“Harrington on Hold ’em” Review, Part 2

[RR] Mingling before the tournament, Roderick the Rock sought out Iggy the Improver to see how his studying1 had gone. “Are you ready to join the hopeful hordes of Harringbots?”

[II] “Heartily! I devoured all three Harrington on Hold’em books in less than a week, so I even went back and reread some of the sections that I thought were the most important”, Iggy confirmed.

[RR] “Such as?”

[II] “Well, certainly the Elements of a Hand that you mentioned. I read that a few times. The Betting Patterns chapter about paying attention to what hands people are playing and how they play them was short but good. I definitely need to improve my powers of observation. Probably my memory too!”

[RR] “Don’t we all.”

[II] “The Hand Analysis chapter wasn’t entirely new to me, but Harrington states it very succinctly, summarizing all the preflop hand matchups on just over one page.”

[RR] “Is that the section where he says that everyone bluffs at least ten percent of the time?”

[II] “Yes. He calls it Harrington’s Law of Bluffing.”

[RR] “Dan was clearly talking about players better than this field! Mildred the Mouse would probably sweat and shake uncontrollably if she ever tried to bluff.”

[II] “She’s probably the only one here who bluffs less than you do though; if she’s as tight as a snare drum, you’re a bass drum.”

[II] “In the problems at the end of that chapter, he said one thing that really stuck in mind: if you’re first to act on the river with less than the pot left in your stack, you should bet your less-than-great hands any time you think you’d call a bet anyway. You might get a call from a weaker hand (and I suppose you also gain fold vig).”

[RR] “That’s very chess-like thinking. If I check, how will I respond to what my opponent does? A three-ply search tree.”

[II] “The Betting Before the Flop chapter was amazing. I got the general idea fairly quickly, but he went into so much detail I’ll probably never remember everything he said.”

[RR] “That’s where he says exactly what percent of the time you should limp and what percentage of the time you should raise to different amounts, right?”

[II] “Again, he’s talking about stronger players than we have here. I get it that you can’t make the same play every time, but he seems to give people credit for computer-like perfect memories.”

[RR] “Agreed. We’re neither that observant of nor that sensitive to preflop bet sizing.”

[II] “The Betting After the Flop was good but way too short, relatively. I understand that the complexity prevents a complete analysis, but Harrington copped out by telling you to ‘carefully study the problems’ at the end of the chapter. How do you carefully study almost 50 pages?”

[RR] “He had a lot of good ideas but couldn’t find the unifying themes, so he tossed out a ton of random advice and hoped some of it would stick.”

[II] “Same thing for the turn and river. He mashed them together into a mere fourteen pages, followed by seven problems. Great stuff but way too brief.”

[RR] “Funny, last month you were complaining that the books were too long; now you’re saying they’re too short!”

… {to be continued}


  1. See the introduction in last week’s article.

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