becomes extremely fast. However, the categorical dismissal of this fairly common practice is just absurd. No mention of a simple argument such as even though your edge may decrease on each individual table, your overall earn rate can go up through increased volume.
Chapter Seven, "Internet Poker Players". Here is the one that convinced me to take such a strong negative view of the book. Here is where we start to see a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of the game. Basically the chapter is an argument that playing against bad players will cause you to lose, while if you can some how play against better players you will do better. Also, there is a large amount of complaining about bad beats and suck outs, and not being able to get anyone to fold. This post is long enough, so I am not going to go in to a long refutation of this argument. Search cardschat and you will find numerous posts by people who do not understand that you make your money when your opponents make mistakes. Suffice to say this is a fundamental misunderstanding of poker.
Here are some quotes:
""So many of these player will be sticking around and ruining the game
for a long time." (p. 62, my emphasis).
"Remember it's the bad beats and suck draws usually caused by bad players taking you pros down" (p. 67)
"Whereas many online players say that bad players are a benefit
for them playing onilne, I adamently disagree
." (p. 68, his
Basically this is a rehash of the idea of "schooling". Read the refutation here
and here (http://www.internettexasholdem.com/texas-holdem-poker-strategy/ian-taylor-aka-piemaster/schooling%3a-part-ii/) if you are interested.
Perhaps the final cherry on top in this chapter is a condemnation of women, as players (p. 64). He takes the opposite view of the traditional stereotype that says women are tight and timid, claiming that they are usually the most maniacal.
The next chapter is on internet tells
. He claims that most of the usual ones are bogus and/or often reversed by savvy players (ex., the pause before the raise = strong). He gives two that he thinks are sometimes reliable:
1. Betting your hand according to it's strength: limp w low pairs, suited connectors, 3xbb raise w big ace or medium pair, 5x bb raise w JJ-KK, and mini raise w AA. He calls this "value betting", clearly a confusing choice of words considering that a value bet is an often used term with an established meaning in poker, and one that has nothing to do with what he is talking about.
2. Drastic change in style of play one way or another (very tight, or maniacal) by someone who is being attacked from the rail by a player they sucked out on.
Chapter Nine, "Online Bluffs-Steals-and Bad Beats" is back to more of the chapter seven nonsense. While he correctly points out that bluffing
is much harder on line (and gives some valid reasons, such as anonymity), statements like "The real problem playing online is the calls the solid players will get from the massive flow of poor players." and "These terrible carefree players have raised the luck factor to all time highs and while playing online poker defacing the entire concept of the game.
" (p. 77, his
emphasis) make this more of the same silly argument. Basically he is giving one huge rant against bad beats.
Page 78 is his example of how terrible players are destroying the game. He gives a hand history where he basically shoves into the other big stack at the table (about $136k each) from the sb to steal the $6k big blind and gets called by 22. He rightfully points out that her play was a terrible one, but defend his own by saying if he had just raised to 4x the bb he would have been called too: "My play was no doubt the right move" (p.79). I can only surmise that this "beat" was so traumatic that it lead to his above opinion on women, and his overall view of the nature of online poker.
The author seems to have this idea that there is a way the game was meant to be played, and that there are ways hands should end up with regard to the winner. His next chapter is on why you should never play in a cash game. He continues his bad beat rant. Here are the reasons you should NEVER play in a cash game:
2. Statistical programs being used against you.
3. Bots, particularly in limit.
4. Collusion and team play.
While the above are all reasonable and worth pointing out, especially to someone considering playing for higher stakes (we had a recent poster on cardschat suggest he might jump into some bigger games), here is the one that really bothers me:
5. Bad players that "bring the luck factor to new heights" (p. 87).
He states that all of the above combine to "alter the true and honest outcome of any given hand." (p. 87). Thinking that hands have a "true and honest outcome" is indicative of the authors fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of variance and its role in poker. The next part of chapter ten is a rant against maniacs in limit play. For some reason he again chooses confusing language and decides to call them "chasers". While he defines them as players who cap every round of betting with any two cards, page 89 could pretty much be read as sob story on how no one can possibly beat a LAG player: they will get you to fold with unrelenting aggression, but will fold when you play back at them with the nuts.
He ends by saying you should also never play in a cash game online because you can't see physical tells ("how the game was meant to be played", p. 90), and that is you constantly play the same people over and over again everyone will know each other so well that the only way to win will then be to get dealt the best hands that session. Wow.
Chapter Eleven, "Money" starts out with more of the same: "But playing online poker will eventually prove to you that with the volume of bad players fifty percent of the time while executing an action that was well thought out after taking everything into consideration will turn into a coin toss. Like I said earlier the level of luck involved brought to the game while playing online is repulsive..." (p. 91). He does start to get to a reasonable point in this chapter, however, by hinting that higher variance requires a higher bankroll (my interpretation, it is much less clearly put in the book). Also, he notes that you should only play with money that you are willing to lose, not with your mortgage money.
Ok, so how do you make money playing on line poker then? Here is the big revaltion: satellite your way into big multi-table tournaments. Yep.
He then gives some decent tips, like pause five seconds before acting, etc.
The final chapter is a decent short recap of the UIGEA and recent history. The Neteller
debacle is missing, so I can only assume that occurred post publication.
A pretty harsh review, as I am sure you see. Overall, while there are some few
redeeming ideas here, this book falls into the "not recommended" category because of its underlying view of poker and its perpetuation of some of the myths and misunderstandings that new players often bring ot the game. Since I recommend you buy every poker book you can get your hands on this is the worst possible review. Only three other poker books in the history of publishing have achieved this status.