Monday, December 24, 2012

Killer Poker Komparisons

I picked up a dog-eared copy of Kill Phil at my local used bookstore a few months ago, but I just now got 'round to cracking it open and skimming through the chapters. For those of you unaware, Kill Phil* is a very popular book written in 2005 by Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson. The premise of the book can be distilled down into four basic points:
  1. MTT Hold'em are the most lucrative form of poker to play.
  2. NL Hold'em is a highly difficult and complex game to master.
  3. The professionals in big MTTs have significant edges over most other players (read: you).
  4. A newbie can take away much the pros' edges by playing a tight shove-or-fold strategy against them.
While I believe this kind of anti-Phil strategy is fine for absolute beginners, I'm not convinced it's the best strategy for a solid intermediate/advanced player to employ, as it basically adds in too much"gambling" and variance to the outcome of a tournament. Why get it all in unless you actually have to? A local serious amateur player once talked to my (old) poker strategy lunch group about her secret to going deep in the WSOP. In a nutshell, she said that she tried very hard not to commit all her chips unless she had a significant amount of equity in the hand. I'm becoming a bigger and bigger believer in this concept (and in fact it's the basis of why I think I do so well at cash games these days-- I have learned how to fold).

Anyway, I digress. Long time readers of this blog know that I'm a little obsessed with the concept of Edge. I've used this obsession to create a systematic approach to studying and improving, which I am convinced has made a huge impact on my game. In a nutshell, I believe there are three basic categories of Edge that professional players have mastered: Preparation, Technical Skills, and Emotional Control. Each of these three categories can then be subdivided into three constituent parts, which means there are a total of nine key edges that the professionals have mastered (see the ABC Edge drop-down tab at the top of this blog's homepage for more info...). If you want to learn to beat poker, you have to learn and master each of these.
Fine, nothing new here, right? I've blogged about this plenty in the past. If you want to get better at poker, you have to learn all nine of these things. Well, yes, but as I was skimming Kill Phil I saw a small section on what they believe separates the men from the boys, as it were, at the poker tables. The authors identified twelve key skills to poker that professionals do better than their weaker competition... ah, but  this got me thinking about the the Ten Commandments of Poker that the Guru and I put together nearly a decade ago, and which is something I used frequently for years to help right my listing poker ship whenever it was taking on water. For fun, I put our three lists side-by-side to compare where, if anywhere, the overlap was:

As you can see, there's a lot of overlap and agreement with the other two lists with mine, but there's also areas that are missing in those two, too. In other words, try as I might, I haven't yet found any significant edge or skill that is missing from my nine. Said another way, if you want to learn to crush the game, you really should focus on mastering these nine Edges of poker. It's worked for me. It will work for you.

All-in for now...
*the term "Phil" in this context means big name poker professionals in general, such as Phil Ivey, Phil Helmuth, Phil Galfond, Phil Gordon, et phil al...


  1. I read Kill Phil and Kill Everyone and didn't find them useful. Anybody can write a book that just says shove if you like your hand.

  2. I agree, Memphis. I'm not very impressed with the KP book at all.