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Book Review

Title:  Harrington on Cash Games, How to win at No-Limit Hold'em Money Games, Volume I and Volume II
Author:  Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie
Publisher:  Two plus Two
Price:  $23.07 & $23.07
Pages:  418 & 374
ISBN:  1880685426 & 1880685434
rating:  texas holdem poker book review stars

In Cash Games, renowned poker author and 1995 WSOP $10000 buy-in no-limit main event winner Dan Harrigton and co-author Bill Robertie reveal the key concepts driving today's no-limit full ring holdem cash games.

These two books will provide a solid foundation for intermediate no limit players trying to improve their holdem game or for limit players looking to transition to no-limit. This is a de facto treatise about Texas Hold'em in the form of two volumes for a total of 792 pages.

Harrington on Cash Games encompasses an in-depth analysis that provides various perspectives of the Texas Hold'em Poker game that will benefit most players in pointing out areas of improvement and correction of major leaks.

The topics covered include fundamental principles of poker, hand strength as a function of stack size, hand reading skill, metagame, in depth tight-aggressive style pre and postflop as well as loose-aggressive style, randomizing, big blind and small blind play.

Cash Games contains numerous hand analysis examples taken from real high stake games. For instance, Volume I starts with ten pages dedicated to the thorough review of a sample hand played during the third season of High Stakes Poker between Daniel Negreanu, Mike Matusow, Dan Shak and Dan Harmetz. Thanks to the hole camera, all hole cards are known. At each street, the authors present the likely analysis and optimal play of each player, like zooming in into the minds of top professionals, taking into account only the information available to each of them at each step.

Cash Games, Volume I is devoted to fundamental principles and to tight play. After reviewing some intermediate level concepts, the authors dwell on the importance of stack size, pot commitment and hand reading. One particularly interesting example is the case of a sample hand where a TAG player open raises 3 bb from UTG+2 with A♠2 and ends up collecting a very big pot through a nice deceptive play. The rest of the first volume is an exhaustive investigation of the tight-aggressive style.

The tight aggressive style of play is preached in half the books, i.e. the last two thirds of volume I plus the first third of Volume II. Dan Harrington is known as a TAG-NIT, and TAG is the dominant style of play in modern Texas Holdem cash games. The TAG style analysis is conducted through numerous hand examples, with chapters divided into preflop play, flop play heads-up or multi handed, turn play and river play.

There are dozens of problems to analyze along the way. The authors try to address the most common mistakes made by holdem players. Some key concepts are the "small hand, small pot; big hand, big pot" mantra; the fact that most play in holdem is "straightforward"; and the idea of balancing your actions by varying your play across all reasonable strategies.

The rest of Cash Games, Volume II contains chapters about the loose-aggressive style, tells, beating weak games and bankroll management. The LAG style described in the book is treated as an extension of the TAG style, extended with a wider hand range requirement and additional specific type of plays, such as the "squeeze" play, "check-call" bluff and "check-raise" bluff.

Beating weak games in an interesting chapter where a weak game is described as a game where players are for the most part straightforward, unobservant, one-dimensional, don't respect raises and draw chasers. Volume II concludes with an interview of Bobby Hoff, who is not well known to the general public, but who is considered to be one of the best no-limit texas holdem player in the world.

Cash Games belongs to the library of all Texas Hold'em players. Reading it will provoke plenty of thoughts, open new avenues of cogitation, help clog leaks and definitively improve how you play texas holdem on the Internet and in live games.

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