“Beyond Bluffs” Review

[LL] “Just one year after publishing Beyond Tells,” Leroy the Lion began, “James McKenna thought the poker-playing public was ready for a sequel.”

[RR] “I take it we weren’t”, Roderick the Rock inferred.

[LL] “No, but it wouldn’t have mattered if he’d waited a decade. Beyond Tells was already fairly repetitious, so when Beyond Bluffs repeats what’s in the first book, the tedium is painful. ‘Response-Able’ playing and ‘Bluffing Styles’ both reappear, although the latter gets much more coverage. The 27 tells from Caro’s Book of Poker Tells appear in both books, this time listing the bluff counterparts.

On the plus side, most of his examples have changed from Seven-Card Stud to Hold ‘Em, albeit mostly Limit Hold ‘Em. Unfortunately, McKenna’s grasp of Hold ‘Em is significantly weaker. He repeatedly uses terminology awkwardly or incorrectly, like calling the river the ‘Hold ‘Em Card’, labeling a short-stack’s preflop shove of King-Queen a ‘bluff’, and describing being a ‘Calling Station’ as a ‘technique’.”

[RR] “Well, technically it is bad technique.”

[LL] “If you can ignore the pure poker parts of the book though, McKenna’s expertise in psychology does come through. He takes the four poker player quadrants (Reserved vs. Responsive crossed with Receptive vs. Aggressive) from his first book and applies them to both sides of the bluffing equation. He explains what types of bluffs each type of player is likely to try, and what types of bluffs each type is most susceptible to. This is by far the most useful part of the book and makes it worth reading.

Forced to choose, you should read this book over McKenna’s first one,1 but if the two books could be combined into one and reduced to about a third of the total pages, that book would merit four stars.”

Title Beyond Bluffs
Author James McKenna
Year 2006
Skill Level any
Pros Decent if you haven’t read McKenna’s first book, adding useful information comparing player types to bluff types.
Cons Fairly repetitive of his first book. Often awkward when talking about actual poker hands.
Rating 2.5

[LL] “But wait, there’s more…”


  1. I nevertheless rated the first book higher, assuming that you would read the books in order.

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