“The Everything Texas Hold’em Book” Review

[DD] Moved to a new table shortly after the rebuy period ended, Deb the Duchess was pretty short-stacked but not so much that she needed to shove preflop. With A♠5♠ in middle position she limped and Iggy the Improver min-raised from the button. “Why so small?” Deb wondered aloud, hoping to gain some information.

[II] As the blinds folded, Iggy responded, “That’s my standard raise today.”

[RR] “That can only mean…” Roderick the Rock speculated. “What new book are you reading now?”

[II] “I’ve been running really bad lately, so I thought I’d go back to the basics. I’m about two-thirds done rereading The Everything Texas Hold’em Book.”

[RR] “Well, as beginner’s books go, that one’s not too bad”, Rod commented with a sly smile. “It even gets into some intermediate skills.”

[DD] After the blinds folded, Deb made the easy call, and the flop produced A♥8♠3♠. “Check”, Deb announced, hoping to check-raise all-in with her top pair and nut flush draw. But when Iggy min-bet, she called instead, since now she could see the turn almost for free.

The turn was an innocent-looking 6♦. Deb checked again to see what Iggy would do, and he min-bet again! The Duchess couldn’t fold but still didn’t want to risk her stack and settled for another call. The river was the 6♠, making her flush. One final check, expecting another min-bet, would let her shove all-in for just over the pot. Iggy obliged, and Deb counted to ten before announcing her all-in raise.

[DD] Iggy insta-called while flipping over pocket Aces for the full house, and Deb sadly showed her flush while getting up to leave. “You slowplayed that the whole way.”

[II] “No, I wasn’t trying to…”

[DD] Later in the evening after Iggy and Rod had busted out of the tournament and joined Deb, the Duchess asked the Improver, “What was all that min-betting about if you weren’t slowplaying?”

[RR] Before Iggy could answer though, Roderick intervened, “I didn’t think it would be fair to Iggy to say this earlier, but The Everything Hold’em Book is mostly about Limit Hold ‘Em.”

[AA/DD] “Oh!” cried Iggy and Deb simultaneously.

[RR] “It’s a bit of shame, too, since it’s a pretty good book otherwise.”

[II] “I agree. It has a straightforward introduction to Hold ‘Em and covers outs, pot odds, position, domination, and player types. It also has a bunch of great charts.”

[RR] “Yep, just don’t expect anything remotely useful about bet sizing. The two No Limit Tournament chapters that you haven’t gotten to yet don’t even cover the topic. While you can definitely glean some helpful information throughout the book, it isn’t appropriate for us No Limit players.”

Title The Everything Texas Hold’em Book
Author John “Johnny Quads” Wenzel
Year 2006
Skill Level Beginner
Pros Solid introduction to Texas Hold ‘Em. Includes lots of useful charts. Covers all the basics plus some intermediate material.
Cons Too much about Limit Hold ‘Em and not enough about No Limit. Except for the two chapters specifically about No Limit Tournaments, every piece of advice refers to Limit.
Rating 2.0 (out of five) for No Limit players; 4.0 for Limit players
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2013 World Series of Poker Schedule

[LL] “The World Series of Poker starts on Wednesday. I sure would love to play in it someday”, Leroy the Lion noted wistfully.

[RR] “Maybe we could set aside a few bucks from each of our tournaments to send someone to one of the smaller events each year”, Roderick the Rock proposed.

[LL] “I’d be in for that! But we’d need to collect $1,000 for the entry fee, and maybe another $1,000 for airfare, lodging, and spending money.”

[RR] “All the $1K events this year are No-Limit Hold ‘Em. Seven are open bracelet events, which begin on May 30, every Sunday from June 2 to June 30, and a turbo on June 19. If our winner is 50 or older, he can also do the Seniors event that starts on June 14. If the winner is a female, she can enter the June 28th Ladies Championship, which is now cleverly a $10,000 event with a $9,000 discount for women. So, of the 35 No-Limit events, 9 are $1K.”1

[LL] “Isn’t there also a Little One for One Drop charity tournament?”

[RR] “Yes, with a $1,111 buy-in, starting on either July 3 or July 4. Just a little more expensive but they’re re-entry events, which may bum you out a little if you bust out and can’t afford to rebuy.”

[LL] “Too bad the math doesn’t work out. Just collecting from our monthly tournaments wouldn’t be enough, since that would be too steep at $200 per event. But the weeklies could work, say 40 events at $50 each.”

[RR] “Except that you don’t play in those. You’ll have to just keep dreaming.”

[LL] “Maybe when online poker comes back, I can build my bankroll to five figures…”

[RR] “Or win a buy-in through a satellite.”

[LL] “… and then parlay a decent cash in the $1K event into a Main Event buy-in! When does the Main Event start this year anyway?”

[RR] “July 6. There are three Day Ones, and they’ll play down to the final table on July 15. The November Nine will reconvene on November 4.”

[LL] “I’m really looking forward to it, even just as a distant spectator.”

[RR] “Yeah, me too.”

Footnotes:

  1. Of the 62 World Series of Poker bracelet events in 2013, 40 (65%) are Hold ‘Em: 35 (56%) No-Limit, two (3%) Pot-Limit, and three (5%) Limit. Nine (15%) are Omaha, three (5%) are Seven-Card Stud, seven (11%) are mixed games, and three (5%) are Razz or Lowball. By buy-in, eleven (18%) are under $1,500, nineteen (31%) are $1,500, ten (16%) are $2,500, six (10%) are $3K, nine (15%) are $5K, four (6%) are $10K, and one each (2%) are $25K, $50K, and $111,111.

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Rounders Last Hand

[RR] “Heads-up has so much more psychology than full-table games”, Roderick the Rock asserted. “After enough hands, you can really get inside your opponent’s head, and in the last hand in Rounders, Mike pretty much understood Teddy perfectly and was able to use his aggression against him.”

[AA] “Well, it’s always nice to flop the nuts”, Al the Almost diverted, “but the key was extracting maximum value from his straight, which, having minraised preflop1, he did by checking the flop, turn, and river.”

[RR] “Teddy might have bet that way with almost any two cards, but I think he had a real hand, probably a set of some sort, and quite possibly a set of Aces, as he claimed, ‘That ace could not have helped you’.”

[AA] “Since he’d been playing so aggressively, he might think that Mike could put him on almost any two cards there and call with just a pair. And Mike’s actual holding seemed pretty unlikely to Teddy, so he expected to win the hand almost every time, whether Mike folded or not.”

[RR] “As much as the movie helped fuel the Texas Hold ‘Em boom, it’s unfortunate that it also portrayed string bets, pot splashing, temper tantrums, and cheating without nearly enough discouragement of those actions from the hero.”

[AA] “It was a movie, not a training video.2 I’m sure Miss Manners Guide to Etiquette at the Poker Table is a best-seller at Amazon.”

Footnotes:

  1. KGB was dealing and must have called from the small blind, although that isn’t shown.
  2. We covered Table Manners a few months ago.

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Flash replayer version of the hand (estimated chip stacks)

Full Tilt Poker formatted version, suitable for inputting into various poker analysis tools

Full Tilt Poker Game #0000010022: Table Teddy KGB's Place - 50/100 - No Limit Hold'em - 00:01:01 EDT - 1998/09/11
Seat 1: McDermott (41,400)
Seat 2: KGB (18,600)
McDermott posts the big blind of 100
KGB posts the small blind of 50
The button is in seat #2
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to McDermott [9s 8s]
KGB calls 50
McDermott raises to 200
KGB calls 100
*** FLOP *** [6d 7s Th]
McDermott checks
KGB bets 2,000
McDermott calls 2,000
*** TURN *** [6d 7s Th] [2c]
McDermott checks
KGB bets 4,400
McDermott calls 4,400
*** RIVER *** [6d 7s Th 2c] [As]
McDermott checks
KGB bets 12,000, and is all in
McDermott calls 12,000
*** SHOW DOWN ***
McDermott shows [9s 8s] straight, Nine high
KGB mucks
McDermott wins the pot (37,200) with straight, Nine high
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 37,200 | Rake 0
Board: [6d 7s Th 2c As]
Seat 1: McDermott (button) showed [9s 8s] and won (37,200) with straight, Nine high
Seat 2: KGB (big blind) mucked

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Rounders First Hand

[RR] Roderick the Rock reported back to Al the Almost, “I finally got around to watching Rounders1 again, and I definitely enjoyed it more the second time around, even though I knew how it would end. Maybe it’s because I know how to play Hold ‘Em better now.”

[AA] “Watch it a couple dozen more times like I have, then you can really understand its brilliance”, Al insisted.

[RR] “What I certainly appreciate more now then fifteen years ago was that the poker hands weren’t over-the-top straight flush vs. four Aces hands like other in most other movies.”2

[AA] “Yep, the biggest hand they showed was only a full house. Realistic.”

[RR] “That first hand against Teddy KGB seemed far-fetched to me when I saw it in the movie theater, but now I realize that it was just an unavoidable cooler.”

[AA] “Zeebo’s Theorem.3 Especially four-handed, there’s no way Mike can fold his full house. With A♣9♣, he raised from the button preflop and got called by Teddy in the big blind. Overbet his top two pair on the A♠9♠8♣ flop to make it look like a continuation bet and steal attempt. Slowplayed by checking behind on the 9♥ turn, which gave him his boat. And then bet and reraised all in on the harmless 3♠ river, which he hoped gave Teddy a flush.”

[RR] “The betting was too big — double reverse psychology or whatnot — but there’s no way to get away from a big loss there… unless he’s spotted a reliable tell.”

[AA] “Ah yes, the tell. People complained that no pro-caliber poker player would have such a blatant tell, but we’ll call that artistic license. If all Teddy did was twitch his nose, it would have been too subtle for most viewers to notice. I forgive them for the exaggeration.”

[RR] “What was far worse than the tell was Mike showing off his cards when he could have mucked them after folding because of the tell.”

[AA] “Yeah, laying down two pairs on the flop heads-up is pretty extreme. He might as well have admitted that he’d spotted the Oreo-eating tell, and Teddy didn’t take long to figure that out and smash his cookie rack against the wall. But Mike’s narration explains his rationale, claiming that the tilt factor was worth more than the tell.”

[RR] “Except that a good poker player shouldn’t be that easy to unhinge.”

[AA] “Maybe Mike expected Teddy to realize it out on his own anyway at some point. Rather than depending on a tell that could become unreliable and cost him a lot of money, he cashed it in for what he could get right then and there.”

Footnotes:

  1. Al and Rod previously discussed Rounders in The Basics of Texas Hold ‘Em.
  2. For example, The Most Famous Hold ‘Em Hand.
  3. See the previous discussion of Zeebo’s Theorem.

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Flash replayer version of the full house hand (estimated chip stacks)

Full Tilt Poker formatted version, suitable for inputting into various poker analysis tools

Full Tilt Poker Game #0000000022: Table Teddy KGB's Place - 100/200 - No Limit Hold'em - 00:00:01 EDT - 1998/09/11
Seat 1: McDermott (50,500)
Seat 2: Player3 (21,000)
Seat 3: KGB (62,500)
Seat 4: Player4 (16,000)
Player3 posts the small blind of 100
KGB posts the big blind of 200
The button is in seat #1
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to McDermott [Ac 9c]
Player4 folds
McDermott raises to 500
Player3 folds
KGB calls 300
*** FLOP *** [As 9s 8c]
KGB checks
McDermott bets 2,000
KGB calls 2,000
*** TURN *** [As 9s 8c] [9h]
KGB checks
McDermott checks
*** RIVER *** [As 9s 8c 9h] [3s]
KGB bets 15,000
McDermott raises to 48,000, and is all in
KGB calls 33,000
*** SHOW DOWN ***
McDermott shows [Ac 9c] full house, Nines over Aces
KGB shows [Ad Ah] full house, Aces over Nines
KGB wins the pot (101,100) with full house, Aces over Nines
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 101,100 | Rake 0
Board: [As 9s 8c 9h 3s]
Seat 1: McDermott (big blind) showed [Ac 9c] and lost with full house, Nines over Aces
Seat 2: Player3 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: KGB (button) showed [Ac 6h] and won (101,100) with full house, Aces over Nines
Seat 4: Player4 (small blind) didn't bet (folded)

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Preflop Odds Heads Up 4

[SS] “Okay, one last preflop matchup trivia question”, Stan the Stat promised. “You have almost no chance on this one, so I’ll give you the answer after you each take just one guess… What nontrivial preflop all-in matchup is the closest to a coin flip?”

[FF] “I always thought a pair of Queens against Ace-King was close”, volunteered Figaro the Fish.

[HH] “I’d go with something near what you mentioned earlier”, Harriet the Hazy suggested. “Like Jack-Ten offsuit against a pair of Twos.”

[RR] “Or the Queen-Jack suited against Twos”, Roderick the Rock recommended.

[LL] “Maybe something lower like Eight-Seven suited against the same”, Leroy the Lion offered.

[EE] “Yeah, it’s probably something like that”, Elias the Eagle amended. “I’ll guess the same but against Threes.”

[TT] “Since I get to guess for free / How ’bout the suited Four-Three / Against the ultimate poo / The offsuit Seven and Two?” Tyrone the Telephone attempted.

[SS] “All excellent guesses… well, maybe not Figaro’s, which is 54% suited. Tyrone was very close to the sixth best matchup: 62o vs. 54o where the Two matches a suit (the high card or kicker value of the Six almost exactly balances the straight potential of the 54). Fifth is 73s vs. 22 in different suits, and fourth is 97o vs. 22 with four suits. Third is what you all danced around, QJo vs. a pair of double suit-dominated Threes. Roderick just missed that one. Second is T9o vs. 55 with one matching suit. All of these are 50.01% for the better hand, as is number one, which wins by a smidge: ATs vs. 33 with one matching suit, which is so close to a coin flip that if you played it out 7,075 times, you’d only expect to win one more time than your opponent (50.0071%)! In all the cases with pairs, the pair wins with more sets and boats but loses to more straights and, perhaps surprisingly, pairs (and even two pairs sometimes because of the dreaded three-pair hands).”

[RR] “Very cool, Stan”, Roderick the Rock acknowledged. “But now that you’ve given us all of these mostly non-nutritious snacks, what about the meat and potatoes of all-in heads-up matchups?”

[SS] “I was getting to that”, Stan the Stat claimed. “When I was first learning how to play Hold ‘Em, I set out to memorize all of the common odds. I thought preflop all-in percentages would be useful, but there were just way too many to remember1. Fortunately, grouping the matchups into just eight general categories with their approximate odds is quite sufficient.”

[SS] “If neither hand is paired, there are three groups of matchups:”

Opposing Hand Equity Example2
Unpaired Dominated 70%3 KQo vs. K8o (75%)
QTo vs. JTo (73%)
Two Undercards
or Alternating Ranks4
65%5 AJo vs. 63o (65%)
QTo vs. J9o (64%)
Tweeners 57%6 A9o vs. QJo (56%)

[SS] “Otherwise with a pair, there are five matchup groups:”

Opposing Hand Equity Example
Dominated With Undercard 90% KK vs. KQo (91%)
Unpaired Undercards 85%7 QQ vs. 94o (87%)
Lower Pocket Pair 81% AA vs. KK (82%)8
One Overcard,
Possibly Dominated
70% QQ vs. K8o (72%)
KK vs. AKo (70%)
Two Overcards 55%* 44 vs. A7o (55%)
44 vs. QJo (51%)
44 vs. QJs (49%)9

[SS] “* Within a given category (when relevant), being suited is worth a few percent for the flushes (just being able to make a winning flush is worth half a percent), and being connected is worth a few percent for the straight possibilities. In cases where the flush or straight is one of the few ways to win, the difference for the weaker hand can be up to five percent (e.g., AA vs. AKs is 5% better than AA vs. AKo, and AA vs. T9o is 5% better than AA vs. T5o).”

[RR] “Why isn’t it always five percent?”

[SS] “All the hands where the weaker hand hits a straight or flush but would have had a winning pair, two pairs, or three of a kind anyway don’t increase the percentages. The straight or flush is superfluous in those cases. Similarly, suited connectors don’t get the full gain for both the straight and flush possibilities, more like just seven percent in the best cases.”

[TT] “If you’re all-in, while nothing’s been fated / Know the odds, lest your hopes get inflated / It’s better not to be dominated / Or for ‘Next Bust’ you’ll be nominated”, Tyrone concluded.

Footnotes:

  1. The total number of possibilities is 812,175 (52-choose-2 * 50-choose-2 / 2), but ignoring suits, there are only 14,196 (13^2-choose-2) to memorize.
  2. These charts are based on the tables in John Vorhaus’s Killer Poker by the Numbers, pages 268-275, but have been modified with help from Mathematrucker. All odds are approximate, within a couple of percent except as noted in some of the following footnotes.
  3. The full range is fairly wide, going from about 65% to 78%, with higher cards tending toward the upper part of the range.
  4. Having alternating ranks (e.g, QTo vs. J9o) makes surprisingly little difference (the weaker hand mostly needs to pair up in either case, and having two undercards can give more straight possibilities).
  5. The full range is fairly wide, going from about 58% to 71%.
  6. The full range goes from about 51% to 60%.
  7. The full range is fairly wide, going from 76.93% (KK vs. 54s) to 90.10% (AA vs. K2o with matching suits).
  8. The full range only goes from 79.75% (33 vs. 22 of different suits) to 82.69% (TT vs. 99 with matching suits). Vorhaus listed this as 80%, probably from rounding, but it’s definitely closer to 81%.
  9. The classic race, QQ vs. AKo (57%) or vs. AKs (54%), would also go here as the AK is effectively unconnected with only two Queens left in the deck to make a royal straight.

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