Books just in time for World Series of Poker

Apr 28, 2009 5:05 PM
Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz |

With the World Series of Poker right around the corner, now might be a good time to brush up on your poker playing skills.

Like a breath of fresh air, a new work on the game, Eat Professional Poker Players Alive! by Frank Wiese (295 pages, paperbound, $24.95) has reached the shelves of Gamblers Book Shop. Covering Hold’em, Razz, Stud, 2-7 Triple Draw Low Ball and H.O.R.S.E., tournament play and online poker, it’s an excellent tutorial for both beginners and experienced players. World Series of Poker champion Jerry Yang wrote the foreword and calls the author "one of poker’s best kept secrets." Wiese, out of Chicago, is an established cash game and tournament player.

This well-illustrated book contains eight major sections, the first two for beginners, with intermediate play covered in the third section and advanced play beginning on page 77. Vital discussions focus on the need for patience, how to use aggression positively, stealing blinds and small pots, bluffing and when to fold. Wiese discusses slow playing and setting traps; table image and heads-up strategy. The sections on H.O.R.S.E., Triple Draw, Omaha, Razz and Seven Stud average about 10 pages each.

The book explains the atmosphere, locale, prize pool and lists winners in various events of three major tournaments (Heartland, World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker). This tournament section could have been improved by use of tips on how to survive the early rounds or identifying mistakes beginning tournament players make, but tournament organizers will probably appreciate the publicity in the long run.

Novices seeking advice about online poker rooms, sit n’ go strategy and making the transition from online to live action will find help here too. The book ends with over 40 pages of useful information on poker magazines, forums, podcasts, information on many of the nation’s poker rooms and a poker glossary.

Many Hold’em players have questions concerning odds and probabilities. One nice little pocket-sized book, titled Poker Odds Illustrated (158 pages, spiralbound (pocket-sized), $19.95 may do the job in a pinch. Compiled by Felix Flackett and Roy Stevens, it was published in Great Britain in 2008. It is designed to help players with the probabilities needed to make correct decisions at different stages of the game.

It is most helpful for Limit Hold’em where there are often decisions whether to go all in or call all in before the flop, after and on the turn. The book will help online players and those in sit n’ go tournaments. The authors assume the buyer knows the basics and the game’s terminology.

Illustrated colorfully, this remarkable little reference also has a small section showing how to convert percentage chances to odds and an easy to refer to chart showing the probability of making your hand after the flop with two cards to come and after the turn with one card to come, when the two cards in your opponent’s hand are "not amongst your outs."

The book contains more than 280 full color illustrations of key Hold ‘em match-ups showing related odds. Both of these great poker books are available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club). The store’s web site is Or you can call toll free at 1-800-522-1777. Orders usually shipped the next working day.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Howard Schwartz