Book Review: Poker Math That Matters
Title: Poker Math That Matters, Simplifying the Secrets of No-Limit Holdem
Author: Owen Gaines, Drag The Bar
coach and CardsChat member (QTipDTB)
Cost: 24.95 + $5 s&h available at qtippoker.com (click on the book title above)
I've noticed recently that I have been on auto-pilot and not thinking about the math behind my decisions enough so I was considering picking up Mathematics of Poker (http://www.amazon.com/Mathematics-Poker-Bill-Chen/dp/1886070253)but I have heard that it's a bear of a read and as dry as a bone so I was a bit leery and put it off. When I was going on my 2nd month without completing a FTP Academy challenge because I hadn't once folded a 4 flush draw without direct odds
(I had implied odds dammit ) on the turn I figured I needed to do something. About the time that I started to think about Mathematics of Poker again QTip started posting here a little and I looked him up over on Drag the Bar. I liked his videos and approach to the game and lo and behold he'd just released a book on Poker Math. The price was reasonable and so what the hell. I placed my order.
The book arrived USPS about 4 days after I placed my order and I began reading it. The book reads very easily and starts out VERY basically with details on buy-ins, bankrolls and winrates. Owen then introduces key concepts (ratios, percentages, fractions, and expectation) that he expands on later after a basic chapter on counting outs and the 4/2 rule.
The real meat of the book then begins with all the fun math stuff you'd expect in a poker book. Odds, Equity, Fold Equity, Hand Combos, Bluffing, Semi-Buffing, Implied Odd, and Set Mining are all clearly laid out and explained. The style of the book is to introduce and teach a subject and then ask 3-10 quiz style questions at the end of each chapter. The questions and answers are at the back of the book so you can check your work. I really liked the fact that the questions were reprinted in the back so it wasn't just a list of answers. I think this will make a great way to refresh as needed by just going through the questions and answers from time to time and only rereading sections that I am unclear on.
Owen does a very good job of explaining each topic and teaching basic shortcuts where applicable. The math is all very clearly and simply explained and I'm pretty sure even the most mathematically challenged will get it. In fact, I'd say this book is aimed squarely at the beginning poker player and those who want to get the basic math foundation down without all the big scary equations that a book like Mathematics of Poker throws at the reader.
Unfortunately, there are a number of typos and a couple of silly errors that Owen is aware of and that he says will be fixed in the next printing and in the soon to be released digital format. Most of them are meaningless things like saying the answers are on page 188 when they're actually on page 190. I will say that these types of errors bother me whenever I see them in a book but especially a math book. Not sure why as none of them really effected the math but I did notice it enough to PM Owen about it. I also would have liked to see a couple of more advanced chapters on things like standard deviation, variance, and perhaps HUD stats, but all the basics are there and I understand the decision not to include the more advanced concepts.
Bottom line is that I would certainly recommend the book to all beginners and to those looking to add a solid math foundation to their games. It's a quick read and it doesn't bog down which is quite a feat for a math text. The $30 with shipping price seems right and I would certainly say I got my monies worth out of it.
On top of that Owen seems like a genuinely good guy and I hope he sticks around here at CC. Oh yeah and I still have yet to fold to a turn bet holding a 4 flush. Maybe I should just move on to the next stupid FTPA challenge.