“Tournament Poker” Review

[LL] “Tom McEvoy’s Tournament Poker is a dense 424-page tome,” Leroy the Lion began

[RR] “Is ‘dense’ a good thing or a bad thing?” Roderick the Rock interrupted.

[LL] “That depends. If it makes me feel dense, then I don’t like it. But in this case, I just mean that there isn’t much fluff. It’s lot of meat and potatoes.”

[RR] “Which you like.”

[LL] “Yes, the book covers general tournament poker strategy briefly before diving deeper into numerous variations: Hold ‘Em (Limit, No-Limit, and Pot-Limit), Ace-to-Five Lowball (With the Joker), Deuce-to-Seven Draw, Omaha (Limit, Pot-Limit, and High-Low), Seven-Card Stud (High and High-Low Split), and Razz. For games I was already familiar with, like Hold ‘Em, I could have used even more depth, but for the others, the amount of detail was good most of the time. Seven-Card Stud got a reasonable 76 pages, while the three lowball games were shortchanged a bit (18 pages for Ace-to-Five, 8 for Deuce-to-Seven, and 22 for Razz).”

[RR] “Does McEvoy find all poker variants to be roughly the same?”

[LL] “He definitely thinks there are plenty of common threads between them, especially in tournaments. For example, expect players to be their sharpest in the early rounds. Don’t get married to a hand, especially in games like Hold ‘Em where having the nuts is rare. In the middle rounds, you can steal from the tighter players. In the late stages after the money bubble, you should be more aggressive, especially against the shorter stacks and those whom you think are just trying to move up the pay ladder.”

[RR] “Let me guess, he thinks a tight aggressive strategy is correct…, and his concept of tight is much tighter than most players play now.”

[LL] “Yes, especially in the early rounds of events. But realize that part of that is because most of his opponents were tighter then, too. On the other hand, McEvoy wasn’t afraid to ‘double up or go home’, since if you bust out of a tournament very early, you’ve saved yourself time compared to busting out at the money bubble. He’s even okay with exiting on a semibluff.”

[LL] “Overall, I got a lot out of this book, especially in the poker variants I don’t usually play. His general tournament strategy may need to be tweaked somewhat with the recent change to deeper pyaout structures, but his overall plan is still appropriate if your goal is to win tournaments rather than just run deep.”

Title Tournament Poker
Author Tom McEvoy
Year 2004 (originally published in 1995 but significantly updated)
Skill Level Intermediate
Pros Detailed tournament tips for 11 poker variants.
Cons A little dated but not horribly so.
Rating 3.5

“Poker: The Real Deal” Review

[LL] “Dot-com millionaire Phil Gordon1 may be more famous for his various colored poker books,2” Leroy the Lion began, “but Poker: The Real Deal is his magnum opus (with help from Jonathan Grotenstein, who’s more of a writer than a poker player3). Their 2004 book covers the history of poker, starting with the invention of playing cards, moving on to the basics of Texas Hold ‘Em, and taking you all the way to the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Limit Hold ‘Em, online poker, the rules and etiquette of playing in casinos, and tells are all covered before No Limit Hold ‘Em finally enters the scene for good in Chapter 9 almost three-fifths of the way through the book.”

[SS] “Limit was the main game spread in casinos then, so that’s not a surprise”, Stan the Stat explained.

[LL] “Still, the text is breezily readable, almost making learning Texas Hold ‘Em fun. For example, your possible actions are compared to various tools. Folding is the flathead screwdriver, mundane but your most commonly used tool.”

[SS] “I think Phillips heads screws are more popular now.”

[LL] “Could be. Anyway, after saying that betting and raising are your power tools, the analogy silently disappears. Too bad, because I think the deep stack preflop all-in is like a sledgehammer…”

[SS] “Or maybe the top step on a folding ladder, you know, the one that says ‘do not step here'”.

[LL] “Yep, it could get help you reach your goal, but it’s also a long fall.

The book also has its ups and downs. One of the highlights is that each chapter ends with a short quiz, mostly testing what you’ve just learned4 and pitting you against various villains, the last of whom is Phil Hellmuth. Book recommendations are sprinkled throughout; they’re included to supplement the text, which doesn’t go deep into strategy.”

[SS] “And your verdict?”

[LL] “It’s like a starter toolkit. Neither you nor I need it, but it’s a decent place to begin for a neophyte.”

Title Poker: The Real Deal
Author Phil Gordon & Jonathan Grotenstein
Year 2004
Skill Level Beginner
Pros Well written and logically organized. Informal, flowing style makes a pleasant read.
Cons A fair amount on Limit Hold ‘Em (without even explicitly saying so). Not much depth and more than a few inaccuracies.5
Rating 2.5


  1. With three friends, Gordon started Netsys Technologies, which Cisco Systems bought for $95 million in stock in 1996.
  2. Phil Gordon now has four colored books: Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold’em, Phil Gordon’s Little Blue Book: More Lessons and Hand Analysis in No Limit Texas Hold’em, Phil Gordon’s Little Black Book: Beginning Poker Lessons and the No Limit Lifestyle, and Phil Gordon’s Little Gold Book: Advanced Lessons for Mastering Poker 2.0.
  3. Grotenstein claims to be a professional poker player but has no entry in the Hendon Mob Database, so he’s apparently a cash game specialist (and even then nothing about his poker playing can be found by Google). On the other hand, Phil Gordon has almost $3 million in lifetime tournament earnings, making him the fifth winningest Phil behind Ivey, Hellmuth, Gruissem, and Laak.
  4. My favorite quiz was one that didn’t: matching poker quotes with the movies they came from (and now I need to see the two of the eight movies I’ve missed).
  5. Most of the errors are the same ones all poker books of the era make: e.g., retelling the Nick Dandolos-Johnny Moss marathon that didn’t happen and claiming that Chris Moneymaker bought in for $40. He also includes the common misspellings of Nick “Dandalos” for Dandolos, Jack “Strauss” for Straus, and “Brian” Roberts for Bryan.

Card Player POY: Adrian Mateos

[SS] “Happy New Year!” Stan the Stat exclaimed.

[LL] “More importantly, good riddance to 2017!” Leroy the Lion insisted.

[SS] “You said the same thing last year.”

[LL] “I didn’t expect 2017 to be so much worse than 2016.”

[SS] “Well, you may not have had a great year, but Spaniard Adrian Mateos, at a mere 23 years old, certainly did. As did American Bryn Kenney, whom he edged out for Card Player Player of the Year honors in the closest race ever.1 Kenney tied the record of 5 titles and set the record with 23 final tables, one more than Mateos, and even won a year-high $8,201,128, over $2.5 million more than Mateos, who notably became the first non-American to win the title.2

Kudos also to Fedor Holz who followed a runner-up finish last year with third place this year.”

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%
2017 Adrian Mateos 7,220 Bryn Kenney 7,173 0.7%


  • Men Nguyen won the award a record four times (1997, 2001, 2003, and 2005).
  • T.J. Cloutier (1998 and 2002), David Pham (2000 and 2007), and Daniel Negreanu (2004 and 2013) have won twice each.
  • Negreanu outpoint second place by the largest (2004) and third largest (2013) margins. Merson (2012) eked by with the smallest margin. { January 4, 2018 update: Mateos edged Kenney by a mere 47 points (0.7%) for the 2017 crown. Fedor Holz finished third for a second consecutive medal finish. }

Here are the all-time records for Points, Titles, and Final Tables with data going back to the rule changes of 2004.

Most Player of the Year Points

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 2017 Adrian Mateos 7,220 4 22 $5,664,635
4 2017 Bryn Kenney 7,173 5 23 $8,201,128
5 2004 David Pham 7,068 5 15 $1,533,268
6 2016 Fedor Holz 7,058 6 15 $16,288,714
7 2009 Eric Baldwin 6,994 4 17 $1,494,494
8 2010 Tom Marchese 6,738 2 11 $2,068,658
9 2008 John Phan 6,704 3 8 $2,075,323
10 2015 Anthony Zinno 6,632 5 11 $3,442,769


  • David Pham was the first player to finish in the Top 10 three times (2004 [2nd], 2007 [1st], and 2008 [1st]). Jason Mercier matched him in 2015 and Justin Bonomo and David Peters in 2016. Many players (16 through 2017) have done it twice.
  • Erik Seidel and Jason Mercier are the only players to finish in the Top 25 five times. Phan, Peters, Dan Smith, Daniel Negreanu, J.C. Tran, John Juanda, Steve O’Dwyer, Erick Lindgren, and Joseph Mckeehen have each done it four times.
  • Vanessa Selbst is the only women to finish in the Top 25, which she had done three times with two Top 10 finishes before retiring at the start of 2018.

Most Titles

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 2017 Bryn Kenney 7,173 5 23 $8,201,128
2016 David Peters 8,601 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 Tables

Rank Year Player Points Titles Final Tables Winnings
1 2017 Bryn Kenney 7,173 5 23 $8,201,128
2 2016 David Peters 8,601 5 22 $7,370,255
2017 Adrian Mateos 7,220 $5,664,635
2004 Gioi Luong 5,006 $504,004
5 2004 John Cernuto 3,631 3 19 $460,789
6 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
10 2010 Sorel Mizzi 4,851 4 16 $1,524,371


  • Luong tops this list but is hardly a household name. The Californian has never won a WSOP bracelet, and his biggest cash was $290,792 for a runner-up finish in a WSOP circuit event in 2007.
  • While it seems obvious to have another list with the top ten in Winnings, it’s a rather uninteresting list topped by the 2014 and 2012 One Drop winners followed by eight WSOP Main Event champs.


  1. In 2012, Greg Merson beat Dan Smith by 60 points (5,100 to 5,040) for a 1.18% margin, while Mateos overcame Kenney by just 57 points and a mere 0.65%.
  2. Mateos first made a name for himself by winning the 2013 WSOP Europe Main Event in 2013 when he was just 19.

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“Poker Player’s Bible” Review

[LL] “You know the saying, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover’?” Leroy the Lion queried rhetorically.

[RR] “Of course. That’s why Amazon has a ‘Look Inside’ feature”, Roderick the Rock noted.

[LL] “The Poker Player’s Bible has the best packaging of any poker book I own. Not only is it a hardcover, but its mechanical wire binding means it lays open flat on any page. Inside, you’ll find beautiful color printing on high-quality pages. But…”

[RR] “There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?”

[LL] “But the content isn’t nearly as good as the presentation. It’s a decent introduction to Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha, Omaha Eight or Better, Seven-Card Stud, and Seven-Card Stud Eight or Better, but unfortunately it almost exclusively discusses the Limit versions of Hold ‘Em and the two Omaha variants. It’s incredibly neatly organized, covering Rules, Starting Hands, Position, Odds and Outs, Implied Odds, Deception, Semi-bluffing, Defending, Raising, Free Cards, Slowplaying, and Reading Your Opponents, but the book is ordered by those sections instead of by game type so you’ll need to skip around to read about any single game. I always read cover-to-cover, so it didn’t bother me, but I wouldn’t recommend that anyone try to learn all five variants at the same time, which is what the book clearly wants you to do.

And while I don’t expect much originality in beginner books, in this case much of the material is almost identical to Poker for Dummies, which Krieger co-wrote with Richard D. Harroch four years earlier.”

[RR] “Maybe that’s why he wanted to use a different order — to distinguish this book.”

[LL] “Perhaps, but that wasn’t the only bad decision. Despite all the pretty diagrams, he made some unfortunate choices that make things hard to read. Hole cards are very stylishly displayed, drawn like actual playing cards with bent corners, but this puts the suit and denomination sideways. Diamonds and hearts in the text itself are gray, which is actually worse than leaving them black as they’re faint. And in the section on betting, he crams way too much information into each diagram. He tried to clarify things by color-coding the action, but you shouldn’t need a decoder ring to follow a hand.”

[RR] “You’d expect a poker player to lay things out more logically.”

[LL] “Logic does not appear to be Krieger’s strength. Instead of the standard 13×13 matrix for Hold ‘Em starting hands with pairs along the diagonal, he concatenates a pairs column with the suited cards in the wrong direction (e.g, QQ is next to AJ) then lists the unsuited hands separately.

One final example before I lay the book to rest: in the Hold ‘Em section, page 90 says, ‘The nut flush is almost always the winning hand in an unpaired board’, which is not only unclear but either incorrect or understated. Most boards won’t have three of one suit, so no flush will be possible.1 If there are three of a suit, then the nut flush is always the nuts on an unpaired board.”

[LL] “In the end, I really wanted to like this book, but all its good advice is overwhelmed by its ample flaws. Beginners’ books should be easier to read.”

Title Poker Player’s Bible
Author Lou Krieger
Year 2004
Skill Level Beginner
Pros Beautifully mechanically-bound color pages that lay open flat. Solid, basic advice on five different games.
Cons Oddly organized with hard-to-read hole cards and some confusing diagrams.
Rating 2.5


  1. According to wizardsofodds.com, the “probability that no more than two of one suit will be present is (360+240)/1,024 = 600/1,024 = 58.59%”.

“Bad Beats and Lucky Draws” Review

[LL] “Just a year after Phil Hellmuth published his first book, Play Poker Like the Pros, he was back with his second”, Leroy the Lion explained. “The winningest World Series of Poker player in bracelets, final tables, and cashes had just caught Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan at nine WSOP bracelets when he put together Bad Beats and Lucky Draws, an impressive book of poker hands. The subtitle, ‘Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour’, is accurate, but you’ll be gleaning random strategy tidbits with no unifying theme, so you have many better choices (although his first book isn’t recommended) if your main aim is improving your poker skills.”

[RR] “So, you recommend Bad Beats just for entertainment value?” Roderick the Rock questioned.

[LL] “Yes, although what Hellmuth finds entertaining and what you find entertaining might not always match. The book includes almost a hundred hands grouped by setting, with chapters on the major festivals (WSOP, WPT, and European Poker Tour), brilliant reading of opponents’ hands, and hand stories told by other players.1

The Poker Brat’s first person perspective may lend authenticity to the hands he’s involved in, but a third party perspective could have made the book more enjoyable to read (as could the exclusion of the Bad Beats, most of which seem to be included just so Hellmuth could say that he played great but got unlucky).2 Still, the sheer quantity of noteworthy hands makes this an excellent read.”

Title Bad Beats and Lucky Draws: Poker Strategies, Winning Hands, and Stories from the Professional Poker Tour
Author Phil Hellmuth
Year 2004
Skill Level any
Pros Almost 100 important and interesting hands from 1974 to 2004.
Cons Strategy is only taught haphazardly. Hellmuth’s incessant bragging can be annoying.
Rating 3.5


  1. If you like this chapter, Steve Rosenbloom’s “The Best Hand I Ever Played” is full of them (52+ hands from 52 players).
  2. If you’re not a fan of bad beat stories, you’ll be disappointed that they’re not segregated into an easily skippable chapter.

“The Tao of Poker” Review

The Tao of Poker: 285 Rules to Transform Your Game and Your Life, Larry Phillips’s “follow up and companion book to Zen and the Art of Poker” is similar in many ways, with non-poker quotes and lists of general poker advice. But it also differs in many ways, as it’s less mystical and more directly applicable to poker, while it pretty much ignores its title. In fact, the sequel has more quotes about Zen than it does about Taoism, which is simply the hook to get you to buy the book. Phillips explains the Tao (‘The Way’) connection as an ‘attempt to get closer to the actual truth of the game — the underlying game, when it is perceived correctly’.

The title is surprisingly misleading in a second way: the book actually gives 287 rules, two more than promised. He could even have gotten into the mid-300s if he wanted to count a little differently as he gives nine poker ‘Excuses’, nine ‘telling looks’, 25 ‘common traps’, two ‘things that separate the good player from the bad player’, six ‘solutions to being off-rhythm’ and three ‘good poker rules’ (that somehow don’t count as rules). Furthermore, his last three chapters, including sections on ‘All-Star Idea’, and ‘Online Poker’ contain a fair amount of advice but just three numbered rules.

Phillips’s sequel lacks the charm of the original but is more useful, if just as repetitively repetitive. The Tao of Poker is worth a quick skim, but it can be a painful read unless you enjoy being told the same things over and over again.”

Title The Tao of Poker: 285 Rules to Transform Your Game and Your Life
Author Larry Phillips
Year 2003
Skill Level any
Pros Solid, high level advice that’s applicable to any poker variety (and even to life in general).
Cons Beyond repetitive. The book could easily have been a quarter of its 260-page length.
Rating 2.0

“Positively Fifth Street” Review

[LL] “Lots of poker players dream about playing in the World Series of Poker Main Event. Many poker-playing authors dream about writing about their experience in doing it. And a few lucky ones have managed to get paid to do it. Unfortunately, almost without exception, most of these book are filled with the lead-up to the event — the poker training (cue the Rocky music), the warm-up events, the obligatory airplane landing in Las Vegas, sometimes even a satellite event to qualify for the big one — because their stay in the Main Event doesn’t last long enough to fill more than a chapter or two.

Positively Fifth Street is the sole, notable exception. It has a great writeup of the 2000 WSOP Main Event because James McManus managed to last long enough to give a personal account of most of it.”

[RR] “So he got paid to play poker?”, Roderick the Rock wondered.

[LL] “No, McManus figured that as long as he was there… Harper’s magazine actually sent him to Vegas to cover several other stories:

  1. Women at the World Series of Poker.
  2. The impact of the growing crop of advice books and computer programs on poker.
  3. The death of Ted Binion.”

[RR] “A good old murder mystery?”

[LL] “Not at all. McManus actually begins his book by giving a hypothetical account of how Binion’s girlfriend Sandy Murphy and her new boyfriend Rick Tabish murdered him for a stash of silver and other valuables. Fascinating story, but its only connection to poker is that Binion’s family owns Binion’s Horseshoe, where the World Series of Poker takes place. Ted had helped to run the business for a couple of decades but had been banned in 1996, over two years earlier, because of his persistent heroin abuse.”

[RR] “Well, that’s more exciting than poker at least.”

[LL] “At first. Unfortunately, the rest of the story about how they almost got away with it but were later put on trial pales by comparison. But that’s when the poker part of the book picks up.

McManus gives a brief history of poker in Las Vegas, starting with a brief biography of Benny Binion, Ted’s father. He goes on to recount the story of Nick Dandolos and Johnny Moss’s supposed marathon poker match.”1

[LL] “Positively Fifth Street is really two books in one. For the poker player, his World Series of Poker run is a vicarious thrill that most of us just dream of.2 For everyone else, the sordid story of murder and the theft of millions of dollars appeals to the baser, more primal urges.

Title Positively Fifth Street
Author James McManus
Year 2003
Skill Level any
Pros Very well written account of the author’s journey to and through the 2000 WSOP Main Event.
Cons About half the book has little to do with poker and may not be interesting if you aren’t into sensational murders.
Rating 4.0


  1. The likely truth is that two or more separate events have been confused. Dandolos and Moss may very well have played a private poker match in 1949. And there may have been a public event at the front of the Horseshoe Casino after it opened in 1951. But neither Dandolos nor Moss had a role in the latter. Jack Binion spoke about the confusion in June.
  2. Despite never having cashed in a notable tournament before the 2000 WSOP started, McManus was already a pretty good poker player. He has since reached two WSOP final tables: the 2004 $5,000 Limit Hold ‘Em (4th for $70,080) and the 2006 $2,000 Pot-Limit Hold ‘Em (6th for $53,690).

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“Poker Nation” Review

[LL] “Nothing is more American than baseball, apple pie,… and poker”, Leroy the Lion claimed.

[SS] “Hot dogs and hamburgers”, Stan the Stat suggested.

[LL] “Both based on meats created in Germany. But I’ll give you both of those.”

[RR] “Football”, Roderick the Rock added. “American football, that is, not soccer”.

[SS] “For now. Unless they solve the concussion problem, football won’t be around much longer. Players are starting to retire younger and younger just so they have functioning brains for the rest of their lives.”

[LL] “And that’s one of the great things about poker, you can play it into retirement and beyond. In Andy Bellin’s book, Poker Nation, a 91-year-old named Iron Mike at the Winchester Club says, ‘You know, this damn game ain’t baseball, or basketball, or even golf. Poker’s a thing you do your whole life. I started playing when I learned to count. I always figured I’d quit when I forgot how to. And since that ain’t happening yet, the older I get, the better I get. What else can you say that about? The only trick for a kid your age is to try not to waste your entire time on the planet playing this stupid game.'”

[RR] “I’m sure that when I’m too old to even play golf, I’ll still be playing poker. Sure beats shuffleboard or bocce.”

[SS] “And yet it’s not a dying game like bridge, where the average age of players keeps creeping up.”

[LL] “Yep. Internet poker brought the average age down a fair amount, and the effect will hopefully last until it’s legal in most states again. I started gambling for pennies before I was a teenager. Bellin played for mini-marshmallows at age eight.

Poker’s a game that can be played by anybody regardless of age, gender, bankroll, or physical capabilities, and Poker Nation covers them all at home games, underground and legal clubs, and casinos.”

[SS] “Like baseball’s World Series, when the WSOP started, it was all Americans for a while.”1

[LL] “Bellin talks about the early years of the event and the history of poker leading up to it.2 Then the self-described semipro mostly covers his own experiences at the aforementioned locations over a period of two decades. He introduces you to players of all skill levels, from tell-ridden fish to stoic, soul-reading pros.”

[RR] “Did you like the book?”

[LL] “Mostly. Although the title reflects the popularity of poker in the U.S., Andy Bellin’s book suffers from bad timing, predating the online and Chris Moneymaker-fueled 2003 poker boom by a little over a year. Luckily, Texas Hold ‘Em, which would dominate the poker word over the next few years, does appear throughout the book, including in the main hand that ties the ends of the book together. Overall, Poker Nation is readable but random, sweeping but shallow, and entertaining but empty.”

Title Poker Nation
Author Andy Bellin
Year 2002
Skill Level any
Pros Entertaining and covers a lot of ground.
Cons More than you need to know about weak players in the author’s home games, including Bellin himself. Very little poker strategy.
Rating 3.0


  1. The first non-American to win a World Series of Poker bracelet was Sweden’s Thor Hansen in 1988 in the 19th running of the festival after 180 or so American winners.
  2. Although Bellin details the likely apocryphal, five-month Nick Dandolos-Johnny Moss match, which he places in 1949, he fails to mention the Texas Gamblers Reunion of 1969, which directly led to the World Series of Poker the following year.

“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!”


  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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