Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mason's book reviews

I ran across a collection of some of Mason's book reviews on

Here's what he said about my hold'em book.

The Complete Book of Hold ’em Poker (5) by Gary Carson. As hold ’em books go this is more interesting than most. Unfortunately, interesting and accurate are not always the same thing. While the book does contain some worthwhile and thought provoking ideas, it is flawed in other spots.

To be specific, it has excellent discussions on different types of games, how hand values change, and how different concepts come into play in different games. For example, Carson correctly points out that tight games are basically a “struggle for the antes” while aggressive games “add value to very strong draws.” He’s aware that when a multiway pot develops in a tight game it is different from a multiway pot in a loose game and that this can dramatically affect the value of your starting hands. He’s also aware that good draws gain value in loose games and should be played strongly at times, that not all flush draws should be played the same, and that backdoor draws add value to your hands. There are also discussions on other topics such as game dynamics and cheating that some of you may find interesting.

But the book does have its problems. Carson mainly ignores games where people are trying to play half way decently. Once that’s true, many of the hands that he recommends playing are unplayable. Many of the hands he would raise for value are no longer worth raising with, and most importantly he omits opportunities to raise to knock people out since presumably he would claim they won’t fold anyway. There is also virtually no discussion on how to play fourth street or the river.

In conclusion, this should be a very dangerous book if you are fairly new to hold ’em. That’s because Carson puts so much emphasis on ideas that can be very expensive once you are up against players who have any idea what they are doing.

On the other hand, if you are an experienced player who is having success, and you like to read poker books, you may want to view this book as supplemental reading. Just make sure that if you incorporate any of the unusual advice, that you have thought it through very carefully.

His conclusion about my book isn't very interesting, he actually said that about my book before I even finished writing, before he'd seen any part of it.

But I think his review says a lot about what Mason thinks about readers of poker books. He thinks they are idiots.

The condensed version of the review is that 1) Carson does a pretty good job of covering topics that aren't generally covered or aren't generally covered well.

2) Carson doesn't spend a lot of time on topics that you can find adequate coverage on from pretty much any other book.

3) Things that Carson recomends you do when you're on Mars might not work well when you're on Venus.

Therefore it's a dangerous book.

I guess he thinks I'm a commie or something.

I do agree with him that my coverage of turn and river is somewhat light.

But the book was getting too long -- I'd contracted for 80,000 words and turned in 100,000 words that I think was pretty tight. And so I convinced myself that if you play well preflop and on the flop you won't have a lot of really tough problems on the turn or river.

A future edition will have more coverage of turn and river play, much more coverage of no limit, and much more tournament coverage.


Blogger DMW said...

I would recommend keeping the nl and tournament stuff in a separate book.

I can understand Malmuths apphrension. It was very easy to over-apply concepts such as raising for value with flush draws, or to play too many "drawing hands."

11:21 PM  
Blogger Haley said...

Did you forget the automatic "-3" penalty for all non-2+2 strategy books?


1:28 AM  

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