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Poker News | Poker Book Review

Harrington on Cash Games: Volume II

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The second volume of Harrington and Robertie’s cash game set picks up right where the first book leaves off, with play on the turn and river. As readers have come to expect from these two superb analysts, the thinking process that goes into every aspect of play is thorough, logical and creative.

By the time the reader is done with the first half of this book, he or she has access to a complete system of no limit hold’em play suitable for any level of stakes.

But the authors don’t stop there. Rather than simply exposing us to the tight-aggressive style that Harrington prefers in cash games, they also go into great detail about the loose-aggressive style that is popular among many successful players. Harrington details many of the favorite moves of these types of players, and outlines ways to not only play this style but also defend against it.

The second volume also contains chapters on a variety of topics related to cash game play. As readers of Harrington’s tournament books know, he is not a huge proponent of attempting to pick up tells from his fellow players. He tends to focus instead on betting patterns, and here he goes into much greater detail about how to analyze the other players at the table based on their bets. However, he also spends time describing a simple system for a player looking to avoid giving off tells to the rest of the table, which he feels is much more essential than trying to read others. While the steps he suggests would definitely take time to implement, involving rehearsing sequences of movements at home, and then using them randomly throughout play, it is easy to see that, done properly, and in combination with the betting strategies discussed in the first book, they would make a player very difficult to read.

One of the most valuable sections in the book details play at weak tables. The authors made what they claim to be a comprehensive study of live casino and online games, and discovered what may be surprising to some, but what my own experience tells me is quite accurate. They feel that the stake levels for weak play in live games goes up to $1-$2 NLHE, but online that same quality of play only exists up to .10-.25 NLHE. What follows this revelation is advice on how to play at these levels, where most of the plays described in the previous pages are irrelevant, due to the lack of attention that the other players are paying to them. There is a particularly powerful lesson on all-in play in weak games, and how it differs from higher stakes play.

The authors include a brief chapter with some simple rules for bankroll management and tilt avoidance, and finish the book with a true gem, an interview that Harrington conducted with Bobby Hoff, one of the world’s best cash game players, that shows two world-class players discussing poker in many levels of depth and nuance. It is a rare glimpse for the average player into the thinking processes of the masters of the game.

Once again, Harrington and Robertie have changed the landscape of poker writing. I can honestly say that I have re-read the tournament books at least four times, and I expect to use these two volumes even more extensively. While the system of play described is highly complex, it seems possible, with enough work, for someone to successfully incorporate the ideas in these books into becoming an excellent no limit cash game player.

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