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Poker News | Poker Book Review

Harrington on Online Cash Games- 6-Max No-Limit Hold’em Review

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With his three-volume series on tournament no limit holdem:
and his two books on no limit holdem cash games:
Dan Harrington revolutionized the way the average poker player approached his/her play in those disciplines.  Now, he has attempted to do the same thing in his latest book, the recently published Harrington on Online Cash Games- 6-Max No Limit Hold’em.  As the title suggests, this book focuses on a very particular subset of online games, and, in fact, is even more specific than the title suggests, in that he narrows his vision even more to teach the reader how to dominate at micro-stakes (.10-.25 blinds and lower) and small stakes games (.25-.50, .50-$1 and $1-$2).

Before speaking about the content of the book, it is worth mentioning that if you don’t currently own tracking software, such as Poker Tracker or Holdem Manager, and have no intention of ever buying such a program, this book is not for you.  Unlike his earlier works, which present an overview of poker strategies that are intended to serve the reader in both live and online situations, this book zeroes in on the types of players you will encounter online, and how to best combat them.  As a result, the author makes it clear that, unless you are using tracking software, you are basically playing in the dark most of the time.

Having said that, Harrington is at his thorough best teaching you, step by step, how to go about setting up a heads-up display that will give you all the necessary information on your opponents at the two stakes sizes that he wants you to crush.  He describes the various options that are available in standard tracking software, and explains, in detail, which ones have the most value to you on a day-to-day basis and which will just clutter up your screen.  For those who are not already well-versed in these programs, but have an interest in incorporating one into their play, this feature alone is worth many times the cost of the book.

Once he has helped you set up your heads-up display, he then goes on to describe the type of note-taking that is most valuable to augment the statistics that you will be accumulating on your opponents on a hand-by-hand basis, paying particular emphasis to the types of hands other players choose to push all-in with, 3 and 4-bet with, and show down after taking other dramatic actions.  He provides the reader with a useful shorthand notation that makes note taking efficient and informative, and gives examples of how they can be used to combat your opponents.

From there, he focuses a lot of attention on one more basic concept, ranges and distributions.  He explodes the fallacy of “putting someone on a hand”, which is at best a hit-or-miss proposition, replacing it with understanding, based on a player’s statistics, just what range of hands he is likely to be playing.  By utilizing the information in the heads-up display, you can see just how often a player is voluntarily putting money in the pot, and how often he is coming in with a raise.  This enables you to get a clear idea of what he might be playing, and decide what to do with your own hand based on your winning chances against his entire range.

This concept becomes the cornerstone of the rest of book, in which Harrington describes how to use this information to be consistently profitable against micro-stakes and small stakes games.  Through a series of both general concepts and specific, detailed examples, he takes the reader through both pre- and post-flop play, showing him how best to play against the wide range of players he will encounter.  Based on the other player’s history, which is detailed on the heads-up display, a large number of strategic moves are described that have the best percentage chances of leading to profits.

If you are someone whose attitude towards reading a poker book is “I was told there wasn’t going to be any math required of me,” you will be better served learning from a different teacher.  Whereas, in his earlier books, there was a limited amount of math to be absorbed in the midst of all the information, here the mathematics is central to the argument at all points in the book.  With the massive amounts of information available in the heads-up display and through accurate note taking, the author is able to construct tables and charts that detail fairly precisely where he is likely to stand in most situations at the table, based purely on the statistics, and convey the importance of that on every page of the book.

Despite the heavy reliance on the numbers, Harrington on Online Cash Games still has the familiar extreme readability of the author’s earlier books.  The book was, as all of his works have been, fairly impossible to put down, as each concept is built seamlessly upon those that came before it.  As always, the author gives us an intimate peek deep into the mind of one of the most successful players of all-time, as he deconstructs hand after hand for maximum profit.

If you play at any of the stakes levels that Harrington focuses on in this book, you will find a wealth of information that is certain to improve your game.  His thoughts on value betting, 3- and 4- betting, and proper flop and turn play will help you tighten up what, for most small stakes players, are huge leakage areas.  For anyone who is serious about utilizing the very real advantages that are available playing online poker, well armed with as much information as possible, this is a very complete introduction to how to do that as effectively as possible.  Harrington on Online Cash Games is a worthy addition to the author’s series of poker books, and is sure to take its place as another landmark in poker literature.

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