[LL] “I was pretty sure Zen and the Art of Poker would remain unrivaled as the worst poker book I’ve ever read, but Dennis Purdy’s Illustrated Guide to Texas Hold’Em is also a contender. Although the book is subtitled ‘Making Winners out of Beginners and Advanced Players’, the material is really for beginners only. Like Maroon’s book, this book covers Limit Hold ‘Em even as it acknowledges that television coverage is all about the No-Limit game (and casinos would soon follow suit).
The two books are very similar in actually being much shorter than they appear because of repetition. But while Larry W. Phillips’s book mostly spews harmless advice, Purdy’s can cause some serious damage to your game.
After less than thirty pages of overview, including inaccurate ‘relative win rates’ of the 169 starting hands,1 the meat of the book contains 150 ‘Practice Situations’. Each hand gets two pages, whether it needs them or not, including a diagram that tells you that ‘BB’ means ‘big blind’ and ‘SB’ means ‘small blind’ all 150 times. What that means is that the book’s 368 pages are effectively much shorter. If you include all the hands that are so similar to each other that the repetition is useless, this effectively becomes a much shorter book that could easily have shed half its pages without any loss.
On some hands, Purdy plays very tightly, but on others he bets like a maniac (e.g., capping the betting with a poor straight draw on a board with a possible flush draw). Mostly he plays too passively. Add in his bad beat stories that we don’t need to hear and errors like miscounting outs2 and miscalculating odds3 sprinkled throughout the book, this book earns a tie for the lowest rating I’ve ever given. If I had to choose, I’d prefer Zen and the Art of Poker, since it least has some entertaining quotes.”
|Title||Illustrated Guide to Texas Hold’Em|
|Pros||Large glossary (30 pages) but with unnecessary padding.4|
|Cons||Covers Limit Hold ‘Em; material wasn’t great to begin with and hasn’t aged well.|
- Purdy ran a simulation of a million hands, which was clearly far too few. The most egregious error is his claim during hand #136 that Queen-Ten offsuit wins 9.3% of the time but that jumps to 39.4% if suited. Being suited never has that dramatic a difference (three percentage points at best). He also ranks Seven-Two offsuit ahead of a staggering 30 other hands.
- Hand #107 states that a straight flush draw has 17 outs, but two of the straight and flush outs are shared, so there are only 15 outs.
- Hand #142 compares the odds of a hitting a set on the turn or river to the bet being faced on the turn alone.
- Once he’s explained that “Aces full” means a full house of Aces and another denomination, he really doesn’t need to include the other twelve denominations.