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Poker News | Poker Book Review

A Review of 333 Winning Hold’em Tips

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Ralph Wheeler is a low-stakes hold’em player, best known for being co-author (along with Tom McEvoy and Dana Smith) of The Championship Table.  Now, he has written 333 Winning Hold’em Tips (Cardoza Publishing), a compendium of what the author terms the best advice he has read in hundreds of poker books and magazines, combined with decades of his own experience at the table.

First, let me say that this book is clearly geared for poker players who are just starting out in the game, and are playing low-stakes hold’em cash games and tournaments. Wheeler has chosen a format in which each of the “tips” takes the form of just one sentence, with no follow-up explanation.  The book is divided into seven sections, beginning with casino protocol for players brand-new to the live poker experience, and moving on to chapters on topics such as limit and no limit hold’em, cash game and tournament ideas, and short game and heads-up concepts.

To put the book in its proper perspective, I offer up this analogy:  333 Winning Hold’em Tips is to most hold’em strategy books what a skeleton is to a full human being.  The basic outline is there, but the muscles, sinews and guts of what make some poker books truly remarkable are missing.  To be fair, Wheeler clearly intends to create this bare-bones structure by putting together a book that can be gotten through in a little over an hour, however, I think he could have maintained this format, but still had more of a flow from one tip to another to create a better overall picture of how to play the game effectively.  Instead, many of the ideas stand alone, and the tip that follows may have little to do with what has come before, other than (usually) being about the same general topic.

Probably the best tips in the book come in the section on short-handed and heads-up play.  Since this is often an area that gets short-shrift in many poker books, Wheeler’s perspective offers up some useful ideas on the aggressiveness required in this kind of game, particularly in regard to picking up dead money and properly playing position.  But many of the other sections simply rehash many of the most general concepts in traditional poker literature, without offering the reader any particular insight into why the ideas actually work.  Also, the book is definitely written from an “old school” perspective.  There is no real sense of the ultra-aggressive styles of play that have emerged during the Internet boom, nor any thoughts on how to play against these types of players, other than a few ideas on pushing back against bullies.

I believe that this book would be useful for a new player simply looking to remember many of the basics prior to going to battle on the felt, when there is no time to pore over Harrington’s books or one of the other classics on the subject, but there is not much here for more experienced players.  If you have been successful at all as a Hold’em player, you will have already absorbed these ideas into the fiber of your being from hard experience.  While I appreciate Wheeler’s effort in trying to put together a useful primer on the subject, in the final analysis, 333 Winning Hold’em Tips will serve only a very limited portion of the poker population.

*Read Clearspine's Blog*

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