“Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold’em” Review

[LL] “As much as I like T.J. Cloutier poker playing skills, he actually may not be that effective as a teacher because he’s too talented“, Leroy the Lion bemoaned.

[RR] “You mean that he’s too good to relate to us mere mortals?” Roderick the Rock suggested.

[LL] “Exactly. In Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold’em, which he cowrote with Tom McEvoy, Cloutier says that you should be able to remember the 30 or 40 key hands from an 8-hour poker session!”

[RR] “That’s pretty much every hand I don’t fold preflop.”

[LL] “I’ll be lucky to remember 3 or 4, at least in terms of who was in the hand, all of the cards, and the approximate bet sizes. I can usually recall a couple of big double ups and bad beats…”

[RR] “And of course, the hand that knocked me out of the tournament!”

[YY] “That’s why hand recaps are so great when you play online. You’ve got a complete, perfect recording of every hand!” Yuri the Young Gun noted.

[LL] “He really needs a training course on how to remember everything he wants you to remember. This is one of the reasons why I like playing online so much… I can write down all the notes I want without anyone knowing or complaining.”

[YY] “You could use a HUD, too.”

[LL] “Yes, a heads-up display with everyone’s stats would be tremendously useful, but I’m sure Google Glass and its ilk will always be banned from live poker events.

Anyway, if you can get by the problem that you don’t have T.J. Cloutier’s photographic memory, the rest of the book is pretty good, albeit quite tight by modern standards, not that I’m saying that can’t work anymore if you adjust for how much looser everyone else is playing.

Although the book covers both the Pot-Limit and No-Limit variations of Texas Hold ‘Em in separate chapters, most of the advice applies to both. The differences are mainly preflop where in Pot-Limit Hold ‘Em, you can play more speculative hands like suited connectors and suited Aces because the raises are usually smaller than in No-Limit Hold ‘Em. Cloutier likes making pot-sized bets in No-Limit though, making the postflop differences even smaller. The all-in bet distinguishes No-Limit Hold ‘Em from Pot-Limit, but the book doesn’t really discuss it, as it conflicts with the authors’ conservative styles.

Some of their other main points across variations:

  • Observe how your opponents are playing. Everything depends on this, since the same exact bet from two different players can mean very different things.
  • In tournaments, play tight and solid early, open up during the middle stage, attack at the bubbles, but let other players knock each other out to get to the final table. Once you’re at the final table, play to reach third place, where the big money starts. Then you can play for the win.
  • If you want to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, which should be the ‘goal of every serious tournament player’, you’ll get better practice in single-table satellites than supersatellites as the former will have better quality players.”

The book includes twenty practice hands, which are loaded with high pairs and Ace-King, since those are the hands he wants you to be playing.

Before the conclusion, the book winds down with a couple of entertaining but not very educational chapters of poker stories (also sprinkled throughout the earlier sections) and an interview of Cloutier by Dana Smith.”

Title Championship No-Limit & Pot-Limit Hold’em
Author Tom McEvoy and T.J. Cloutier
Year 1997 (2004 update)
Skill Level Intermediate
Pros Fairly deep thinking about both Pot-Limit and No-Limit Hold ‘Em, especially for the different stages of deep-stack tournaments. Thorough preflop and postflop advice. Amusing anecdotes.
Cons Supertight style needs to be adapted for modern play. Too much “intuition” and fuzzy math. Expects you to have a great memory.
Rating 3.0

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WSOP Player of the Year 2017 – Chris Ferguson


[SS] “Another year, another change to the World Series of Poker Player of the Year formula”, Stan the Stat complained.

[LL] “It only seems that way”, Leroy the Lion amended.

[SS] “You’re barely right, but the two-year gap between changes is actually tied for the longest since the award began in 2004.”

[RR] “And then some players will complain, and they’ll change it again”, Roderick the Rock contributed.

[SS] “Probably. Kings Casino Rozvadov, host of the 2017 World Series of Poker Europe in the Czech Republic for the first time, sponsored this year’s WSOP Player of the Year contest, so they replaced the Global Poker Index’s complex formula with their own new and fairly simple formula, making each cash worth:

	(prize/buyin)^(1/3) * (buyin)^(1/6) * 10

You know who’s not complaining? Chris Ferguson and John Racener, who broke the Las Vegas record for cashes in one World Series of Poker summer with 17.1 With the new formula possibly overweighting smaller cashes, they continued their battle across the pond into WSOP Europe, where Ferguson cashed another six times, two more than Racener. Jesus finally sealed the WSOP POY award when Racener exited on Day 2 of the WSOP Europe Main Event. Along the way, Ferguson won the 92-player €1,650 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo 8 or Better for his sixth career WSOP bracelet, ending a 14-year drought.2 He still finished with the least money ($436,343) since Tom Schneider won with just $416,829 in 2007.”

2017 WSOP Player of the Year Top Ten

Rank Player Points
1 Chris Ferguson 1,178.53
2 John Racener 1,042.04
3 Ryan Hughes 994.35
4 Mike Leah 910.01
5 John Monnette 865.21
6 Kenny Hallaert 838.35
7 Alex Foxen 833.45
8 Dario Sammartino 775.89
9 Raymond Henson 768.49
10 Ben Yu 766.49

[SS] “Ferguson also closed in on the 100-cash mark with 97, leaping to fourth on the career leaderboard behind only Phil Hellmuth (130), Daniel Negreanu (103), and Erik Seidel (101).”

[LL] “Wow, he’ll be #2 by the end of next summer if Negreanu and Seidel don’t rise to the challenge!”

Footnotes:

  1. Ferguson and Racener broke Roland Israelashvili’s year-old record of 16. Ferguson previously held the record of 8 from 2003 to 2008.
  2. As large as that 14-year gap is, it’s a decade shorter than Chip Reese’s record of 24 years and currently ranks only 7th.

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“The Education of a Poker Player” Review

[LL] “The oldest poker book I’ve read is older than I am”, Leroy the Lion claimed.

[RR] “Super System isn’t nearly as old as you are”, Roderick the Rock countered.

[LL] “That was only the second oldest. Near the end of his life in 1957, cryptologist Herbert O. Yardley penned a classic poker book that has been called ‘the poker bible before Doyle published Super System‘. The Education of a Poker Player2 chronicles two main times in Yardley’s life when he played poker: as a young adult at a local tavern and later in life as a code-breaker in China.”

[RR] “Whoa, a poker book set in China?”

[LL] “Indeed, and one of the main characters is the author’s Chinese translator whom he teaches what he learned in the first part of the book.

Yardley’s book is entertaining enough to be read solely for its stories as most of the poker instruction is separated out in between the plot. But if you want to learn how to play various old types of poker — Five-Card Draw (with and without wild cards), Five-Card Draw Low, Five-Card Stud, and Seven-Card Stud (High, Low, and High-Low) — you could skip the story and focus on the poker. Then you’d miss what makes this one of the most readable poker books though; it’s even a bit raunchy at times.”

[RR] “An R-rated poker book?”

[LL] “Closer to PG-13, but still pretty out there for 1957. As are some of the poker variations in the third part of the book: Five-Card Stud with the Joker, Six-Card Stud (which gone the way of the B battery), and several Seven-Card Stud variations: Betty Hutton (9s and 5s wild), Doctor Pepper (2s, 4s, and Tens wild), Razz, HIgh Hand with the Joker, Low Hand with the Joker, Hi-Lo with the Joker, Baseball (3s and 9s wild with 4s giving an extra down card), Football (ditto but with 4s, 6s, and 2s), Low Spade-High Hand (a.k.a. Chicago), Low Hole Card Wild; and Five-Card Draw with the Joker, Low Ball with the Joker, and Spit in the Ocean (Five-Card Draw with Deuces Wild and a fifth, wild card shared by everyone.

Overall, Yardley’s instruction is a bit basic and a bit tight but can still be useful if you find yourself in dealer’s choice games with old school players as it mostly covers games that are no longer played in casinos.”

Title The Education of a Poker Player
Author Herbert O. Yardley
Year 1957
Skill Level Beginner
Pros Well-written with poker instruction interwoven into an interesting non-fiction plot.
Cons Dated (albeit mostly with regards to the poker varieties played) and extremely tight play.
Rating 2.5

Footnotes:

  1. Jon Pill’s review also goes into detail on Yardley’s career.
  2. Yardley’s book is not to be confused with James McManus’s 2015 novel by the same name. The poker author unabashedly borrowed the title from the older book because his young male protagonist Vincent Killeen occasionally plays poker and learns his skills from Yardley’s book. McManus’s story is well-written and worth reading if you like coming-of-age novels but decidedly not much of a poker book.
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Poker Hall of Fame Playing Card Deck: The Jokers

[LL] “The last batch is the inductees from 2017”, Leroy the Lion said. “Here are the Jokers:”1

Phil Ivey

J
O
K
E
R

Phil Ivey

J
O
K
E
R
Phil Ivey
Born: 1976/02/01 (Riverside, CA)
WSOP Main Event: 7th (2009)
WSOP Bracelets: 10
WSOP Cashes: 56
WPT Titles: 1
Live Earnings: $23,856,033
Poker
Hall of Fame
2017
Quote: “I want to win 30 [bracelets].” — Phil Ivey (after winning his fifth WSOP bracelet in 2005).
  • Was the 2003 WSOP Main Event final table bubble boy.
  • Has won a record ten non-Hold ‘Em WSOP bracelets.
  • Owns a record five mixed game WSOP bracelets.

David “Devilfish” Ulliott

J
O
K
E
R

David Ulliott

J
O
K
E
R
David Ulliott
Born: 1954/04/01 (England)
WSOP Main Event: 72nd (2004)
WSOP Bracelets: 1
WSOP Cashes: 33
WPT Titles: 1
Live Earnings: $6,218,292
Poker
Hall of Fame
2017
Quote: “I used to play in a lot of dodgy places and dirty clubs. You would have to go in and out through the back fire escapes. I always carried a gun in my pocket because the problem for me wasn’t winning the money, it was getting out with it.” — David Ulliott (October 21, 2010 interview in The Telegraph)
  • Nicknamed “Devilfish” by Steve Au-Yeung for the ugly but poisonous fish.
  • Won Britain’s Late Night Poker, the first TV show featuring hole cams in 1999.
  • Had his own online poker site called Devilfish Poker.

Footnotes:

  1. Cards may not display properly unless you view this post by itself.

    Stats current as of August 1, 2017.

  2. Caricatures and cards are Copyright © 2017 Robert Jen and were created with help from the iOS app Caricature Me and the MacOS app Photoshop Elements.

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