Poker Through the Eyes of an Amateur

August 16, 2006

Review: Tournament Poker For Advanced Players

While I was out of town this weekend, I had the opportunity to read through David Sklansky's Tournament Poker for Advanced Players. While I think this book is pretty useful, I do not think it is the greatest of the tournament advisory books. If you were to purchase this book, it would probably be beneficial for no limit hold'em players to have read Harrington's first two volumes prior to reading this book and for other players to have read a book or two on their favorite kind of poker.

First off, let me make one point very clear: this is NOT a no limit hold'em book. The concepts of this book are very non-specific when it comes to the type of poker you are playing, which is where I think most of its weakness (but also its strength) lies. It gives you just enough information to play good tournament poker, but is not able to account for the myriad situations that you run into in all of the various forms. That is not to say that this is a bad thing; this book was not designed to teach you to be a master at all kinds of poker, but to give you valuable information which you can then apply to the tournament style that you enjoy most.

By far, the most valuable information in this book is the short chapter on the Gap Concept. Most of you are probably familiar with this concept from other books you have read, but those authors merely scratch the surface of what Sklansky presents in his book. The book is almost worth picking up for this chapter alone.

The major meat of this book, of course, is in the quiz chapter. Like Harrington, Sklansky sets up lots of tournament situations for the reader and asks them how they would approach the hand. Though you may not always agree with his answers, there is always good reasoning and logic behind them. The best part of this chapter is that he presents hands from many forms of poker, including no limit and limit hold'em, razz, stud, and omaha hi/lo. You will probably want to read this chapter several times through.

The last part of the book that I found especially informative was the section on making deals. The other poker books that I've read don't really go into this a whole lot. Sklansky goes deeply into the topic and informs the reader of the proper way to make deals at the final table to avoid short changing themselves when they are on the short stack. The math is presented in a very straightforward and simple manner so that even those who are not especially great with numbers can grasp the concept.

Most of the other information in this book is probably already known by most serious poker players, but there are tons of gems sprinkled throughout the book that, though you may already be aware of the concept, are presented in such a way as to allow you to see it from a new angle. It will probably take several reads of this book to get as much as you can from it; I know that I will need to go back and reread it a few times myself.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend this book to any serious tournament player. Though it will not help you with any specifc form of poker, it will provide a strong tournament foundation that you can take with you to any form of the game. Though not especially strong on its own, I feel that this book makes an excellent supplement to books that focus on whichever type of poker you like the most.


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