Try mastering the art of short-handed poker

Feb 24, 2009 5:05 PM
Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz |

High stakes no-limit hold’em shorthanded and heads-up play are areas this newer generation of players requests. They want books on the fast-paced version of hold’em, and pro player Danny Ashman has written a good one. Titled Secrets of Short-Handed No-Limit Hold’em (206 pages, paper bound, $24.95), it deserves a spot in the intelligent player’s library.

For horseplayers who enjoy attending races in other countries while vacationing, Alan Shuback’s Global Racing -- The Complete Guide to the Greatest Foreign Racecourses (370 pages, hard bound, $24.95) is a fine resource, covering more than 100 tracks in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and three South American nations, Argentina, Brazil and Chile.

Ashman’s poker book contains eight major sections including those on mental discipline (avoiding tilt), strategic conditions (including playing live vs. online and bankroll management), poker math (including expected value, hand combinations and basic probability); also pre-flop play (including loose vs. tight and aggressive vs. passive), the flop (including protecting your hand, pot odds, implied odds), the turn and the river (including bet sizing) and a vital section discussing value betting, bluffing, trapping and folding string hands.

Shuback’s Global Racing offers great preparatory material for the adventurous player. Wondering about a foreign track’s history or the track configuration? When do they race (what days, months), what’s the best way to get there (time-wise and whether to go by car or bus for example), how colorful are the surroundings, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, major races andtrack records? It’s all here.

The book has some fascinating material American bettors may be totally unaware of. Example, the French utilize a "penetrometer"—a stick by which the "going is measured on turf courses." Each morning before racing the device is inserted into the ground at specific points to determine the state of the ground, varying from hard and firm to heavy or very heavy, about three hours before the first race. This is done, says the author, because it rains more in France than in the United States. Shuback recommends all nations sit down and decide on a set of parameters for deciding how to describe turf course conditions as well as dirt track and synthetic surfaces. His credentials are impressive -- including having been the Daily Racing Form’s foreign correspondent for the past 17 years, so we expect his suggestions will turn into a reality one day.

Any item reviewed here is available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club). The store’s web site is You may order there using MasterCard, VISA or Discover (no CODs please) or by phoning the store any day except Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day. The store, now in its 45th year, is a mile from downtown Las Vegas, at 630 S. 11th St., 89101.