“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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