Saturday, July 01, 2006

Review of Small Stakes Hold'em by Miller, Sklansky, and Malmuth

I've been holding off writing a review of this book for a while now. The reason is that I'm really not impressed with the book, and the public opinion seems to differ from that. Given my history with being on Mason's short list of bad people it seems to me that any bad opinion I might have of the book would just be written off as sour grapes. Well, okay, go ahead and think that if it makes you comfortable.

I do recommend the book to most readers, and do think it makes a worthwhile contribution to the poker literature. But, I think it's way overrated and it's contribution is very small compared to the price and it has some major flaws.

The flaws in the book are typical of 2+2 books. Mathematically the writers of books published by 2+2 tend to think that the standard properties of the world include linearaity, continouity, two dimensional, symmetry, stationarity and other such mathematical properties that tend to make problems easy to analyze. Well, the world isn't like that and neither is poker.

I read the book about a year ago, and decided not to review it then. I've decided to do a long, somewhat careful review of it now because I'm writing a second edition of my hold'em book and want to make sure I addreess at least some of the holes in what's available out there.

I'm going to spend more than one post on a review. Right now I'm going to just close this first part with what my thoughts on the book had been after my first read of it.

I think Miller tried to integrate many of the ideas I had in my hold'em book with the ideas from Sklansky's Theory of Poker. I think he did a good job of doing that, but I'm not sure it was a rational thing to try to do. Theory of Poker is basically a cookbook of tactics intended for beginners. It's a very good book, but it's not theoretical. Trying to put some of my ideas into a theoretical framework that isn't a theoretical framework just isn't going to work out real well.

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