# classification of poker math books

hencin
High Card

Joined: 10 Jan 2012
Posts: 3

Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:45 am
I was wondering why are there so many Hold'em math titles on the market, since the mathematics is only one. I guess the answer is that each book has its own coverage on the math of the game (which is wide), according to its author's fields of expertise. Some of them are successful or experienced poker players and inclined more on strategy than on pure math, others have some technical background and their approach of the poker math is rather statistical then analytical, and few of them have a strong mathematics background, making their books to look like real applied math courses. Well, there is also a last category of authors: poker players that still master their high-school math, found that few simple probability calculations can fill tens of pages, teaching others how to do them can fill hundreds of pages and so came up with a book on poker math. I will ignore this latter category in my current review.
The issue is not to rank all these titles together in a top-5 or -10 list, but ranking them by several criteria, of which I see coverage of Hold'em math, ease of understanding, and usefulness in strategy as the most relevant. I guess such classifications would be useful for someone who wants o pick a book or two per his/her needs. So please improve my lists below. I chose the following titles as relevant and labeled them with numbers, then in my classifications I only used their numbers (the order in the first list is given by their publication year):

Hold'em Odds Book (Petriv)  1
Weighing the Odds in Hold'em Poker (Yao)  2
Texas Hold'em Odds and Probabilities: Limit, No-Limit, and Tournament Strategies (Hilger)  3
The Mathematics of Poker (Chen)  4
The Math of Hold'em (Moshman)  5
Poker Math that Matters: Simplifying the Secrets of No-limit Hold'em (Gaines)  6
Texas Hold'em Poker Odds for Your Strategy, with Probability-Based Hand Analyses (Barboianu)  7

Now, my classifications are:
By usefulness in strategy: 6, 2, 3, 5, 7, 4, 1
By ease of understanding: 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 1, 7
By coverage of Hold'em math: 7, 1, 5, 4, 2, 6, 3
Feel free to add other criteria, titles, or change rankings, of course.
The Dean
Straight Flush

Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 3209
Location: with position on you

Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:09 pm
hencin wrote:
I was wondering why are there so many Hold'em math titles on the market, since the mathematics is only one. I guess the answer is that each book has its own coverage on the math of the game (which is wide), according to its author's fields of expertise. Some of them are successful or experienced poker players and inclined more on strategy than on pure math, others have some technical background and their approach of the poker math is rather statistical then analytical, and few of them have a strong mathematics background, making their books to look like real applied math courses. Well, there is also a last category of authors: poker players that still master their high-school math, found that few simple probability calculations can fill tens of pages, teaching others how to do them can fill hundreds of pages and so came up with a book on poker math. I will ignore this latter category in my current review.
The issue is not to rank all these titles together in a top-5 or -10 list, but ranking them by several criteria, of which I see coverage of Hold'em math, ease of understanding, and usefulness in strategy as the most relevant. I guess such classifications would be useful for someone who wants o pick a book or two per his/her needs. So please improve my lists below. I chose the following titles as relevant and labeled them with numbers, then in my classifications I only used their numbers (the order in the first list is given by their publication year):

Hold'em Odds Book (Petriv)  1
Weighing the Odds in Hold'em Poker (Yao)  2
Texas Hold'em Odds and Probabilities: Limit, No-Limit, and Tournament Strategies (Hilger)  3
The Mathematics of Poker (Chen)  4
The Math of Hold'em (Moshman)  5
Poker Math that Matters: Simplifying the Secrets of No-limit Hold'em (Gaines)  6
Texas Hold'em Poker Odds for Your Strategy, with Probability-Based Hand Analyses (Barboianu)  7

Now, my classifications are:
By usefulness in strategy: 6, 2, 3, 5, 7, 4, 1
By ease of understanding: 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 1, 7
By coverage of Hold'em math: 7, 1, 5, 4, 2, 6, 3
Feel free to add other criteria, titles, or change rankings, of course.

Interesting topic but I think we need to be careful here making ratings like this because they can be wildly innacurate. Firstly (and I am not having a go at you but merely adding to the discussion) this is just your opinion. Secondly the ratings that you give paint a wildly misleading picture. For instance it implies that Mike Petriv's book is poor in strategic content coming last on the list and so anyone looking at your rating would never buy that book if this is what they were looking for.

However that book is crammed full of strategic content but you simply have to look beyond the numbers. I have that book and have read it many times but it was only when I become a far better player did I really see the strategic content within the book. If you are looking for a book to actually spell it out for you then you could rate that book poorly.......but if you can see the strategic undertones beyond the numbers then the book is rich in strategy.

Examples........the book allows you to see how equity is important in the selection of a poker hand not just pre-flop but post flop and allows you to see the profitability in the hand. You can use this to design an entire pre-flop strategy. Another example could be taken from the tables that indicate how difficult it is to flop certain hands and how difficult it is to hit hands like two pair or better. You can use these probabilities to devise strategies to ISO weak fish more and especially if they are risk averse or playing on short bankrolls.

Seeing the odds of how often you can make a flush on the flop with suited cards, on the turn and on the river can reveal to a player how incorrect it can be to play fit or fold poker with these hands in tight games because of poor implied odds. I could be here all day talking about the rich strategic content in that book.......if you rate that book last then the others must be something pretty special and seeing as I have read three of them then I know that they are not........just different. In my opinion Petrivs book is a bit like The Theory of Poker by Sklansky in so much that you need a certain level of understanding to fully appreciate the book and future re-readings when you have broadened your understanding can prove to be very rewarding.
_________________
Carl Sampson can also be seen on his blog at www.pokersharkpool.com
hencin
High Card

Joined: 10 Jan 2012
Posts: 3

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:21 am
The Dean wrote:
hencin wrote:
I was wondering why are there so many Hold'em math titles on the market, since the mathematics is only one. I guess the answer is that each book has its own coverage on the math of the game (which is wide), according to its author's fields of expertise. Some of them are successful or experienced poker players and inclined more on strategy than on pure math, others have some technical background and their approach of the poker math is rather statistical then analytical, and few of them have a strong mathematics background, making their books to look like real applied math courses. Well, there is also a last category of authors: poker players that still master their high-school math, found that few simple probability calculations can fill tens of pages, teaching others how to do them can fill hundreds of pages and so came up with a book on poker math. I will ignore this latter category in my current review.
The issue is not to rank all these titles together in a top-5 or -10 list, but ranking them by several criteria, of which I see coverage of Hold'em math, ease of understanding, and usefulness in strategy as the most relevant. I guess such classifications would be useful for someone who wants o pick a book or two per his/her needs. So please improve my lists below. I chose the following titles as relevant and labeled them with numbers, then in my classifications I only used their numbers (the order in the first list is given by their publication year):

Hold'em Odds Book (Petriv)  1
Weighing the Odds in Hold'em Poker (Yao)  2
Texas Hold'em Odds and Probabilities: Limit, No-Limit, and Tournament Strategies (Hilger)  3
The Mathematics of Poker (Chen)  4
The Math of Hold'em (Moshman)  5
Poker Math that Matters: Simplifying the Secrets of No-limit Hold'em (Gaines)  6
Texas Hold'em Poker Odds for Your Strategy, with Probability-Based Hand Analyses (Barboianu)  7

Now, my classifications are:
By usefulness in strategy: 6, 2, 3, 5, 7, 4, 1
By ease of understanding: 3, 2, 4, 6, 5, 1, 7
By coverage of Hold'em math: 7, 1, 5, 4, 2, 6, 3
Feel free to add other criteria, titles, or change rankings, of course.

Interesting topic but I think we need to be careful here making ratings like this because they can be wildly innacurate. Firstly (and I am not having a go at you but merely adding to the discussion) this is just your opinion. Secondly the ratings that you give paint a wildly misleading picture. For instance it implies that Mike Petriv's book is poor in strategic content coming last on the list and so anyone looking at your rating would never buy that book if this is what they were looking for.

However that book is crammed full of strategic content but you simply have to look beyond the numbers. I have that book and have read it many times but it was only when I become a far better player did I really see the strategic content within the book. If you are looking for a book to actually spell it out for you then you could rate that book poorly.......but if you can see the strategic undertones beyond the numbers then the book is rich in strategy.

Examples........the book allows you to see how equity is important in the selection of a poker hand not just pre-flop but post flop and allows you to see the profitability in the hand. You can use this to design an entire pre-flop strategy. Another example could be taken from the tables that indicate how difficult it is to flop certain hands and how difficult it is to hit hands like two pair or better. You can use these probabilities to devise strategies to ISO weak fish more and especially if they are risk averse or playing on short bankrolls.

Seeing the odds of how often you can make a flush on the flop with suited cards, on the turn and on the river can reveal to a player how incorrect it can be to play fit or fold poker with these hands in tight games because of poor implied odds. I could be here all day talking about the rich strategic content in that book.......if you rate that book last then the others must be something pretty special and seeing as I have read three of them then I know that they are not........just different. In my opinion Petrivs book is a bit like The Theory of Poker by Sklansky in so much that you need a certain level of understanding to fully appreciate the book and future re-readings when you have broadened your understanding can prove to be very rewarding.

Of course, such rankings are subjective and I admit I have not read all these books. I have read three of them and browsed the others. I also used some Amazon reviews for my rankings. This is why my post is especially addresses to those who have read the books.
The Dean
Straight Flush

Joined: 01 Feb 2007
Posts: 3209
Location: with position on you

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:23 pm
For the record.......you need to be careful using Amazon reviews and to use them subjectively. Many of the people who review books have little understanding of what they are talking about when it comes to poker. They read books and either don't understand what is in them or think they do and end up misinterpreting the information. I have had many books from amazon and have read hundreds of reviews and many are very bad and way off the mark.

For me the best books are where you have to dig because they make you think for yourself......alas this is not what many of the masses want who are looking for in your face, plain as day, black and white answers. Unfortunately in complex fields then black and white rarely exists and if people think thats enough then they are really at a basic level in their current understanding and progression.
_________________
Carl Sampson can also be seen on his blog at www.pokersharkpool.com
hencin
High Card

Joined: 10 Jan 2012
Posts: 3

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 1:13 pm
The Dean wrote:
For the record.......you need to be careful using Amazon reviews and to use them subjectively. Many of the people who review books have little understanding of what they are talking about when it comes to poker. They read books and either don't understand what is in them or think they do and end up misinterpreting the information. I have had many books from amazon and have read hundreds of reviews and many are very bad and way off the mark.

For me the best books are where you have to dig because they make you think for yourself......alas this is not what many of the masses want who are looking for in your face, plain as day, black and white answers. Unfortunately in complex fields then black and white rarely exists and if people think thats enough then they are really at a basic level in their current understanding and progression.

You are totally right about Amazon reviews. Not mentioning that some of them belong to the publisher/author (or their staff) or even to competition. I basically considered those having a good coverage of the content of the book and a high percentage of positive ratings (say, 40 from 50). Of course, neither these ones can replace your own thinking about the book. Still, we have to refer to the majority when ranking books, as the goal of providing lists is to help readers to choose. Since the readers are of different cultures, levels of education, fields of expertise, and interests, we can not rely only on our own reviews.
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