New poker books for serious Omaha players

Oct 13, 2009 5:08 PM
Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz |

More than 25 years ago, the great Bill Boyd, considered one of the great five-card stud players ever, brought the game of Omaha to Las Vegas. Boyd enthusiastically explained the game to me and many others, but it was a while before the game caught on.

After all, hold’em and seven card stud were THE games in the l980s and they got plenty of action. But Boyd had the vision and Omaha soon caught fire. The game was added to tournament offerings, and card rooms everywhere offered action.

Bob Ciaffone wrote the first book on the game in 1984, shortly after he won the World Series of Poker Omaha title. Since then there have been other titles, with the high-low split version of the game getting attention as well.

Now comes William Jockusch’s Pot-Limit Omaha: Understanding Winning Play (320 pages, paperbound, $29.95). The author, who says he never saw a game he didn’t like, hails from the Seattle area and says his book is designed for experienced players who enjoy games with plenty of action and large pots.

There are eight major sections to this book including a quiz on material presented. Jockusch offers an introduction (including what good flops look like) and moves quickly to preflop play. Here he takes the player through dimensions of preflop strengths, moves to short stack play, stack size and table selection. On pre-flop guidelines he answers questions about playing tight or loose and which hands are playable in early to middle position.

There are some solid presentations on wrap hands, blind stealing and raising from the blinds, and pot equity of various hands against pocket aces.

A good portion of the book shifts to play on the flop, including flopping non-nut hands and draws, flopping nut draws, flopping a set and dozens of other situations. Illustrations throughout the book make this a powerful tutorial and anyone searching for a specific concept will find assistance in a handy index at book’s end.

Sections on playing on the turn and on the river are extremely vital. The author follows with some interesting miscellaneous concepts like playing flush boards, playing against a maniac, going for overcalls and check-fold equity.

Overall, this is valuable addition to any serious pot-limit Omaha player’s library. It should be read, re-read, highlighted and underlined. More importantly, it will make you think about the game as it improves it.

Probably the best primer for poker players, Super System 2 – known as "the bible" for poker players – has been unavailable for a few months but it’s back in stock with some minor updates. To avoid confusion, remember the original Super System was published in 1978. Much has changed in the past three decades, and the follow-up tome now reflects those changes, including sections titled Niche Poker by Phil Hellmuth, Online Poker by Doyle Brunson and 43 tips from Mike Caro,

Other new sections for poker players include Proposition Bets by Lyle Berman and a discussion about specialization from Steve Zolotow.

The major sections are Jennifer Harmon on Limit Hold’em, Bobby Baldwin on Omaha 8-or-Better, Todd Brunson on Seven Stud High-Low 8-Or-Better, Lyle Berman on Pot-Limit Omaha High; Daniel Negreanu on Triple Draw, Doyle Brunson on No-Limit Hold’em and a section titled Doyle’s Poker Clinic, which includes limit and no-limit Hold’em concepts.

This newer edition sells for $29.95, in paperbound with 699 pages.

Finally, Powerful Pai Gow Poker (Best Play Against The Casino) by Peter Vanderhart (112 pages, paperbound, $17.99) is highly praised by two authors "in the know." Stanford Wong who himself authored Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker and Mike Shackelford, author of Gambling 102 both like this text.

The book has five sections broken down into the basics, the best way to set your hand when acting as a player, advice when acting as the banker, about 100 practice hands and finally a condensed approximate strategy plus the house edge. Nicely arranged with many tables to assist both beginner and experienced players, the author used more than 100 million simulated hands in his analysis and research.

These books and more are available from Gambler’s Book Shop. The store’s website is; or you can call toll free at 1-800-522-1777.

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

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