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Hold 'Em Poker Books6 July 2004
Until recently, live poker in casinos has been in steep decline. Many Nevada card rooms have closed, and most casinos in newer gaming jurisdictions never added poker because space is more profitably used on slot machines.
But thanks to televised poker on the Travel Channel and ESPN, poker - especially Texas hold'em - is on a popularity surge.
The new demand recently led Trump Casino in Gary to join Harrah's East Chicago and Hollywood in Aurora in offering Texas hold'em, Omaha and Seven-Card Stud. Poker has returned to some Las Vegas casinos, and others have expanded their card rooms.
I asked Howard Schwartz at the Gamblers Book Club in Las Vegas to recommend some poker books. Here's his response:
Never before in history has poker been more popular - Hold 'Em Poker, to be specific. It's an easy game to learn - you're dealt two cards and combine them with five community cards to make your best five-card hand. But what happens in between the deal and the final card (called the "river" card) is what makes it very interesting. Position, the bluff factor and often the term "all-in" have even greater impact. You must understand what "tells" are (subconscious moves by head, eyes, or hands to indicate or hide happiness or disappointment) and you have to deal with the luck factor.
Originally called Hold Me Darling and Hold Me (some say it originally was a gimmicky home poker game, like Old Maid), this game evolved into one called Hold 'Em in the late 1970s with the help of a fantastic must-read book titled Hold 'Em Poker by David Sklansky (113 pages, paperbound, $19.95).
Sklansky and his partner in writing and publishing, Mason Malmuth, have collaborated on more than a dozen books and are among the most respected authors internationally.
With the tournament attention ESPN has provided with the World Poker Tour and reruns of the past World Series of Poker at Binion's Horseshoe in Las Vegas, it's estimated several million new players have begun to play, both in person and on the Internet. Many have learned to play by observation - but the better ones have read a book or two before venturing from their home games into a real casino or card room.
For those who need a little nudge or guidance on what books will help a beginner, here's a quick list of suggested readings. Think of poker as an investment course. You certainly wouldn't buy a car, some stock or land without some research, would you? Hopefully not. So take my advice (I've been reading, ordering, editing books for more than 25 years). Here are some of the best.
Recommended for beginners are:
Hold 'Em Poker, by David Sklansky. Sklansky discusses how important the first two cards are; what you should look for in a "good flop," and follows with vital information on bluffing, check-raising, playing head-up and reading "tells." Originally published in 1976 and updated many times to reflect changing rules and theories, it remains the book that created millions of players and revealed material only the pros knew in the early days.
Hold 'Em Excellence (From Beginner to Winner), by Lou Krieger (173 pages, paperbound, $19.95). Helps the beginner go from home game to casino action - encourages the beginner to learn even from mistakes, get mentally fit, understand the importance of position, and understand when to raise and why. The book also places some emphasis on money management and rationale for keeping records of your play.
Get The Edge at Low-Limit Hold 'Em, by Bill Burton (284 pages, paperbound, $14.95) not only offers the basics - including what starting hands to play; table position, and proper times to check, raise fold or check-raise - but also explains how to size up your opponents and their playing styles, and how to win in low-limit tournaments.
Winning Low-Limit Hold 'Em, by Lee Jones (198 pages, paperbound, $24.95). One of the all-time best sellers. Jones' reputation as a writer, player and theorist is solid. Packed with examples of good and bad hands; with a quiz after key chapters to check your memory and comprehension, he explains odds, pot odds and implied odds; play pre-flop in early, middle and late position; how to play various types of flops, from one pair, two pair to a straight or flush draw.
Play Poker Like the Pros, by Phil Hellmuth Jr. (394 pages, paperbound, $15.95). Rarely does a world-class poker player (he won the Binion's World Series of Poker in 1989 - the youngest player ever to do so) write a poker book. But this rarity is a best seller. It has a major section on low-limit Hold 'Em, plus sections on intermediate and advanced strategies. It contains a chapter on no-limit and tournament play, then moves to other games like Omaha and Seven Stud. Educational, colorful and entertaining.
All books on this list - and thousands more on all aspects of casino gaming - are available through the Gamblers Book Shop, 630 S. 11th St., Las Vegas, NV 89101. For credit card orders, call (800) 522-1777, or visit www.gamblersbook.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at email@example.com.
Best of John Grochowski