Thursday, January 24, 2013

Too Many Books? Yup.

A small fraction of my collection. These were just the ones that I had piled on my desk at the time I posted this blog entry. Yes, I have a sickness.
As mentioned before herein this blog, my wife and I are book collectors. No, not fancy-schmancy first-edition book collectors. Instead, we're collectors of interesting stuff, preferably inexpensive stuff. Books we'd like to read some day, or have read before and want to read again. We're also big on reference materials of all sorts. Most of our acquisitions come from used bookstores, library sales, and yard sales. Occasionally, we'll break down and buy new via Amazon or, gasp, a brick-n-mortar new bookstore.

We have a literal houseful of the written page, ranging from old obscure leather-bound non-fiction, to slick modern fiction, with pretty much everything in between. Years ago we tried to count, but gave up after 15K titles. Seriously. If a nuclear EMP device ever knocks out the grid and all electronics/internet/computers/etc. go down, our house will be one that carries the torch of knowledge into the post-Apocalypse. Want to know how to skin a deer, identify a plant, or what constellation is overhead? We've got multiple books on each subject. Want to read an old German nursery rhyme, a Steven King novel, or a poem by Shakespeare?? Covered. Want a foreign language dictionary in French, German, Russian, or Spanish? Check, check, check, and check. Medical texts and home repair and insect identification how-to's? Car books, philosophy tomes? Martin Cruz Smith, health and fitness? Janet Evanovich, Tom Clancy, stock trading, Elmore Leonard, and Hemingway? Engineering, medical, philosophy, mathematics, statistics, architecture, etcetera. Our library has 'em all covered. And we read them, too. At any given time, I've literally 4-6 different books open throughout the house that I'm bouncing between/reading. My wife probably has twice as many. We have, as you might say, a glut of books and interests. Or perhaps it's best described as a problem. Dunno.

And of course I have poker books. Oh, and videos, too. And Cardplayer magazines. And newsletters. And e-books. And podcasts, and...  Well, you get the idea. I have a lot of poker studying material. In fact, I've come to the realization that I have too many poker reference materials. Take books for example. I recently counted what I have in just hard copy. I was a little shocked to discover to find over 175 poker books on the shelves of my office. Seriously. 175.

If I read one of these per week, it would take me three and a half years to get through the pile....

And this doesn't count the fifty or so electronic/soft-copy poker books and PDFs. Or the more than 1800 poker training videos I have collected (yes, eighteen hundred). Or the 250+ podcasts I have on my computer. Or the estimated 200 back issues of Cardplayer I have sitting in a bookshelf in my bedroom. Or the hundreds of articles, web pages, and other card-related errata that I snip and clip and file away....

...which brings me to the point of today's blog post. With the WSOP less than six months away, and the desperate need to focus attention and improve my MTT play, I need to triage all this material. I need pick a few good reference books and/or videos and then really dive into them. Take serious notes. Study and learn...

...and ignore the rest of the collection-- at least until after the WSOP. Give up cash game studying. Quit reading non-useful information. In other words, the name of the game has to be prioritization.

FWIW, here's the list of what currently sits on my bookshelf, grouped by general poker and gambling categories:

Winning 7 Card Stud
Adams
Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players
Sklansky
High Low Split Poker: Stud and O8
Zee
SnG Strategy
Moshman
Secrets of SnGs
Shaw
Ultimate Guide to Poker Tells
Burgess
Idiots Guide to Poker Tells
Dempsey
Reading People
Dimitrius
You Can't Lie to Me
Driver
Reading Poker Tells
Elwood
How to Read Hands at NLHE
Miller
Read 'em and Reap
Navarro
Inside the Poker Mind
Feeney
Your Worst Poker Enemy
Schoonmaker
The Poker Mindset
Taylor
Omaha Poker
Ciaffone
Championship Omaha
Cloutier
Pot Limit Omaha Poker
Hwang
The Professor, Banker, and Suicide King
Craig
One of a Kind: Stuey Ungar
Dalla
Deal Me In
John
The Man With The $100,000 Breasts
Konik
Cowboys Full: The Story of Poker
McManus
The Odds: One Season, Three Gamblers
Millman
The Best Hand I Ever Played
Rosenbloom
Lessons from the Felt
Apostolico
Tournament Poker and Art of War
Apostolico
Tournament Poker 101
Cogert
Tournament Poker for Donkeys
Cogert
Full Tilt Poker Strategy  Guide - Tournaments
Craig
Every Hand Revealed
Hansen
Harrington on Holdem Vol 1
Harrington
Harrington on Holdem Vol 2
Harrington
Harrington on Holdem Vol 3
Harrington
Making the Final Table
Lindgren
Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker
Little
Winning Poker Tourneys: Vol 1
Lynch
Winning Poker Tourneys: Vol 2
Lynch
Winning Poker Tourneys: Vol 3
Lynch
Kill Everyone
Nelson
Kill Phil
Rodman
Tournament Poker
Sklansky
Getting Lucky
Sparks
The Poker Tournament Formula Vol 1
Synder
The Poker Tournament Formula Vol 2
Synder
Amilkin Odds Book
Amilkin
Killer Poker by the Numbers
Guerrera
Casino Math
Hannum
The Math of Hold'em
Moshman
Bets: Computers and Math Modeling
Skiena
Weighing the Odds in Hold'em Poker
Yao
A Rubber Band Story
Angelo
Machiavellian Poker Strategy
Apostolico
Poker Nation
Bellin
Super/System
Brunson
Get the Edge
Burton
Casino Poker
Carson
Championship NL and PL Hold'em
Cloutier
Cooke's Rules of Real Poker
Cooke
No Limit Texas Hold'em
Daugherty
Poker Wizards
Dunnett
Online Ace
Fischman
Las Vegas 2010
Fodors
Little Green Book of Hold'em
Fong
The Poker Aficionado
Fornatale
Why You Lose at Poker
Fox
Poker is the Name of the Game
Gibson
The Complete Idiots Guide to Poker
Glazer
Little Green Book
Gordon
Poker: The Real Deal
Gordon
Ace on the River
Greenstein
Winning at Internet Poker for Dummies
Harlan
Poker for Dummies
Harroch
Bad Beats and Lucky Draws
Hellmuth
Play Poker Like the Pros
Hellmuth
Outplaying the Boys
Hulbert
Poker
Jacoby
How to Cheat Your Friends at Poker
Jillette
Why Shouldn't a Woman Wear Red in Casino
Joseph
Aces and Kings
Kaplan
Secrets the Pros Won't Tell You
Krieger
The Poker Players Bible
Krieger
Poker Strategy and Winning Play
Livingston
Poker Strategy Proven Principles
Livingston
Little Red Book of Gambling Wisdom
Lyons
Fundamentals of Poker
Malmuth
Poker Essays
Malmuth
The World's Greatest Gambling Scams
Marcus
Winning Texas Hold'em
Maroon
The Making of a Poker Player
Matros
Poker According to Maverick
Maverick
Complete Guide to Winning Poker
Morehead
Pro Poker Strategy
Moshman
Power Hold'em Strategy
Negreanu
The Smarter Bet Guide to Poker
Nestor
The Tao of Poker
Phillips
Zen and the Art of Poker
Phillips
An Introduction to Poker
Reuben
The Zen of Gambling
Root
Scarnes Guide to Modern Poker
Scarne
Scarnes New Complete Guide to Gambling
Scarne
Poker as Life
Schreiber
Winners Guide to Casino Poker
Silberstang
The Theory of Poker
Sklansky
Winning Poker
Sklansky
Hold'em on the Come
Slotboom
Inside the Gamblers Mind
Spanier
Thursday Night Poker
Steiner
Real Poker Night
Stephenson
Read 'em and Weep
Stravinsky
Dealer Choice
Thackrey
Decide to Play Great Poker
Vorhaus
Killer Poker Online
Vorhaus
Killer Poker Online 2
Vorhaus
Poker Night
Vorhaus
Poker: A Guaranteed Income for Life
Wallace
The Big Book of Poker
Warren
Ghosts at the Table
Wilson
Idiots Guide to Gambling Like a Pro
Wong
Dirty Poker
Marcus
24/7 Las Vegas
Martinez
Busting Vegas
Mezrich
Bad Bet
O'Brien
Welcome to the Pleasuredome: Las Vegas
Spanier
Guide to Sports Betting
Sturgeon
Casino Gambling
Tamburin
Beat the Dealer
Thorp
Las Vegas Behind the Tables 2
Vinson
Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie
Alson
Take Me to the River
Alson
The Biggest Game in Town
Alvarez
How I Raised, Folded… and Won Millions
Duke
Big Deal
Holden
Bigger Deal
Holden
Positively Fifth Street
McManus
Bringing Down the House
Mezrich
Moneymaker
Moneymaker
Amarillo Slim In a World of Fat People
Preston
The Hand I Played
Spanier
Diary of a Mad Poker Player
Sparks
Enemy Number One
Veitch
How to Win the WSOP
Walsh
All In
Yang
The Education of a Poker Player
Yardley
Broke
Adams
Rounders
Canty
Shut up and Deal
May
The Superuser
Moshman
Dead Man's Hand
Penzler
Las Vegas Noir
Pierce
High Stakes
Randisi
Under the Neon Sky
Rankin
Deadman's Poker
Swain
Loaded Dice
Swain
The Color of Money
Tevis
The Hustler
Tevis
The Picasso Flop
Van Patten
Low Limit Texas Hold'em
Abulencia
Foolproof
Allen
Foolproof Workbook
Allen
Real Poker II: the Play of Hands
Cooke
Professional NLHE Vol 1
Flynn et al
Small Stakes NLHE
Flynn et al
Harrington on Cash Games
Harrington
Harrington on Online Cash Games
Harrington
Playing the Player
Miller
Small Stakes Hold'em
Miller
Heads-Up No Limit Hold'em
Moshman
Illustrated Guide to Texas Hold'em
Purdy
Don't listen to Phil Hellmuth
Schmidt
52 Tips for Texas Hold'em
Shulman
Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players
Sklansky
Advanced Degree in Hold'em
Swayne
Dynamic Full Ring Poker
Sweeney


As you can see, this is a ridiculous amount of books to select from. What should I pick from this collection to focus on? Great question, and one that I don't have a fully-formed great answer to, but let's start with what I shouldn't read.

I do know that I can eliminate the cash game books and general purpose poker books from my prep list. I've got most of these fundamentals down, and I think I'll just confuse my game if I continue to mix up cash and tournament strategies.

For obvious reasons, I can also ignore all the stud, PLO, and split-pot game books, as these have no relevance to my upcoming WSOP trip. And the first-person non-fiction accounts, while entertaining, aren't going to teach me much if anything about how to be a better live tournament player.

Poker fiction is also pretty much useless, too, as is anything written by anyone named Moneymaker, Duke, Hellmuth, Yang, or Slim. Negreanu's books are also not so great.  Same with the general gambling tomes.

The math and odds books I own are all pretty much fantastic, but I frankly know most of the important stuff in those books already; maybe just a quick review of some of the basics is in order.

On the MTT front, I think the Harrington tournament books, while chock full of solid ABC advice, are getting long in the tooth given today's well-educated poker populace. I've also read these multiple times, and I'm not sure what else I can glean from them.

This leaves a shorter list to pluck from, but it still doesn't quite narrow the list down enough. I think the areas that I'm weak in are: a) modern MTT-specific strategies and tactics; b) live tells and hand reading; and c) some mental/tilt/emotional control advice for long multi-day tourneys.

Now I just have to pick the reference materials that will help me shore up in these areas. That's the next step. [And, please, if you see something on this list (or know of a really good MTT-specific book that isn't on this list), please drop me a line. I'm all ears.]

And for what it's worth, I think I need to re-think my entire how-to-prep approach. What I'm currently doing isn't focused enough or MTT-specific enough. So what I'm now thinking is to get from here to the WSOP is simplification, with an emphasis on just four basic areas:
  1. Read (and re-read) 3-4 modern MTT-specific books;
  2. Watch 1-2 MTT-specific vids per week;
  3. Get my fat ass in shape; and 
  4. Play lots of poker, live and online.
Mr. Multi also offered a great suggestion today that I try blogging my recaps/hand-histories of SnGs and MTTs that I play between now and then. The idea is to review the HHs and see if I can spot weaknesses. I also encourage readers to send me their thoughts on these hand histories, too.

Finally, I may invest a few bucks into an expert modern-style MTT coach to help identify trouble areas in my game. This part is a little uncertain, and won't take place in any case for a few months.

The bottom line is I need to get better, and I need a real, focused plan. Simply reading hundreds of poker books as the mood strikes just ain't gonna do it anymore for this bug.

All-in for now...
-Bug

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