Friday, October 5, 2012

Booking a Win

My wife and I are book collectors. No, not first edition foo-foo type books or so-called "classics", but pretty much anything that catches our fancy, both fiction and non-fiction. I'm a rank amateur compared to my bride when it comes to book hording, with probably 85-90% of the books in the house ones that she's picked up over the years. But I'm no slouch, either, with a whole lot of books on things like engineering, writing, automotive, house building, stock trading, and of course poker books. Lots and lots of poker books. How many? Good question. I've never counted, but the number is easily north of two hundred. Maybe even three hundred. And this doesn't count the hundreds of old Cardplayer magazines I've kept, or PDFs, newsletters, and online articles that I've collected over the years.

Most of my poker books have come from used bookstores, library sales, and the odd garage sale. Occasionally, I'll pay full price for a new one on Amazon, and lately when I do my preference is for e-books, primarily so that I can have a wide variety to choose from when sitting on airplanes and in airports on biz trips.

I mention this fact about my poker book obsession because I'm trying to lay out a more structured approach to studying MTT strategy in advance of the WSOP. In addition to videos and podcasts (and of course seat time), I want to read some serious MTT books.

There are literally scores of tournament poker books on the market, and yes, I own many of them. The trick is sorting through them so that I can prioritize my reading/studying. Here's my list of some of the better ones on MTT play that I currently own that I want to get through between now and June, when the WSOP rolls into Vegas.

Tournament Specific:
  • Harrington on Hold'em, Volumes 1-3, by Harrington and Robertie. I've read these before, but I'll probably go through them once again, at least at a high level, quick read-through. While they are clearly the standard upon which many other tournament books are judged, one issue I do have with HoH is they're getting a bit long in the tooth, especially given how much better the opp has gotten over the years. Ask any serious amateur poker player to name a book on poker tournaments, and odds are they'll know these... and that means that  they know what you know if all you're going by at the tables is this book series. Still, it's worth refreshing on this ABC-approach to MTTs, if not for any other reason than to make sure I understand what other amateur players are thinking.
  • The Poker Tournament Formula, 1 and 2, by Snyder. I'm just now finishing reading the first one, which is all about low patience factor tournament, and I've started the second, which is about high PF MTTs. The books are best described as unconventional, which I love, as they really make me question all the standard conventional poker wisdom. I definitely recommend these two books if you want to be challenged to think. Not sure I fully agree with everything written in them, but there is a ton of really good, though-provoking advice in both books.
  • Winning Poker Tournaments - One Hand at a Time, Volumes 1 and 2, by Lynch, Turner, and Van Fleet. These are two really, really good books that are written from the point of view of three really good poker players, working through hands that they've played in previous MTTs. The first book is just random hands taken from hundreds of online and live tournaments that theses three pros have played. Each hand typically takes between 1-4 pages of analysis. The second book is similar, but focuses on the end game of three MTTs that the three guys each won, respectively. Really good stuff. Rumor is they have a third book out, which I may buy if I get through all the other books on this list.
  • Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, by Little. This book has been talked about a lot recently by guys like Bart Hanson as well as in the forums, and is rumored to be one of the best books on modern, post-Black Friday, live MTT strategy. I own an e-book version, and I'm looking forward to diving into it.
  • Every Hand Revealed, by Hansen. I read this one a few years ago, and I remember thinking this guy is crazy... like a fox. The book details, just like its title suggests, every hand played by Gus Hansen on his way to winning a major Australian poker event, with his thought process on each hand discussed. Fascinating stuff, but potentially damaging to the game of a mere mortal; I'll re-read it with caution.
Miscellaneous Poker and Other:
  • How to Read Hands at No Limit Hold'em, by Miller. Another one that has gotten really good reviews. I picked up an e-version a few months ago, and intend to get through in on one of my many upcoming long flights across the Pacific. The focus is cash games, but I think a significant part of the material can be transferred to MTT play.
  • Elements of Poker, by Angelo. This one is hard to describe. Part zen, part strategy, part psychology. Tommy Angelo is a (very expensive) poker coach who has helped some of the top players in the game get even better. I've only skimmed this book before, but I think it's worth taking the time go through more slowly now.
  • Let There Be Range, by Nyugen. Another book on hand reading in NL Hold'em. I've had an old dog-eared copy of this one for years, and it's time to dust it off and re-read it. Good, solid, hand-reading stuff.
  • Reading Poker Tells, by Elwood. This is another one that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. It's supposedly chock-full of good live advice. 
  • You Can't Lie to Me, by Driver. This one is a non-poker book, but a lot of poker guys read it. It's all about body language and discerning lies by how a person sits, talks, and acts. It's a short read, and the little bit I've skimmed looks actually quite good.
Ones I Don't Currently Own, But Am Considering Buying:
  • The Raiser's Edge, by Grospelier, Dunst, et al.
  • The Mental Game of Poker, by Tendler
The trick to all of this of course is separating the wheat from the chaff, and spending my limited time on just those sources of material that will return the biggest bang for my reading buck. Oh, and I'm always looking for suggestions; drop me a line if you have an idea for a good read that focuses on MTT play that hasn't yet found its way onto my list.

All-in for now....

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