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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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  #2  
Old 11-24-2007, 11:07 PM
smbruin22 smbruin22 is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

thanks, good review... curious about the "illusion of action"... is it more or less vital in NL? could argue either way.
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  #3  
Old 11-24-2007, 11:19 PM
Heisenb3rg Heisenb3rg is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

The illusion of action in NL is even more important IMO.

The difference in limit is that its much cheaper if you are up against a monster, and many more spots come up where you get to show your hand down... Thus its easier and cheaper in limit hold em... But getting payed off in NL is even more important.

This is because in limit, often the pots are so big preflop, that even if you play tight/predictable postflop, winning the pot strategically brings so much more money than an extra bet here and there.

In shorthanded limit this is less true, because hand ranges are much wider and preflop pots are much smaller.. Illusion of action is more important shorthanded.
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  #4  
Old 11-25-2007, 01:25 AM
Mason Malmuth Mason Malmuth is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

[ QUOTE ]
Barry argues that the Illusion of Action keeps the payoffs coming your way.


[/ QUOTE ]

I haven't read the book (even though I have a copy sitting on my desk and hope to get to it soon), but this concerns me. It has always been my belief that an illusion or action, or just a loose image, is precisely the way you don't want to play limit hold 'em. I have written extensively about this before -- see my Poker Essays books.

However, that's not exactly my concern. I've seen some stuff recently where the author (not Tanebaum) advocates an illusion of action but then proceeds to give many plays that are predicated on a tight image. So when you write:

[ QUOTE ]
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.

[/ QUOTE ]

I can't help but think the book is going this way. In the higher limits, especially if the game is short handed, you need to make all sorts of semi-bluffing type plays and plays that your opponent fears. This is not compatible with the illusion of action.

However, I'm not saying that creating a loose image is definitely wrong, even though I believe it is. But what I am saying is that if you go ahead and create a loose image, you then need to use an appropriate strategy consistent with that image. This would include much less semi-bluffing, value betting very weak hands, and going for extra bets and raises with hands that don't normally deserve this. Notice that is different from [ QUOTE ]
playing solid selective-aggressive poker.

[/ QUOTE ]

Anyway, when I do finally get to read this book, I'll make sure to address this topic.

Best wishes,
Mason
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  #5  
Old 11-25-2007, 01:34 AM
daveT daveT is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

[ QUOTE ]
Illusion of action is more important shorthanded

[/ QUOTE ]

With less players, you need to play looser to play profitably, and that requires thin bets and calls. I don't know if it is an illusion or not. But it could be argued that as the table goes to four and five handed, there is more than one loose style of winning, and no tight (20% vpip) style of winning.

Mason, I hope you post a review soon. I look forward to it. I am on the fence about buying or not buying this book.
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  #6  
Old 11-25-2007, 02:41 AM
tipperdog tipperdog is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

I reread my original post after reading yours and think I overstated things a bit--particularly with the phrase "crazy action player."

To be precise, Barry's text defines the Illusion of Action as "making enough plays that look like action (while generally still having positive expectation) that you get real action from opponents when you have the best of it."

So, it means cultivating a looser image, but certainly not a crazy loose image.

Anyway, I do look forward to reading your comments. I've always found your reviews helpful.
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  #7  
Old 11-25-2007, 04:18 AM
*TT* *TT* is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

Mason -

I haven't read the book (I have read the other title which Barry edited - wining shorthanded strategies) but flipping through Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy and speaking with others who have read the book the Illusion of Action that Barry discusses is not the same illusion you, Heisenb3rg or myself would assume he is discussing. Barry's Illusion of Action examples were equity raises that were also covered in books like SSHE and HPFAP .

When reviewing Barry's book its best to keep in mind who Barry's coaching students generally are. The Bear is good at opening up the range of weak tight Las Vegas locals as well as helping loose passive types learn when to properly use aggression (assuming the students learn well and absorb the material of course). Advanced Limit Hold'em Strategy seems to be tailored for this audience, the Las Vegas local who is essentially trading water with his or her play.

In short Barry's Illusion of Action seems to be nothing more than proper semi-bluffing from the outside looking in (I reserve the right to be totally wrong of course since I haven't read the book nor do I plan to - I am not the target audience). It seems like a good book for someone who is having troubles with the basics of limit hold'em theory after pre-flop play - aka limit hold'em 102. I think the difference is purely semantics, Barry didn't seem to be advocating overtly loose and agressive play.


I'm looking forward to your opinion of the book.
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  #8  
Old 11-25-2007, 05:58 AM
Mason Malmuth Mason Malmuth is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

[ QUOTE ]
With less players, you need to play looser to play profitably

[/ QUOTE ]

I agree.

[ QUOTE ]
and that requires thin bets

[/ QUOTE ]

[ QUOTE ]
and calls

[/ QUOTE ]

Not necessarily. You would prefer to get folds on may of your bets and raises.

Best wishes,
Mason
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  #9  
Old 11-25-2007, 06:02 AM
Mason Malmuth Mason Malmuth is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

Hi t_dog:

[ QUOTE ]
To be precise, Barry's text defines the Illusion of Action as "making enough plays that look like action (while generally still having positive expectation) that you get real action from opponents when you have the best of it."


[/ QUOTE ]

I suggest you read Howard Lederer's limit section in the Full Tilt Poker Tournament book. He goes through a pretty good discussion, which applies to both tournament and non-tournament games, where he explains that you should fold some of the hands that would show a very small profit so that you can profit more on your other hands. I agree with this and think it's precisely the opposite from what you are saying.

Best wishes,
Mason
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  #10  
Old 11-25-2007, 12:32 PM
steamboatin steamboatin is offline
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Default Re: Review, Advanced Limit Holdem Strategy (Tanenbaum)

[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
Barry argues that the Illusion of Action keeps the payoffs coming your way.


[/ QUOTE ]

I haven't read the book (even though I have a copy sitting on my desk and hope to get to it soon), but this concerns me. It has always been my belief that an illusion or action, or just a loose image, is precisely the way you don't want to play limit hold 'em. I have written extensively about this before -- see my Poker Essays books.

However, that's not exactly my concern. I've seen some stuff recently where the author (not Tanebaum) advocates an illusion of action but then proceeds to give many plays that are predicated on a tight image. So when you write:

[ QUOTE ]
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.

[/ QUOTE ]

I can't help but think the book is going this way. In the higher limits, especially if the game is short handed, you need to make all sorts of semi-bluffing type plays and plays that your opponent fears. This is not compatible with the illusion of action.

However, I'm not saying that creating a loose image is definitely wrong, even though I believe it is. But what I am saying is that if you go ahead and create a loose image, you then need to use an appropriate strategy consistent with that image. This would include much less semi-bluffing, value betting very weak hands, and going for extra bets and raises with hands that don't normally deserve this. Notice that is different from [ QUOTE ]
playing solid selective-aggressive poker.

[/ QUOTE ]

Anyway, when I do finally get to read this book, I'll make sure to address this topic.

Best wishes,
Mason

[/ QUOTE ]

I am really interested in your review. I have read the boook twice, studied it a little and I like it a lot. It is one of the few non-2+2 books that I would recommend.

His definition of an Illusion of Action play is basically how to mix up your play without spewing chips. Like occasionally raising in posistion with hands you normally limp. Showing a bluff from time to time and pushing a premium draw so that your opponents don't automatically know to fold when you bet because you only bet a made hand, etc.

I really liked the section about Illusion of Action plays and he mentions them throughout the book. He also states numerous times, that if they are calling your raises anyway, then don't make any Illusion of Action plays, just keep playing tight. Illusion of Action plays are for mixing up your game when your raises get too much respect.

Mason, I think after you read the book, you won't have any problem with Barry's Illusion of Action plays. I think the entire book makes a lot of sense.
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