Review of No-Limit Texas Hold'em

Title: No-Limit Texas Hold'em
Author: Brad Daugherty and Tom McEvoy
Publisher: Cardsmith Publishing
Date: 2004
ISBN: 1-884466-40-0
Pages: 207

Reviewed by Nick Christenson, npc@jetcafe.org

September 5, 2004

Interest in no-limit Texas hold'em has exploded around the world. Just a few years ago, it was almost impossible to find a no-limit cash game anywhere, and a small percentage of tournaments were no-limit. Today, nearly every poker room of consequence spreads a no-limit game, and many tournament events are predominantly no-limit. This interest has been generated by an influx of new players who have been watching no-limit hold'em tournaments on television. Hold'em is a difficult game, though and good no-limit information aimed at a beginning audience is scarce. Daugherty and McEvoy's new book, No-Limit Texas Hold'em aims to fill this void.

As one might expect from two well-known and highly successful veterans of the tournament trail, No-Limit Texas Hold'em primarily deals with tournament poker. This is made clear by a statement early in the book that reads, "... no-limit hold'em is not usually spread as a cash game," a statement that is likely to be a bit more surprising now than it probably was when the authors first penned it. Tournament no-limit often plays quite a bit differently than a cash game. I have to admit, my personal preference for cash games leaves me a little disappointed that this book spends as much time discussing tournament specific situations as it does. Additionally, much of the advice given repeats what's available in other books McEvoy has authored or co-authored.

The book starts out by considering some of the fundamental principles of the game and discusses the differences between limit and no-limit. Then the authors go into discussing their starting hand recommendations. To me, this reads a lot like similar sections in Championship Satellite Strategy and Championship Tournament Practice Hands. Perhaps this isn't surprising, but anyone who has read all of these books is likely to find much of the material familiar.

The authors spend a good deal of time talking about appropriate opening bet sizes for various blinds and antes. Personally, I think it's better to think about bet sizing in terms of the initial pot size rather than the blinds and antes. This way, one can collapse the information presented here in two tables into a single statement, such as, "Make your default initial raise two to two-and-a-half times the size of the pot." Moreover, a statement like this still works when games with antes become short handed, something the authors don't spend much time discussing. In their charts, though, they do mention a stack size relative to the blinds and antes that they call the "Trouble Stack". However, they don't give any really specific advice on how play with a Trouble Stack that differs from playing with either a healthy stack or a "Move-in Stack".

Daugherty and McEvoy define some typical tournament player types, discuss bluffing, and then provide some sample hands. I don't completely disagree with the way they suggest playing most of these, but even under the circumstances presented in the book, I think several of their suggestions are fairly debatable. Needless to say, these authors have won many more World Series bracelets than I have, so take my advice for what it's worth. It would certainly be possible to subject their examples to a deeper analysis than is done in this book, but, of course, this is a book for beginners. I believe, though, that some of the most valuable information that can be provided to novices are examples of how an expert thinks about hands. This is still true even if the reader is not yet capable of performing similar analysis in the heat of battle. Therefore, I believe that a deeper analysis would be beneficial to the book's readers.

The book concludes with a brief section on no-limit cash games, some good suggestions about how a player can effectively practice, and "Brad's Crash Course in No-Limit Hold'em for Beginners." This is a brief summary of how to play the game in 20 pages. It's not bad for 20 pages, and the suggestions for poker practice are solid.

These days I see a lot of no-limit hold'em players who could certainly use the advice Daugherty and McEvoy present in No-Limit Texas Hold'em, especially those that are mostly interested in tournament play. However, I don't think this material is presented nearly as well as it could have been. Advanced players who have read McEvoy's other books or have read Reuben and Ciaffone's excellent Pot-limit and No-Limit Poker are not likely find very much of value here.

Capsule:

There are many newcomers to no-limit hold'em who could certainly benefit from No-Limit Texas Hold'em, but I don't think it's a very strong book. I believe there's very little here for players of intermediate or better skill, and there's a lot of room for someone to write a superior book on the topic aimed at beginners. I don't completely dismiss it for novices, although I believe this information could be presented better.

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