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Poker News | Poker Book Review

A Review Of More Hold’em Wisdom For All Players

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Daniel Negreanu is one of the best-known poker players in the world.  His outgoing personality, constant table talk and seemingly supernatural ability to read his opponent’s hands have also made him one of poker’s most popular personalities. For the sake of full disclosure, let me say that he is my personal favorite player to watch on television. In recent years, Negreanu has moved beyond just playing to become a multi-dimensional poker entrepreneur, being involved in video games, a web-based virtual training system, a syndicated newspaper column and the publication of three books, the latest of which is More Hold’em Wisdom For All Players.

 In contrast to Negreanu’s lengthy and comprehensive Power Hold’em Strategy, which was written in a Super System- like team style, with different players contributing chapters on a variety of subjects, More Hold’em Wisdom For All Players is a slim volume, consisting of 50 brief chapters that each cover a different aspect of hold’em play.  The 50 sections are further divided into four major topics:  1) Winning tournaments with smart play, 2) Playing your players, your position and (oh,yes) your cards, 3) Betting and bluffing with no fear, and 4) What’s the best play? Using poker wisdom as your guide.  

In reading poker books for review, I tend to divide them into two categories.  The first are volumes that attempt to give the player a complete or nearly complete understanding of a specific game or set of games.  The legendary Harrington books and the Super System series are probably the best examples of these.  The second are books that offer the player food for thought about poker in general, where one hopes to have a few “ah-ha” moments that tweak some aspect of one’s game.  This book clearly falls into the latter column.   While it will not cause you to completely overhaul your game (and it is clear that is not the author’s intent), reading this book will get you to think about a number of different areas where you might not be as successful as you would like to be, and work with the principles discussed to create some improvement.

One area in which I found Negreanu’s wisdom enlightening is his discussion of all-in bets in tournament play.  One of the tendencies in online tournaments we have all experienced is a player shoving all of his chips into the middle with small and middle pocket pairs, and hands like A-K, A-Q, K-Q and even A-rag.  It is possible that we have even gone down that path ourselves.  Negreanu is much more hesitant to make these plays, suggesting the need to save this type of move for truly desperate situations.  Noting that the more all-in plays you instigate, the sooner the odds will catch up with you to knock you out of the tournament, he advises conserving chips as often as possible to avoid these final confrontations pre-flop.  He presents a variety of strategies designed to continually protect your chip stack while looking for opportunities to hit a big hand and double up.  

One of the more fascinating aspects of Negreanu’s writing is that much of his advice seems to run counter to his table image as a highly aggressive player.  He is a huge advocate of calling bets and keeping pots small (the “small-ball” approach that he details in Power Hold’em Strategy), and is less concerned about the unlikely event of being drawn out on when he is ahead in a hand than he is about conserving his stack for a time when he hits the nuts.  Many authors have described giving away free cards as the number one cardinal sin that a player can commit, but Negreanu is almost cavalier in his lack of fear in this area.  Of course, when your poker playing skills are as strong as his, you have the ability to be aware of when the free card that you just gave away came back and beat you, and get away from the hand.  He recognizes this, and continually lets novices know that his advice for them is a bit different, suggesting much larger raises to try and end pots as soon as possible to avoid being outplayed post-flop.

One thing I keep hoping for when reading Negreanu’s books is that he will reveal the “secrets” of his uncanny card-reading skills.  Once again, I came away partly disappointed.  His discussion of tells doesn’t really add anything to much more detailed treatises on the topic (weak means strong, a player looking at his chips after the flop means a strong hand, etc).  However, he does touch on a subject that I believe is his true strength in this area, and that is “trusting your first instinct”.  He even describes it as possibly being the most valuable tip he can share with the reader.  After all is said and done, and you have gone over the hand to see if the betting patterns make sense, and you still don’t have any idea whether your opponent is bluffing or not, go back to what your first instinct on his hand was, and go with that.  

As someone who works with people and their nervous systems on a daily basis, I can tell you that I have observed thousands of people instinctively “get” what they need to change in their lives to create healing for themselves from a deep place in the subconscious.  This same fountain of knowledge is available to any poker player who opens him or herself to it.  What Negreanu does better than almost anyone is to be completely present at the poker table, allowing his higher mind to speak to him about what is occurring in the game, based on millions of hands of experience and a comprehensive attention to detail.  He encourages the reader to do the same.

The final section of the book deals with Negreanu’s own takes on classic poker topics such as playing pocket aces and kings, what to do with big slick and the dreaded A-Q, and hands that can get you in a lot of trouble.  His discussion of these, and in fact, all the topics in the book will have you going back to look at how you handle these exact situations in your own play, and trying out some of his suggestions to see if they work for you in getting to the next level of skill.  There really isn’t a lot more you can ask of a slim volume such as this.  You will read it quickly, but you will come back to individual sections of it many times over the years.

*Read ClearSpine's blog*

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