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Tom McEvoy & TJ Cloutier's Championship No Limit & Pot Limit Hold'em

Tom McEvoy & TJ Cloutier's Championship No Limit & Pot Limit Hold'em

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Overall Rating: 4.667

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I purchased this book because it's one of the few that discusses specific strategy in No-Limit tournaments (it also addresses Pot-Limit Hold'em). Now, before you all buy it as the definitive guide to winning your buddy's weekend $15 buy-ins, just be aware that this book is addressing high-stakes tournaments against tough opponents who are thinking the same way you do. Most home games involve people who want to gamble and have fun. This book isn't for those kinds of games.

The book turned me off at first. McEvoy and Cloutier spend many pages talking about their wonderful careers and, as great as they may be, I'll buy a biography if I really want to know. Eventually, they get to the good stuff. Now, they continue to throw in personal experiences, which work a lot better as examples of strategies rather than "look at me I'm great" chapters.

Cloutier is a very tight tournament player, a style used by many players because it works. Because of this, he only goes into detail about playing premium hands: AK, AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, and KQ. He doesn't bother much with other hands that most people play because he doesn't feel that they hold much value when the betting gets so high. This might seem a little narrow-minded, but Cloutier does such a good job breaking down how to play each hand that you won't even notice. If you don't know how to play any of the above hands after reading this book, then you have problems.

Unfortunately, some of the other sections involve a lot of, "oh, this is real important", but how to do it is never addressed. For instance, Cloutier stresses over and over again how important it is to "read" your opponents and pick up on their tendencies so that, when they raise, you know exactly what they have. However, he never really explains how to do this. No tips or anything, just "hey, make sure you observe your opponents". I think we all know this, but we need guidance as to what the best approach is to gaining this information. Many hands never make it to a showdown, so you need other methods of reading players. My assumption is that you can either do this naturally, or you can't. Cloutier can, and very, very well.

One good thing Cloutier does is keep a strong, consistent theme throughout his section, emphasizing the need to protect and build your chips over time, not in one hand. Amateur players seem to have a hard time understanding this, instead they try to double up every time they get a half-decent hand. Cloutier's super-tight style might be a turn off to some, but he shows you why it works. You don't have to follow it, but you can't argue with the results.

Overall, definitely pick up this book if you plan on playing in tough tournaments. It's a hit-or-miss style that many people won't find particularly interesting, but those who want to play at a high level will find the advice invaluable.

Overall Rating: 4.667

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