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on 17 May 2006
As almost a complete novice at poker, particularly Holdem, I wasn't quite sure what to look for in this book. However, I found it all. Whatever aspect of the game interests you, there's an excellent primer on it here.
Naturally, most of the book focuses on the strategy of the game. It's quite an intensive trip for a beginner; there are a lot of new ideas to take in. However, in my view that's a good thing - you really feel like you're getting your money's worth. Every concept is explained clearly, with helpful examples, and there are test questions throughout which help both for practice and to clarify more intricate uses of the techniques. The cartoons are a little distracting - the reference to Benny Hill below sums them up nicely. However, there aren't too many and the rest of the book is very sound, written in a style that's clear and precise, but still easy to absorb.
I was also impressed by the amount of consideration given to other aspects of the game. A section on online play reveals the differences between this, the reason for the game's sudden overwhelming popularity, and standard "live" play. There's a chapter on cheating (not how to do it, but how to avoid being suckered by it), a section on poker psychology, a discussion of other poker games, and - most helpful of all - a chapter on money management and how to use it to keep track of your progress as a player.

The book dispels the fog of mystery almost harshly, but in doing so reveals that the game is, after all, learnable. It doesn't rely on gut feelings or some innate psychic ability. To start winning games, all you need is an understanding of some concrete, provable ideas - and this book shows you how.
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on 2 May 2006
I've been playing poker for a good few years now and I really wish I'd been able to read this book sooner. 'Playing Poker to Win' is the only book I've seen on Hold 'Em that is useful both to complete beginners and to intermediate players who have been playing for a while and want to hone their games. The explanations and concepts are clearly and logically explained with a lot of examples to back them up. There are also quizzes at the end of each chapter to test your understanding of the material.

I've read a few other poker books and each of them has concentrated on some of the aspects of poker, but this is the only time I've had access to ALL the information I've needed in one place. This is an extremely comprehensive book, and covers all the aspects of playing poker, from betting strategy; general playing considerations; pot odds; playing the flop, turn and river; poker psychology; tells; deception; playing styles; cheating; online play; poker tournaments; game variations... and the list goes on. It also includes all the tables of probabilities and calculating odds, which are invaluable to any poker player.

The book has made me realise that a lot of the time during games I was making decisions based on gut feel, not always the right ones, and has formalised and clarified the decision making process and the reasons why we should choose one course of action over another. In additon to this, it has been invaluable in understanding why the people you are playing against would exhibit certain behaviour and betting patterns. I would urge anyone to read it who would like to gain a wealth of information in one place without having to invest in many different books. There is absolutely no doubt that my game has improved significantly since reading 'Playing Poker to Win'.
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on 29 April 2006
What can I say, apart from "great book". I'd played a bit of poker with friends and online but had never read anything about the game before. A friend (who had regularly relieved me of money) gave me a copy of this book to read. What a revelation!

It's clearly written, easy to read and nicely laid out, with helpful reference tables, meaning that I have regularly turned back to the pages for a quick refresher. I'm not convinced by the (thankfully sparse) cartoons with their Benny Hill-esque humour, but otherwise it's hard to find fault. It covers everything from the rules for the absolute beginner, through simple strategy to more advanced concepts. There are also helful sections on online play, tournament play and managing your money, to name but a few.

So, as a releative poker new-comer, it gave me everything I needed and, as I have improved, I've introduced some of the more advanced strategy to my play. And, yes, it does appear to work, at least it has so far for me....

Overall, if you're looking for your first poker book this is definitely it. If you're a bit more experienced, well read the review above.
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on 5 July 2006

Ok first of all if you new to poker BUY THIS BOOK!! and if you've been playing for a while but have never very seriously studied the game BUY THIS BOOK!

Now i had been playing no limit texas holdemn for just a few weeks yet i had learnt quite alot from studying and played comfortably at the lower limits online turning a healthy profit.

But this book is sheer genious and the authors really do need a pat on the back this will as quoted from the cover take you from that guy who pretends he knows whats going on to the guy who rules the table, although its not the only book you'll ever need if you take the time to study this books, you'll be playing great poker.

The book is also great value and light hearted in tone which is refreshingly nice to read, as if the authors are standing talking to you. The book leads you by the hand in a way which is very well structured first teaching you the rules etc in the best way i have seen presented then tells you some great theory, eventually explaining what you would do in different situations and why (with regards to the relative strength of your hand) later it goes on to tell you how you arrive at this information (since obviously you dont have it).

All in all this makes for a great book and i would recommend it to most people, i think even some more experienced players will find many great parts in this book to help their play. So really BUY THIS BOOK!! for a great grounding in no limit holdem.

Thanks alot
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on 12 April 2006
I'm a reasonably experienced player - a few years online and also in casinos. However, I still found a lot of use in this book. And having raced through it in a few days, I suspect I shall return to it. You can never read (some) poker books too often. I say 'some' as many poker books are characterised by poor writing style / editing and terrible anecdotes. And despite the astonishing rise of poker over the last few years, in the main, this still remains true.

This book, on the other hand, impressed me. The breadth of content is excellent, the writing style is lively and coherent, and there is plenty of solid advice. The design is clear, the contents are well-organised and there are lots of examples/tasks throughout to make you an active reader - just what you need in a poker book. A few (sometimes groan-worthy) cartoons are scattered throughout for light relief but personally, I enjoy the odd distraction. After all, too much time at my desk led me to poker in the first place.
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on 12 May 2006
This book provides a very easy and clear explanation of how to play poker. It is suitable for beginners but also goes into greater depth for more advanced players, especially when studying the complex gambling probabilities that underlie the game.
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on 27 April 2006
I've read a few books by the likes of Sklansky, Brunson, Harrington etc. which have helped me improve but they are either on Fixed-Limit (popular in America I understand) or are aimed at tournaments or complete beginners. This book is different in that it contains everything about No Limit Hold'em cash games (and a bit on tournaments) that you could possibly want to know. It is by far the most comprehensive and well structured book I have come across with the author taking you through each stage of the learning process with clear explanations along the way as to why certain actions are preferable to others. Just reading the 10 pages on bluffing would turn most unprofitable players into profitable ones.
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on 19 May 2006
A few years ago when the game wasn't so popular, the demand for poker books was dictated largely by the US market, which was dominated by limit hold `em. This was compounded by a simple but universal problem: good poker players couldn't write and good writers couldn't play poker.

Wading through Doyle's appallingly badly edited `Super System' or reading about T.J. Cloutier's bad beat stories in order to get a better handle on the game was hard work, I can tell you. Sklansky's `Theory of Poker' was all very well, but it was for limit hold `em only.

`Playing Poker to Win' solves all these problems. Not just good writing, but sound tactical, mathematical and psychological advice about no limit hold `em. It's an impressive compendium of all the things a player should be looking out for in their first year or two of playing poker: the rules, psychology, maths, playing styles, money management, and so on. Plus there are a good few percentage tables to boot.

If you're a beginner I would definitely start with this book. If you're an intermediate player, there's a lot for you to sink your teeth into. Either way, it will improve your game.
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on 1 August 2007
I took up poker about a year ago, learnt the rules and began playing the occasional game. I have been playing no limit hold 'em cash games online fairly heavily for about 6-8 months and I have picked up most of the basics fairly well. I have read a fair amount of professional tips on poker websites such as Full Tilt, as well as reading many articles in poker publications. Over the past month I felt that my basic skills could really do with brushing up, as I was making plays but couldn't be sure they were correct, or if they were I could not explain why. Basically I couldn't justify many of my decisions at the table.

To help brush up on the fundamentals, I decided to buy a few books. The first of the books I purchased was "The Theory of Poker" by David Sklansky, as this seemed like a logical place to start. I didn't class myself as a "beginner" due to the sheer amount I have played over the past 6-8 months, so decided upon the book by Sklansky as it seemed to be aimed at the intermediate or above level. However, it wasn't solely aimed at no limit hold 'em - which is all I am playing at the moment. While I have picked up some very useful tips from Sklansky's book I decided to invest in Playing Poker to Win as I believed it would be more focused on hold 'em - particularly no limit, and really help me to nail the fundamentals.

Having read the book from cover to cover over the space of a few days I can safely say that it was worth the investment - in both time and money. Not only has it brought a fair few new ideas to light, but it has also clarified upon many things which I had been beginning to do and think at the tables. I will certainly be reading over many of the chapters multiple times in the near future so that the theory can really sink in as I play. I believe that with lots of practice, this book and a few choice articles, you can become a very sound poker player with the ability to win in the long-run at the cash tables.

I would certainly recommend this book to either complete beginners (as everything is so well explained, much better than the Sklansky book I first read) and intermediate no limit hold 'em players who have been playing for a while but haven't yet read a lot of literature on the game. I think once you have all the basics in your head (there is a lot to take in, as you may know poker is an extremely complex game!) you can develop your own style. This book will help you learn most of the things you need to do this.
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on 23 May 2006
I hadn't played poker for a while and I read this book with a view to taking it up again. I found it a pacey and informative read, packed with information. I learnt much more than I'd ever known previously. Now ... where are those chips?!
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