17/10/2012

What is a Great Poker Book?

Carl Sampson 'The Dean'

As someone who can be considered “old school” then all my main poker education started with poker books. This eventually moved onto poker coaching videos and I must say that videos represent a faster learning tool for two reasons. Firstly the coaches can be counted on to be very knowledgeable about the game that they play and secondly the learning process is accelerated when visual imagery is added. However poker books still have a place in my heart and I love nothing better than to sit in my armchair with a cuppa and to get embroiled in a good book.

Down the years I have read hundreds of gambling books from poker books to books on blackjack, sports betting... you name it. If you truly want to read a book to then become a better player then this is something of a problem. This isn’t because the books are all bad or the authors who write them, it is to do with your own personality and day to day life impacting on what your optimum style and level is. Over the years I have gone down a lot of blind alleys with regards to my poker but looking back then the reason is evident to me now.

It is because I wasn’t in tune with myself and who I was as a person. Your personality is reflected in your poker game and if you try to buck that then you will either not enjoy your poker or you will stop playing. I finally know how and where I should be playing poker but this has been a long process to get there. I came from playing blackjack into poker but before blackjack I was very good at designing and implementing strategies and systems in game play. Systematic play works very well in blackjack but less so in poker and so this caused me a problem for some time.

I have personality “defects” that are not conducive with playing good poker in many types of poker environment. I have had a terrible tilt issue in the past and also tend to lose concentration and drift off into a daydream. On top of that then I would consider myself risk adverse and so it isn’t difficult to see the types of poker games where flaws like that don’t fit. However if I have one strength that I am proud of and that is my dogged determination to overcome problems!

I designed some years ago a systematic way of playing poker that allowed me to play more tables at lower stake levels. I knew that I was never going to be a mid-stakes player and I had tried playing higher levels at one stage and I just felt horribly uncomfortable. In poker then you should listen to your inner self because if you don’t feel right then this is your subconscious warning you that something is wrong. I know now that I will always play NL50 and NL100 full ring and I compensate for lower earnings by playing more tables.

I eventually arrived at this style through reading two books, one of which on the surface isn’t even a poker book. The first book was Treat Your Poker Like a Business by Dusty Schmidt and the second one was The Way to Trade by John Piper. I can also cite Belok’s mass tabling video on CardRunners as well. Poker and day trading are so closely linked that the skills required to succeed in either are very similar. I found both of these books not only inspirational but highly educational. This kind of surprised me recently when I read a few people on Amazon slating Dusty’s book. People do have a habit of searching for immediate answers that lead to immediate profits in both of these fields and when a book doesn’t present answers in an ABC way then they slate it.

There is no short cut to success and hard work and self-analysis is required. I am not recommending that you buy either of these books by the way. I truly believe that we all take different things from different sources. We are all at a different stage of our poker evolutionary process. Poker books that I thought were great years ago are now nothing short of primers at best. The overwhelming problem with poker is that it is difficult to know what to learn based on what fits your personality. The author or coach cannot know this and if they tried to find that out then the student probably wouldn’t hang around for long because they would get frustrated at not being shown “poker” theory.

So my opinions on what constitute great poker books will differ from everyone else and that is normal. I struggle to find books that help me these days but that is purely because I have found my niche at what I call my optimum earning level. There is much that I can learn from great players but what is the point if you don’t intend to play mid-stakes as much of the advice can be harmful at lower levels. My advice is to do two things, try and home in on what types of poker fit your personality at what level and then get the educational material on that form of poker... doing it the other way around is putting the cart before the horse.

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