Review of Mastering No-Limit Hold'em

Title: Mastering No-Limit Hold'em
Author: Russell Fox and Scott T. Harker
Publisher: ConJelCo
Date: 2005
ISBN: 1-886070-21-0
Pages: 212

Reviewed by Nick Christenson, npc@jetcafe.org

May 23, 2005

Due to the influence of televised poker, cash no-limit Hold'em games are more popular now than they have ever been. In jurisdictions where these games are legal, nearly every card room spreads some sort of no-limit game, usually with a capped buy-in. Despite their popularity, very little has been written about how to play in these games. In Mastering No-Limit Hold'em Russ Fox and Scott Harker provide the information necessary for players to make the transition from limit to no-limit Hold'em.

One thing I noticed immediately upon reading this book is that the authors have elected not to provide some of the introductory material customarily found in poker books. They do not explain how the game is dealt or the rank of hands. They assume that the reader comes to this book with a basic understanding of Texas hold'em. So, those who haven't played casino Hold'em before may want to get themselves another book to learn the mechanics of the game. For myself, however, I'm appreciative that I don't need to read through this material yet one more time.

Even though Mastering No-Limit Hold'em assumes that the reader has played casino poker before, the authors specifically aim this book at those with little or no no-limit experience. Basically, the target audience are those who have played limit hold'em and want a solid foundation for moving to no-limit games. This book provides a great deal of information on successfully making that transition.

In the book, Fox and Harker provide specific recommendations for play on each betting round. They also cover many of the other considerations one needs to become a successful big bet poker player. Information on stack size considerations, adjusting to opponents, the importance of position, the effect of the rake on play, and mental aspects of the game are all provided in this book. Generally, the authors do a pretty good job of providing reasonable material on all of these topics.

Additional helpful material is provided at the end of the book. The authors include a quiz on the play of hands. With some of their examples I believe that one might reasonably make a different decision than the ones the authors recommend, but their selections are generally reasonable. Fox and Harker include an interesting session where they catalog all the hands one of them received during an eight hour poker session. In some cases I would like to have been given more information about the circumstances under which the hand was played. Nonetheless, these examples are worth reading. The authors also provide some good suggestions for recommended further reading.

I believe that Mastering No-Limit Hold'em is a good introduction for players who are getting started in no-limit Hold'em cash games. I do have some reservations about the book, however. Different sections of the book can seem to give conflicting information about playing certain situations. These situations could have been reconciled more clearly if the authors had been more precise in their writing. Also, while the book covers a lot of ground, the authors don't go into as much depth as they might have. Consequently, those with significant no-limit experience aren't all that likely to find a lot of material here that they had not already considered. Still, it's entirely possible that intermediate-level no-limit Hold'em players will find ideas of value in this book.

Given the explosion in popularity of no-limit Hold'em cash games there is a need for information to help players make the transition to these games. While it has some flaws, Mastering No-Limit Hold'em is a solid book on introducing winning no-limit Hold'em to limit players. The more experience and success a player has in these games, the less valuable this book will be, but for new players, this is a pretty good place to start.

Capsule:

Russ Fox and Scott Harker have filled an important gap in the poker literature by writing a book designed to help experienced limit hold'em players make the transition to no-limit cash games. The book isn't without its faults, and it doesn't have all that much to say to folks who have considerable experience in these games, but it is a reasonably good introduction. I recommend it to those relative beginners who are looking for information to help them make the transition to no-limit hold'em.

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