Harrington on Hold 'em, Volume 1 - Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

Apparently, I can't get enough of poker theory books! This book is rather different to the others, in that it's extremely concrete. Sklansky talks in generalisations, providing concepts to allow you to tune your play. If you have no basic grasp, applying this tuning to a lack of core knowledge is difficult. This book takes the opposite approach of just running through the various rounds of betting, talking about very concrete positions, and saying what you'd do in each one. So, it's pretty heavily paint by numbers, but that's perhaps underselling it a bit - concepts are explained and factors to take into account are identified, but it's all based on very explicit examples. I love it.

The other great thing about it is the exercises. Perhaps half the book is taken up with them. Really, they're just examples, structured to encourage you to think before reading the advice, but they're still highly engaging and very effective at illustrating concepts through actual play. Entertainingly, as well as discussing the theoretical plays, there is 'what actually happened', reminding you how perfect theoretical analysis can still land you with a bad beat.

Previously I'd been rather enamoured with Sklansky's near-mathematical analysis of poker, but for where I am as a beginner I'm now completely sold on this approach, and I suspect I'll be finding it very hard to resist the other volumes in this series.

Posted 2011-01-06.