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Old 11-24-2007, 10:42 PM
tipperdog tipperdog is offline
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Default Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

I just finished reading this book and thought I'd post some thoughts.

As preface, I confess to a personal bias, having been an occasional student of Barry Tanenbaum’s through the years. Without question, he has the sharpest poker mind I’ve ever encountered personally (but don’t be too impressed…I don’t know that many poker pros [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]). That said, here are my general thoughts about the book:

Advanced Limit Hold ‘Em Strategy is a terrific book. More clearly than any other book I’ve read on limit hold ‘em, it provides insight into the mindset and approach of a serious professional. At its core, this book answers the question, "What does a 40-80 professional know that a 6-12 grinder doesn’t?"

ALHS is a tough book to categorize, which I fear may confuse some readers. It’s neither a theory book (though it contains some really interesting theory) nor is it a how-to “manual” like Hold ‘Em for Advanced Players or even Winning Low Limit Hold ‘Em. It doesn’t attempt to be a soup-to-nuts guide to shaping winning players and assumes that readers already play reasonably well. It is most emphatically not a beginner’s text and skips the basics that accompany 90% of poker books published today.

The book is divided into two major sections: concepts and stages.

Concepts is the more theoretical section of the book. It’s not a “theory” section in the way that Theory of Poker is. Rather, it’s where Barry discusses the meta-game objectives of the profitable professional in tough games, like remaining unpredictable, playing situationally, and maintaining balance in your game.

By far, the most important discussion in the concepts section is what Barry calls The Illusion of Action, which basically means playing in a way that makes you look like a “crazy” action player, when in fact, you’re really playing solid selective-aggressive poker. The book argues that tight-aggressive play is sufficient to soundly beat low-limit games, but as you move up, you’ll stop getting action from the better players that frequent the higher limits. Barry argues that the Illusion of Action keeps the payoffs coming your way.

The second half of the book comes closer to what you might expect from a typical poker book. Barry moves street-by-street—from pre-flop to the river—explaining the general principles he uses for determining the best play. Some of these sections have been adapted from Barry’s Cardplayer columns. For example, ALHS includes a more than 25-page section on playing the turn of out position. Much of this section was adapted from Barry’s 6-part Cardplayer series on the same topic, but it’s far easier to read in the book. It’s significantly expanded, and it’s all in here one place. In general, I find multi-part columns difficult to read. It’s far better in the longer and less choppy book format.

In terms of my own play, I found value in both the concepts and stages sections. It definitely helped me better understand and exploit position and improved my river play significantly (mostly by value betting the river more). The “Playing the Turn” chapters were also particularly helpful, as I often had trouble deciding whether to push on the turn with a marginal hand or give it up. (I still have trouble with this…but less now!)

I don’t really have significant dislikes to report. The only real trouble for many readers will be figuring out how to integrate the concepts described in this book into their playing styles. The book doesn’t show you how to “play like Barry” in a comprehensive way—as HEFAP does for Sklansky and Malmuth—and that’s tricky. Rather, it provides general concepts and some specific tactical advice that readers can use to adjust their games in a winning direction.

I cannot imagine that a decent playing reader won’t recoup his or her investment in Advanced Limit Hold Em Strategies many times over. [img]/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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