Two important new poker books hit the shelves during WSOP

Jul 12, 2011 3:00 AM

Two important new poker books hit the shelves during this year’s World Series of Poker. Chances are good, if you were among the first players to snag one of these gems, you took your no-limit hold’em game to a level high enough to finish in the money at the Rio’s annual pokerfest.

Decide to Play Great Poker (A Strategy Guide to No-Limit Texas Hold’em) by Annie Duke and John Vorhaus, (448 pgs., $34.95), challenges you to raise your game from mediocre to superior by using their superb advice and strategies.

Though Duke is the more visible player (even coming in second to Joan Rivers on Trump’s "Celebrity Apprentice"), both she and Vorhaus (author of the "Killer Poker" series) are highly respected poker authorities.

As co-authors, they’re dynamite – they don’t pontificate, they write important and often highly advanced strategy in reader-friendly language sprinkled with short, memorable maxims you can take to the bank:

• Every hand performs better against fewer opponents.

• Raise the least amount that does the job.

• Don’t open the action with a hand that can’t stand to be raised.

• Tell the strong hand a weak story.

Rather than discussing how to play specific card combinations such as A-K or baby pairs, they discuss how to play situations in which you may find yourself – a technique that gives you vital instruction on how to play the situation no matter what your exact hand.

For example: "big hand, heads-up, in position, with or without the lead, textured board." Then they follow the situation with an illustrated hand example. In this case, you have 9c-9d on the button and the flop comes Ah-10s-9s, giving you trips.

Following that scenario comes "big hand, heads-up, out of position, without the lead, textured board."

Unlike most hold’em books, there is no chapter about how to play the turn.

"That’s because you can’t make any decision on any flop without already knowing what you’re doing on the turn," Duke says. However, there is a chapter on how to play the river. Why? Because "you don’t get to the river that often in this game; therefore, you get very little practice playing it."

This one’s a winner – you’ll want to grab a copy before you play your next tournament.

Just as, "This is not your grandfather’s Buick" (as the updated model was touted a few years ago), "This is not your grandfather’s poker" could well be the slogan of today’s no-limit hold’em.

Four noted and highly successful no-limit players known for their unrelenting aggression – Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier, Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib, and Tony Dunst – have just issued The Raiser’s Edge (421 pgs., $34.95) designed to "bring you up to speed with the current state of tournament play."

Sub-titled "Tournament-Poker Strategies for Today’s Aggressive Game," the authors include enough sound advice to bring anyone’s game into alignment with the changing face of poker.

Even the vocabulary of hold’em, much of which has evolved from online poker, has changed. The authors discuss the LAG and hyper-LAG styles of play (loose and aggressive), min-raising, c-betting, open-jamming and the metagame – terms relatively new to the lexicon of poker.

They examine why LAG play, "in which players move chips around at dizzying speeds," works in this new era of no-limit hold’em, and instruct readers on how to apply its principles, as well as how to defend themselves against LAG opponents.

Much of the how-to-play discussion is based on actual tournament hands that Grospellier has played in major international deep-stack tournaments, followed by an analysis to give readers insight into the "why" of the recommended strategy.

Steven Van Aperen, described as the "Human Lie Detector," adds a valuable bonus to the book with his chapter on tells, including photos of a player giving off various tells.

These books and thousands of other titles are available at Gambler’s Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at, where you can view the store’s complete line of books, or phone 1-800-522-1777 or 702-382-7555 Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sat. 10 a.m.-6p.m.

(Note: Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip or the airport.)