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Book Review

Title:  Harrington on Hold'em
Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments (3 volumes)
Author:  Dan Harrington & Bill Robertie
Publisher:  Two Plus Two
Price:  $19.77 each
Pages:  381, 450 & 350
ISBN:  1880685337, -5353 & -5361
rating:  texas holdem poker book review stars

Dan Harrington is a very well-known poker author who achieved poker celebrity status when he won the 1995 WSOP main event. Dan was first a top chess and backgammon player before he spent the recent decades playing poker.

Harrington on Hold'em is considered by most Texas Hold'em tournament specialists as the reference guide for holdem tournaments strategy. This is really a three tome treatise on poker, but you can learn a lot by just reading one volume depending on your level.

In Volume 1: Strategic Play, Dan Harrington and co-author Bill Robertie introduce the essential elements necessary to survive all the way to the final table.

They start by emphasizing that in order to play a "hand" correctly, many elements must be incorporated into the decision, such as position, stack sizes, oppponents' styles, etc. The hand is the total of all these elements.

They present the various playing styles and explain why aggression is the weapon of choice in no-limit holdem tourneys. In order to "read the table", they mention physical tells, but they consider betting patterns to be more revealing about the strength of a player's cards.

Next they cover pot odds and hand analysis, discussing implied odds and starting hands probabilities. This is followed by an in depth presentation of their preflop methodology, broken down into five cases, (i) first to enter the pot, (ii) behind one raiser, (iii) behind one caller, (iv) in a 3-bet pot and (v) behind a few limpers.

They add their recommendations about dealing with a raise from behind, limping, carrying out the squeeze play and pushing allin. They conclude Volume 1 with postflop play. The concepts under review are the texture of the flop, typical hands, various types of betting such as continuation bets, value bets or probe bets.

Volume 1 ends with turn & river plays, such as second and third barrels, when to push allin at the river, playing drawing hands and how to extract maximum value.

Volume 1: Strategic Play will help you become a well rounded tournament player as it covers a lot of territory and is full of in depth hand analyses presented at the end of each chapter.

Volume 2: The Endgame follows Volume 1 with more sophisticated "moves". This includes various bluffs such as the preflop bluff, semi-bluff, check-raise bluff, the so called "dark tunnel bluff" & the "post-oak" bluff; and various moves such as slow playing, continuation betting, smallballing and blending styles.

Next are defined the famous M & Q and Mzones, which are very important tools designed to measure how safe a player is in the race against rising blinds and antes. The final chapters treat short-handed tables and heads up play which require a change of style.

Volume 3: The Workbook is fully dedicated to 50 problems taken from real tournament hands played by some of the top players in the world such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth or Scotty Nguyen.

For each hand, the situation is described and the reader is asked to answer a few questions about how he would have played as the hand develops to completion.

This is excellent material to test what you have learnt from the first two volumes, and you can compare your answers to the plays of these top players.

There is no doubt that Harrington on Hold'em will bring your game to the next level. The emphasis is on tournament play but holdem cash games specialists will benefit profundly as well as there is a lot of common ground.

If you read and digest all three volumes, your opponents will fear you. If time lacks, we recommend Volume 1 for beginner or player who need solid foundations. More advanced players can jump directly to Volume 2 which has the more elaborate and tricky type of plays. Volume 3 is reserved for expert players who know the content of Volume 1 and 2 and want to test their knowledge with the 50 problems.

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