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Review: Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide - Tournament Edition

7 August 2007

Harry Potter's latest adventure is great read, but can it help you win money?

Another popular summer release, Michael Craig's Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide Tournament Edition, can do just that - without all the wizardry.

Craig takes his readers to the magical land of Full Tilt Poker, where professional card sharks play for thousands of dollars, some of whom have gold bracelets attached to their wrists.

From theories on betting leverage to pre-flop statistics to an entire chapter devoted to online tournament play, this guide has a section for everyone. And it's written by players with proven records, acute poker minds, and PhDs to boot.

Craig, author of The Professor the Banker and the Suicide King and the Full Tilt Poker Blog, gathered the musings of Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Mike Matusow, Andy Block, Ted Forrest, Huck Seed, Gavin Smith, Phil Gordon, David Grey, Richard Brodie, Rafe Furst and Keith Sexton to help redefine tournament poker strategy.

An enthusiast of the game himself, Craig edited this collection while applying some of its lessons during marathon online poker sessions. The result was more than $50,000 in online tournament winnings last spring and a bankroll that translated into two live final tables at this year's World Series of Poker.

"I found I was spending more time online because of my work and I definitely wanted to try the things I was learning," Craig said. "I was playing a lot while I was writing and good things were happening. I was playing and winning. The more I thought about the things I was reading, the better I did."

The sections on Omaha, Razz and Stud contain deep essays with detailed analysis on how to translate drawing-game theories into tournament success, but the strength of the book is No Limit Hold'em, where the experts detail pre-flop, post-flop, different size stacks and online tournament differences.

Andy Bloch's treatment of pre-flop play is a must read for the intermediate player. Today's poker enthusiast is too familiar with the basics of starting hand selection, so Bloch goes deeper, adding elements of math and probability that allow for a greater starting-hand understanding and better insight on when to call big pre-flop re-raises.

Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide - Tournament Edition

Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide - Tournament Edition

"Play before the flop in No Limit Hold'em can be studied like chess openings, even though no one looks at it that way," Bloch writes.

The stack-size sections are excellent for beginning to early-intermediate players.

In these chapters, Gordon and Smith detail the differences between small stack and big stack play. Gordon emphasizes his never-give-up attitude, writing about the right time to sit back and the right time to push your remaining chips towards the middle. Smith on the other hand, reveals the power of the big stack, teaching the reader how to give off the maniac image while dominating a table with calculated aggression.

"The traditional tournament strategy in tournaments has been to play ultra-tight until you get to the antes," Smith writes. "My philosophy is that if everyone else is playing that way, those blinds are out there every hand and no one wants to fight for them. I want to build up chips before the antes. That way, I'm the guy with the power at the table."

Another of the book's strengths is the differences in strategy between the contributors. Ferguson and Bloch advocate a tight-aggressive style that confounds opponents because of its lulling monotony. Forrest and Smith differ, relying on their ingenious reading abilities, relentlessly aggressive styles and "any two at any time" table images.

Both strategies have returned millions of dollars to their owners. The beauty for the readers is the ability to pick the style that compliments his or her game.

If the book has a downfall, it's in the details. Beginning players not familiar with basic starting hand requirements and overall tournament structure might get lost in chapters detailing multiple street leverage and pre-flop-starting-hand statistics. But that doesn't mean the book will not have value to newbies who go out and play a little bit then want a fallback tutor for increasing their level of sophistication.

Bottom line – This is an absolute essential for all intermediate to advanced tournament players.

Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide
$29.95 – Suggested retail
438 Pages

Review: Full Tilt Poker Strategy Guide - Tournament Edition is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane

Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.
Ryan McLane
Ryan McLane was a poker reporter for Casino City. Although he has a strong background in reporting, the same can't be said for his poker skills. He has never won a major tournament nor is he a professional player. He applied for this job thinking it was a joke, only to find it out that it's true, people will pay you to write about poker. His favorite word is ridiculous.

After receiving his BA in History from Stonehill College in Easton, MA, he somehow ended up freelance reporting for a couple years before being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom III with the Massachusetts National Guard. He's back now and is a strong advocate of the phrase "God Bless America."

Currently, Ryan lives in Boston and occasionally makes international treks to cover tournament poker and news. Feature writing is his passion and there is no need to ask for his opinion, he'll probably offer it first - free of charge.