Thursday, June 29, 2006

11 Best books


I was reading 2+2 the other day and ran across a thread about the best poker books. I can't resist reading a thread like that and I was surprised to see not one mention of my hold'em book. I don't expect much mention of it on 2+2 because Mason really dislikes me and most of the posters on 2+2 go out of there way to please him, or at least not displease him. He does have a habit of banning people from the forum who displease him. But I was surprised to see no mention of my book at all.


When a similar thread came up on rgp the other day (asking about books for limit poker)two out of five responses mentioned my hold'em book and one mentioned my casino poker book.


In a thread on rgp a couple of years ago where someone asked about a good hold'em book, 5 out of the 10 responders recommending books recommended my hold'em book.


I really think there's something fundementally wrong with the kind of group-think that goes on at the 2+2 forum. It's always been like that, at one time Mason actively encouraged that kind of thinking. He doesn't actively encourge group think anymore but the effects of his old behavior remain.


I think at the time my book was written it was by far the best hold'em book on the market. Because of the growth in interest in tournaments and no limit since then it may well no longer be the best hold'em book. I'm not sure it even makes sense to talk about the best hold'em book anymore, back when mine was written hold'em basically meant limit hold'em ring games.


I thought about not posting this because it just looks like whining or sour grapes or something. But, I couldn't think of anything else to say today.

12 Comments:

Blogger Felicia :) said...

Mason is Mason. He's a math guy, definitely a brick wall. Can't argue with him, he just won't yield.

I like him, always have, but maybe that is because I understand him.

I disagree with him all the time though. Maybe he doesn't ban me because I'm a woman, who knows. I remember one time in a discussion about TPFAP and TJ's book, I said that regardless of the rating Mason gave TJ, it was the book that got me through the bubble, not TPFAP, and that was that.

Not only did he NOT ban me, but he didn't even get into an argument with me about it! Wonders never cease.

We talked about you a bit at the mod dinner. I don't know who even brought it up, but I said I figured you were just like the rest of us, FOS but fine in person. Who knows, you might be as crazy as I am in person, but I have heard rumors to the contrary, lol ;)

12:07 PM  
Blogger Chilly said...

I bought your book based on the chapter you posted on the blog. I loved it.

By far my favorite Hold'em book.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

I understand Mason quite well.

He doesn't consider you a threat, probably mostly because you're a woman, also because you openly defer to him.

Mason does think of the world as zero sum. He does not think anyone profits except at the expense of someone else.

Rigidity isn't a characteristic of math guys. It's true that many rigid personalities become math guys, but there's nothing about being a math guy that makes you rigid.

Mason's biggest problem is that he has a huge fear of things he doesn't understand and he tends to engage in a lot of avoidance type thinking and behavior when faced with something he doesn't understand. You can characterize that as not yeilding, I characterize it differently.

I still like you but when I noticed you were a moderator at 2+2 a few days ago I started to wonder whether or not you're actually sane.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...


I bought your book based on the chapter you posted on the blog. I loved it.

By far my favorite Hold'em book.


Thank you, Chilly. I still think it's the best limit hold'em book available, although I think the Miller book on Small Stake Hold'em is a good complement because he spends some time on turn and river play which is something I didn't cover as thoroughly as I could have.

I had miss-estimated the size of the book, contracted for 100,000 words when I really should have done 150,000 words. I'm pretty sure the second edition will top 150,000 words.

12:58 PM  
Blogger DMW said...

My 3 cents:

Yours was my first book Gary, I liked it a lot. The Ed Miller book is just more detailed and more advanced.


You tried to do a lot in one book [How to sign up for a game vs Changing hand values of speculative hands in loose aggressive games].

Consider cutting most of part 1 in the next edition. I think most people can figure out how the blinds work from other sources.


- DMW

10:27 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

I agree with you at least partially about Part I, dmv. The second edition will incorporate most of Part I in the rest of the book.

And I agree with you that the Miller book is more detailed than mine. His scope is more narrow, focusing only on loose,passive games, and he's able to go into more detail.

I think his added detail about the turn and river play is a worthwhile addition to the poker literature.

I'm surprised a rational person would see anything advanced about the book though.

I just opened it up to a random page and saw this sentence at the top of page 180. "The free card play punishes passivity".

That sentence is very atheoritical. It's based on a world view of "just desserts", not a rational world view at all.

The free card play exploits passive opponents. It doesn't punish. Poker isn't about punishement and reward. Winning isn't a reward given to you by the card god for doing things that please him, winning is a rational result from making good decisions.

I'm really curious what you see about the book that you consider advanced? I didn't notice any new theoretical contributions that he made.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Gary, I just picked your book the other day and I really enjoyed it. I've read the Miller book and think it's good too. Yours was better in some areas and Miller's in others. I would have REALLY liked your book if you'd have included more "play along with me" types of hand analysis.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

Eric, I agree with you that the Miller et. al. book is a good book and that it does some things better than was done in my book. I think the book is well worth reading, although I do think the book perpetuates some errors in thinking.

I'm pretty sure I'll be getting to some of that in the review, but like I said, it's going to be a long review.

But I think that part of judging a book is asking whether or not it acheives what the author wants to acheive or claims to acheive.

I don't think the book does that.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Gary, one area of the Miller book I thought was bad was that quite a few times he/they're talking about what horrible players you're up against blah, blah, blah but then they mention raising so the bad players won't call two bets without proper odds. They're bad players BECAUSE they call two bets on a draw! Yes in the end it's probably profitable that they call(for us), but their analysis seems flawed.

I must say the part of your book that really opened my eyes was the best hand now vs draw analysis. I've never seen it explained like that. Nice job.

4:52 AM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

Eric said...
Gary, one area of the Miller book I thought was bad was that quite a few times he/they're talking about what horrible players you're up against blah, blah, blah but then they mention raising so the bad players won't call two bets without proper odds.


This is an exmaple of what I was talking about in Part I of the review about the failure to integrate ideas from my book and ideas from Sklansky.

What he's trying to do in the part you're talking about is to apply the Fundemental Theroem of Poker to a situation where it's not applicable.

In doing so he falls into the trap of thinking if something is profitable to do that must mean it's optimal.

When you play with total idiots almost any rational thing you do will be profitable but that's not becuase you're doing the right thing it's just because you're playing with total idiots.

Eric also said ....

I must say the part of your book that really opened my eyes was the best hand now vs draw analysis. I've never seen it explained like that. Nice job.


Thank you

5:03 AM  
Blogger DMW said...

Advanced in Miller's book?

Off the top I would say the sections on "protecting your hand" demonstrate several clever strategies to force your callers into bad situations.

These are quite different from the 'bet and hope they don't get there' attitude taken in other books.

I look forward to reading your review.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

DMV said
Off the top I would say the sections on "protecting your hand" demonstrate several clever strategies to force your callers into bad situations.


I'm not sure clever is the word I'd use, but that section is pretty good.

The name is misleading though, it's not really about protecting your hand as it is about protecting pot equity. Not quite the same thing. But close enough.

The idea is a basic one -- the bigger the pot gets the more important it is to be aggresive. It' so basic that it's the central theme I tried to center The Complete Book of Casino Poker on.

His example of sometimes betting anb sometimes check/raising depending on who you think might bet and where they are in relationship to the rest of the field is based on an idea I covered more than once in The Complete Book of Hold'em Poker. It's an important idea and it's good that Miller/Sklansky/Malmuth emphasized it. It's interesing that a few years ago when I discussed the idea on 2+2 Malmuth said I was crazy and that kind of thinking would only get you busted.

Then I was talking about how you might want to play a strong made hand aggresively one way, and a strong draw aggresvielly the other way, or vice-versa, depending on who else might bet or raise. I guess that got too complicated for Mason.

One final plug, I wrote an article on position that relates to this for pokermagazine.com

1:12 PM  

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