“Kill Everyone” Review

[DD] “The last of the three books I got was Kill Everyone, the sequel to Lee Nelson and Steven Heston’s1 2006 Kill Phil: The Fast Track to Success in No-Limit Hold ’em Poker Tournaments. The older book presented a simplified long-ball tournament strategy to use against better opponents, which the newer book expands to all types of opponents and all games.”2

[LL] “I hope these weren’t as violent as Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and Kill Bill, Vol. 2“, Leroy the Lion remarked.

[DD] “Well, I suppose you’re taking your opponents’ tournament lives, but the range is more like petty larceny to grand theft.”

[RR] “And sometimes you’re simply goading your opponents into committing suicide”, Roderick the Rock added.

[DD] “Indeed. To segue from the last two books I read, Kill Everyone does have a short chapter on tells. The authors concur with Joe Navarro that the micro-expressions are key with good players, since they won’t have any Oreo-obvious tells. Then these fourteen pages focus on the blatant tells that beginners have, where beginners include veteran online players transitioning to the live game (and hence are less accustomed to handling real cards and chips). The short section also mentions verbal tells, with the best line being Alan Goehring’s response to Ted Forrest’s request for help as he pondered calling the former’s all-in bet: ‘I’d like to help you, Ted, but I’m involved in a hand now.’ Forrest folded to his nonchalance, which was what Goehring wanted.”

[DD] “But the main thrust of Kill Everyone is aggression. Your betting is rewarded by fold equity, since the authors felt that tournament players folded too often. To take advantage of that, you should make bigger and more frequent bets, even and especially all-in. What’s more, once you’ve shown a penchant for big bets, you’ll gain fear equity from your opponents who will now fold to your earlier, smaller bets because of the perceived threat of a bigger bet later in the hand.”

[LL] “That’s the ‘hammer of future bets’ from Sklansky and Miller’s No Limit Hold’em: Theory and Practice“.

[DD] “Right, except that Nelson, Streib, and Heston push the aggression much further, like trying to steal the blinds from under the gun, restealing, and re-restealing. They also suggest more frequent limp-raising preflop and check-raising postflop. The latter is particularly effective out of position against players who continuation bet too often.

They also do a nice job of exploring ICM, the Independent Chip Model for converting chips to prize money, even including an appendix on its limitations. One piece of math I’d never seen before though…, the authors present the bubble factor, which determines how tight each player should be playing based on the relative stack sizes of everyone left in the tournament. Unfortunately, they don’t tell you how to calculate the bubble factor but instead present some tables from which you can get a general idea.

Once you know your bubble factor though, you divide your pot odds by it to get your tournament odds. Since the bubble factor is always at least one, you need better pot odds than you would in heads up, winner-take-all, or cash game situations.”

[LL] “Like reverse implied odds but without the need for any future bets?”

[DD] “Same effect but applicable on every hand.”

Title Kill Everyone
Author Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib, and Steven Heston
Year 2009 (expanded from original 2007 version)
Skill Level Advanced
Pros A fairly simple but effective tournament strategy. Builds nicely on Kill Phil: The Fast Track to Success in No-Limit Hold ’em Poker Tournaments.
Cons Great against weaker and tighter players but may be too aggressive against players who are willing to call expecting to only be slightly ahead in a race. A bit muddled with multiple authors, including occasional contradictory comments by one person during another’s chapter.
Rating 4.0


  1. Tysen Streib replaced Blair Rodman as the third author. Mark Vos also contributed a chapter.
  2. The book still mostly covers tournaments, but Vos’s chapter is on cash games.

“Verbal Poker Tells” Review

[DD] “The second book was also about tells,” Deb the Duchess continued, “specifically Verbal Poker Tells, Zachary Elwood’s sequel to his 2012 Reading Poker Tells.”

[LL] “Actions speak louder than words though”, Leroy the Lion contested.

[DD] “Maybe. But sometimes all you have to work with is what you hear at the table.”

[RR] “Or read in an online chat box”, Roderick the Rock contributed.

[DD] “Not covered in the book but not nearly as common as live table talk anyway.”

[LL] “I’ve had online opponents keep up a running monologue, I concede that was very unusual. I personally almost never typed in the chat box except at the end of an event.”

[RR] “We’re pretty much stuck with live games right for now anyway.”

[DD] “And Elwood does an amazing job with them. He’s spent half a decade collecting enough live examples to get a significant sample size, and then he went through literally hundreds of hours of televised poker to build his database.

For something that has always been more of an art than a science, this book makes a noble effort to sort out the meaningful statements from the meaningless.”

[LL] “Isn’t that what every book on poker tells has tried to do?”

[DD] “Maybe, but even from the beginning, Caro firmly planted the idea that every tell could be real or fake. Elwood presents evidence for what each tell usually means.

In particular, people (yes, even poker players) don’t like to lie. Talk when the pot is small is usually from weaker hands and isn’t as meaningful as talk when the pot is big, which usually comes from stronger hands. Elwood also covers other audio signals like coughs, timing, attitude, and common statements like ‘I’ve got a good hand’, ‘I’ll show you’, and ‘How much is it?'”

[RR] “So, how much is it?”

[DD] “$26.95 list, and I didn’t save much on that. But I thought it was worth the price, since as much as I liked Elwood’s first book, I thought this one was better.”

Title Verbal Poker Tells
Author Zachary Elwood
Year 2014
Skill Level Any
Pros A master’s thesis on tells based on a lot of real-word research.
Cons A fair amount of repetition, especially with some of the televised examples.
Rating 4.5

“Beyond Tells” Review

[RR] “Did you get any new poker books for Christmas?” Roderick the Rock asked Deb the Duchess.

[DD] “No, but I got myself a few old ones. I like to browse the used book stores, and I find a decent poker book every once in a while.”

[LL] “The poker world moves pretty fast. Are you going to be playing like it’s 1999 tonight?” Leroy the Lion wondered.

[DD] “Better than that… 2005. And the first of the three books I read is about psychology and poker tells, neither of which has changed much recently.”

[RR] “What was the book?”

[DD] “Beyond Tells: Power Poker Psychology. The author, James McKenna, is a psychologist, so he has a different perspective, which is good. Less than half the book is specifically about tells. He spends most of his time psychoanalyzing the various types of personalities and how that effects how they play poker.

The most interesting part of the book is when McKenna divides people psychologically into four quadrants based on Responsiveness and Assertiveness. He splits two of the quadrants into two subtypes, ending up with these six types:

  • The Boss: Reserved and Aggressive
  • System Player: Reserved and Receptive
  • Loner: Very Reserved and Receptive
  • High Roller: Responsive and Aggressive
  • Party Hardy: Very Responsive and Aggressive
  • Hunch Player: Responsive and Receptive

For each of these types, he lists their perception, playing attitude, playing style, strengths, body language, percentage of the U.S. population, needs, traits, preferences, and chips/play space. This was by far my favorite part of the book, although he also splits people two other ways: winners, losers, and nonwinners; and ‘always’, ‘almost’, ‘never’, ‘until’, ‘after’, and ‘over and over’ players.

A few other interesting sections of note:

  • Analysis of fourteen common poker sayings like ‘All in wins again’ (usually true), ‘Deuces never loses’ (usually false), and ‘You won’t be a winner if you don’t leave when you are winning’ (statistically true to maximize your winning sessions, but I’d say it’s bad for your bankroll overall).
  • Analysis of fifteen frequent comments like ‘One more time’ (he says this usually means the player already has a hand, but I don’t agree), ‘I’ll let you have it this time’ (usually when folding a weak hand), and ‘Loose call’ (usually the truth).
  • Comparison of each of Mike Caro’s 25 tells to a pair of contrasting playing styles. Although these tells are referenced throughout the book, this appendix systematically helps explain why each of them can have different meanings.

Although you’ll learn a fair amount about poker tells in this book, the biggest benefit may be in improving your own play by rectifying the weaknesses your game has based on what categories you fall into.

Title Beyond Tells: Power Poker Psychology
Author James A. McKenna, Ph.D.
Year 2005
Skill Level Intermediate+
Pros Some very good nuggets of wisdom, especially the Responsibility/Assertiveness chapter. The sections that aren’t about tells are very good.
Cons Slow build up to provide background. Examples are mostly Seven Card Stud.
Rating 3.0

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Card Player Player of the Year: David Peters

[RR] “Happy 2017, guys!” Roderick the Rock greeted.

[LL] “More importantly, good riddance to 2016!” Leroy the Lion reflected.

[SS] “It wasn’t all bad,” Stan the Stat suggested, “and I know at least a couple people who didn’t want it to end too soon.

Fedor Holz had a year for the ages. His $16,288,714 in live tournament winnings were the third highest ever.1 In mid-December, Holz led the 2016 Card Player Player of the Year race by 157 points and would have been a worthy champion. But David Peters ended the year on a tear with a third place finish to pass the German and a win at the wire to ice the title.

Peters won less than half as much money (only $7,370,255), but the Player of the Year award isn’t just about the money. The Ohio native reached a record-tying 22 final tables,2 won five events,3 and amassed an impressive 8,601 points; Holz’s 7,058 points would have won the award every other year except 20044. Most of Peters’s points came from High Rollers (eight finishes worth over 100 points), but his third place finish in the EPT Prague €5,300 Main Event and victory in the WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold ‘Em were his two best results (over 1,000 points each).”

Card Player Player of the Year – 1997 to 2003

Year Winner
1997 Men Nguyen
1998 T.J. Cloutier
1999 Tony Ma
2000 David Pham
2001 Men Nguyen
2002 T.J. Cloutier
2003 Men Nguyen

Card Player Player of the Year – 2004 to Present

Year Winner Points Runner-Up Points Margin
2004 Daniel Negreanu 8,764 David Pham 7,068 19.4%
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 John Phan 4,428 14.9%
2006 Michael Mizrachi 5,989 Nam Le 5,215 12.9%
2007 David Pham 6,562 J.C. Tran 5,748 12.4%
2008 John Phan 6,704 David Pham 6,022 10.2%
2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 Cornel Cimpan 5,934 15.2%
2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 Dwyte Pilgrim 5,576 17.2%
2011 Ben Lamb 6,036 Chris Moorman 5,875 2.7%
2012 Greg Merson 5,100 Dan Smith 5,040 1.2%
2013 Daniel Negreanu 5,140 Paul Volpe 4,298 16.4%
2014 Daniel Colman 5,498 Ami Barer 5,042 8.3%
2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 Joe Kuether 6,070 8.5%
2016 David Peters 8,601 Fedor Holz 7,058 17.9%

Most Player of the Year Points5

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2004 Daniel Negreanu 8,764 4 11 $4,420,221
2 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
3 2004 David Pham 7,068 5 15 $1,533,268
4 2016 Fedor Holz 7,058 6 15 $16,288,714
5 2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 17 $1,494,494
6 2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 2 11 $2,068,658
7 2008 John Phan 6,704 3 8 $2,075,323
8 2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 5 11 $3,442,769
9 2004 John Juanda 6,596 2 15 $1,204,389
10 2007 David Pham 6,562 4 11 $1,764,143

Most Titles5

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2005 John Hoang 3,267 6 17 $492,817
2008 Men Nguyen 3,662 10 $776,832
2012 Dan Smith 5,040 9 $3,673,806
4 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 17 $1,004,718
2004 David Pham 7,068 15 $1,533,268
2010 Dwyte Pilgrim 5,576 13 $1,074,997
2004 Can Kim Hua 4,495 12 $785,779
2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 11 $3,442,769
2014 Joseph Mckeehen 3,266 11 $1,223,852
2004 John Phan 3,080 10 $677,045
2009 Jason Mercier 4,130 9 $1,245,876

Most Final Tables5

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
2004 Gioi Luong 5,006 4 $504,004
3 2004 John Cernuto 3,631 3 19 $460,789
4 2005 John Hoang 3,267 6 17 $492,817
2005 Men Nguyen 5,204 5 $1,004,718
2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 $1,494,494
7 2010 Sorel Mizzi 4,851 4 16 $1,524,371
8 2004 David Pham 7,068 5 15 $1,533,268
2015 Byron Kaverman 5,342 4 $3,008,957
2004 John Juanda 6,596 2 $1,204,389
2005 Max Pescatori 3,381 1 $410,109


  1. The two biggest years were both fueled by the Big One for One Drop: Daniel Colman’s $22,319,279 in 2014 and Antonio Esfandiari’s $18,992,281 in 2012. Peters is the only player in the top ten who didn’t win the Big One or the WSOP Main Event.
  2. Gioli Luong also reached 22 final tables in 2004.
  3. Three players have won six events: John Hoang in 2005, Men Nguyen in 2008, and Dan Smith in 2012.
  4. Percentagewise, Peters beat runner-up Holz by the largest margin besides Negreanu over David Pham in 2004.
  5. The all-time records for Points, Titles, and Final Tables date back to the rule changes of 2004.

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