David Sklansky

Advanced Holdem Book Review

Hold'em Poker

for Advanced Players by David Sklansky

Review by Lawrence Gilbert
Sklansky's Advanced Players Book

Mason Malmuth

Advanced PlayersHold’em Poker for Advanced Players is a contribution by David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth. David Sklansky is one of pokers most respected theorist. Mason Malmuth owns Two Plus Two Publishing; a company that has introduced many poker and gambling books. Advanced Players is one of Sklansky and Malmuth's early collaborations. The objective of the book is to bring the reader concepts that were once only understood by the professionals. It promises that, with study, the reader will be well on his way to becoming a winning player.

Advanced Players is a serious book. Like many of Sklansky’s works, it is not meant to be read casually. Rather, it is meant to be studied like a textbook. The book is a great complement to Theory of Poker, a book that emphasizes concepts and theories that can be applied to a variety of games, but lacks practical advice. The material in Advanced Players is still steeped in theoretical concepts, however it offers advice on how to apply these concepts to Limit Hold’em cash games.

"Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players" is likely to appeal to the student of poker who wants to apply their learnings to become an expert on limit hold’em cash games. Many new poker players learn poker via no limit hold’em tournaments – which is the predominant game featured on television and the Internet. Many of these players are beginning to frequent the limit hold’em cash games with the same strategies they used to be successful in no limit tournaments. These players fail to recognize the nuisances that make limit different from no limit. The result is a high profit potential for those willing to take the time and study this particular game. This book is the perfect tool for those with this particular objective.

"Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players" was first written in 1988. Internet poker had not yet become popular and poker was not seen widely on television. As a result, it was much harder to gain experience. In 1988, the material introduced readers to concepts that were only known to professional players. With information much easier to come by today, most of these concepts will not seem new (who but the most novice player has not heard of semi bluffing?). However, the edition has been updated for the 21st century to include more relevant advice for today’s games. Thus the section on semi bluffing does not just explain the concept for what it is, but also contains examples on how and when to apply the technique to today’s cash games. Also, a whole section has been added on how to play loose and short-handed games.

Advanced Players is interesting in that it looks on the surface to be a basic how to book. It starts out by analyzing hand rankings, recommending starting hands for early, mid and late position, and listing strategic concepts and when to use them. Indeed, a beginning player would get just as much out of this book as any other how to beginning book. However the book is like an onion – keep peeling away and there is much more strategic insight to be gleaned. For example, the beginning reader may only look to the section on starting hand recommendations to determine which hands to play. The intermediate reader will more closely read about advice on considering the types of players that they are playing against and how to adjust these requirements. An expert player will take all this advice and then read about how other expert players will be viewing him and how to adjust accordingly.

"Hold'em Poker for Advanced Players" also contains a question and answer section at the end of the book. The reader can use this section to assess his level of retention of the materials. If he could not answer some of the questions, he can go back and study the book until he has mastered its contents. It provided a great barometer to ones comprehension of the materials.

In a nutshell, "Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players" by David Sklansky is an academic book with practical value. It can be read on many different levels, but is best read over several readings. It provides great advice to the aspiring limit hold’em cash game player looking to get a leg up on no limit hold players that do not understand the nuances of this very different game. It should be in every serious player’s toolbox.

Purchase Sklansky's Book

Holdem Poker for Advanced Players

Other book reviews by Lawrence Gilbert:
Harrington on Holdem vol. 1
Harrington on Holdem vol. 2
Theory of Poker
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