The Complete Book of Hold ‘Em Poker, published in 2001 by author Gary Carson, covers almost everything you need to know about the game including playing in a casino, table and seat selection, betting theory, table image, playing for a living, and even cheating. While the book is suited for novice to experienced players, it does assume that the very basic rules of the game are already known by the readers. It is very well suited for players who know the basics of the game, but would like to learn more about poker whether it be about strategy or adjusting to game conditions.
Carson almost exclusively uses Limit toto hk in his examples throughout the book, which can be very deceiving if you are brand new to poker and play No Limit. Since No Limit Hold’Em has increased greatly in popularity as of late (mostly due to televised tapings of the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour), this could potentially be a problem for NL-only players if they read this book, as a lot of the strategy only applies to Limit. However, a lot of the strategy can still applied to No Limit through common sense. It is just important that the reader is aware that the strategies are for Limit games.
In terms of strategy, Carson focuses on the aspect of pot and betting odds. He also stresses the importance of selecting which tables to play on. He actually states “Game selection is the most important element of poker”, which was very interesting and intriguing to me, as I’ve never thought about it as that important myself. It definitely made me rethink of what tables I play at.
Other goodies of Hold ‘Em Poker include “Women and Poker”, “The Dynamics of Game Conditions”, and “Playing for a Living”.
I recommend getting The Complete Book of Hold ‘Em Poker. It covers a nice spectrum and shares several insights to the game that make the reading worth while.
Championship No Limit & Pot Limit Hold ‘Em
First off, what this book is not. It is not a book for the beginner wanting to learn the basics of how to play hold’em. It is not for the low-limit cash game crowd (or any limit-game player for that matter), nor is it for people whose idea of tournament play is a loose $5+1 sit’n’go. That’s not to say folks whose primary action falls into one of these groups won’t enjoy reading the book or find some nuggets of useful strategy and ideas within its pages.
Just realize you’re not the target audience.
This is a book written for poker players taking aim at high buy-in tournaments and/or serious cash ring games. Chapters in the book cover the topics of knowing your opponents, PL strategy, winning PL tournaments, winning NL tournaments, practicing for the WSOP, NL practice hands and Tales from TJ. A chapter on NL strategy is notably missing from the above list, but that’s primarily due to the manner in which the authors weave discussion game and tournament strategy together.
Readers that have digested Brunson’s “Super System” chapters on NL will notice some subtle differences in advice on how to play certain hands. Discussions of table position and tournament position (early, middle, late, final table) abound within the book. I found it a bit odd that the book devotes more pages to PL than it does to NL, but rest assured – NL gets a very thorough treatment.
While the book’s subtitle claims that it is for tournament and cash game players, make no mistake – this is very much a tournament- oriented book. The authors do mention at places where tournament and cash game strategy might differ with certain hands or scenarios, but there’s never a doubt that this is a tournament poker book written primarily for the tournament poker player.
As for the “extras,” there are nearly 50 pages worth of practice hands and analysis to help readers discover if they’ve digested the material in the book. Most of the practice hands give multiple scenarios as well, so there’s plenty of brainwork to go around. The stories about colorful players and memorable moments which TJ has encountered in his lifetime made for good entertainment and light reading. Trust me, you don’t know the meaning of the words “bad beat” until you read the Tales from TJ section and discovered what he calls “the worst bad beat ever.”
Overall, I found this book to be an easier read than Brunson’s “Super System” or anything I’ve read by Sklansky. The analysis is superior to what is found in Hellmuth’s “Learn to Play Poker like the Pros” and is on par with the original “Super System” in terms of depth. For the frequent tournament player or those dreaming to climb the ladder into higher buy-in games, this book deserves “must have” status for your poker library.