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Ken Warren's Winner's Guide to Texas Hold'em Poker

Ken Warren's Winner's Guide to Texas Hold'em Poker

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Ken Warren presents the reader with a great deal of material in his book, Winner's Guide to Texas Hold'em Poker. Some of the author's opinions are controversial but all in all there is some important fundamental information outlined. This is a good beginner's book, but this will not develop you into a great limit Texas hold'em player. This is just a start.

Warren says that the buy in for a $1-$4-$8-$8 should be no less than $100. [31] He goes on to say that this buy in should scale for higher stakes. He also mentions that it is key to buy in for enough chips to ensure that you will not run low in the early going.

He gives tips on poker behavior as follows:
"Don't needlessly delay on purpose when it is your turn to act. While there is no rule against it, it is considered rude in Hold'em to take an inordinately long time to make a play that you knew you were going to make from the beginning anyway. The benefit of this is that on those rare occasions when you do need extra time to figure out what to do, the dealer and the other players will give you all the time you need." [34]

Warren states that one should ask for a rake break when the game gets short-handed. [35] He also discusses changes in strategy when there are fewer than 10 players. He makes the obvious point that weaker hands can win pots when there are fewer players.

The author regularly favors the betting and folding option over the checking option, " You cannot check and call in Hold'em and be a winner. There's a term that describes a weak, passive Hold'em player, and it's a Calling Station. So many more good things can happen to you when you bet instead of check. If you are a calling station then you can win only by having the best hand at the showdown. You will never be able to take advantage of strategic moves like check-raising, semi-bluffing, bluffing and using deception in playing your hand. ... You have a dozen ways to win a hand if you're a complete poker player, and having the best hand, when your bet is called at the end, is only one of them. You're giving up a lot of money and opportunities if the only thing you know how to do is to wait for the nuts." [40]

The author continuously stresses that one should play tight but agressive. "The number one fault of most low limit players is that they will see the flop with hands they should have folded, they will call when they should fold and they play their hands long after it's clear they're beat or don't have the right odds to play. In short, they play too loose." [42]

He gives other tips such as how to look at and analyze the hole cards, "If you can, it's an excellent idea to memorize your two pocket cards and don't look at them again until the hand is over. There are several good reasons for doing this. It will prevent you from providing a tell when three of one suit flops. When that happens and players immediately check their hole cards, it usually means that they have exactly one card of that suit and they have to double-check to see which one it is. ... While we're on the subject of checking your hole cards, you should learn to wait until after it's your turn to act to look at your hand." [50]

Some of the Hold'em Hand Names in the book like Big Slick are well known. Others are less common. Below is a Partial List of Ken Warren's Hold'em Hand Nicknames Categories of Starting Hands [60-65]
1. High Pairs - Ac,Ad or Kh,Ks or Qd,Qs
"You will always be a favorite with these cards and you usually want to raise pre-flop. It's a sin to limp in with Ah,Ac and get beat by someone holding 7s,4s, especially after the hand when he's dragging into the pot." [60]

2. Medium Pairs - Jd,Jh or Ts,Tc or 9c,9d or 8h,8c
"If you have Jd,Jc in the pocket, you will get a Q,K or A(an overcard) on the flow 57% of the time." [61]

3. Low Pairs - 7s,7h or 6d,6c or 5h,5d or 4c,4d or 3h,3s or 2d,2c
"When you have sevens in the pocket you'll flop one or more overcards 92% of the time. You normally cannot win a big pot with these hands if you don't improve on the flop. By the way, if you hold 3c,3s and the flop 6s,5h,4d, get the hell out." [61] A draw to the low end of a straight is one of the classic sucker plays in Hold'em and you won't be a winner in the long run if you normally attempt draws like that.

4. Nut Flush Draws - Any card with a suited Ace.
"Starting with two suited cards, you will not make a flush 97% of the time." [62]

5. King-High Flush Draws - Kc,Qc down through Kc,2c.
"The good news is that 1/3 of the time when you do make the flush, the Ace of your suit will be on board(giving you the nut flush)." [62]

6. Ace-High Suited - Ac,Kc or Ad,Qd or Ah,Jh [62]

7. Ace-Medium Suited - Ad,Td or As,9s or Ah,8h or Ac,7c [63]

8. Ace-Face - Ac,Kd or Ah,Qs or Ad,Jc [63]

9. Ace-Medium and Ace-Low - Ac,10d or Ad,9h or Ah,8s or As,7c or Ac,6s or Ad,5h or Ah,4d or As,3h or Ac,2s
"These are the most costly trap hands in low limit Hold'em and you should routinely muck them every time you get them. When you have an Ace in the pocket there will be an Ace dealt to at least one other player 75.7% of the time." [64]

10. Face-Face - Ks,Qh or Kh,Jd or Qh,Js [64]

11. Any Two Suited Cards - Not already mentioned such as Ks,7s etc.
"You will never have the right odds to play the hand for any reason and it is a big loser." [64]

12. Two Connected Cards - Hands not already mentioned such as 10s,9d etc.
"Your goal is to make a straight and you should only play these hands in late position when there a lot of callers and no raises pre-flop." [65]

13. Suited and Connected - Cards such as 9s,8s etc.
"These hands are only marginally better than the same cards unsuited." [65]

14. Jh,10c
"You should usually not play this hand in early position and play carefully with it until you see the flop." [65]

Early Positon Hands:
Ad,Ah or Kc,Ks or Qc,Qd or Ah,Kh or Ad,Qd or Ac,Kd or Ah,Qs [70]
These are the only hands thay you can profitably play from early position in a low limit game. As you become a more experienced Hold'em player and gain a deeper insight into the subtleties of the game there are several other hands that you can add to the early position starting hand list.

Middle Position Hands: [71]
Js,Jh or Td,Tc or 9c,9d or 8h,8s or Ac,Jc or Ad,Td or Ah,9h or Ks,Qs or Kc,Jc or Qd,Jd or Qh,Th or Ac,Jd or Ah,Ts or Ad,9h or Ks,Qh or Kd,Jc or Kd,Ts or Qc,Jh or Qh,Td

Late Position Hands: [73]
7s,7h or 6d,6c or 5c,5d or 4h,4s or 3d,3h or 2s,2h or As,8s or Ac,7c or Ad,6d or Ah,5h or As,4s or Ac,3c or Ad,2d or Kc,Tc or Kd,9d or Qh,9h or Qs,8s or Jc,Tc or Jd,9d or Td,9d or 9h,8h or Kc,9d or Qh,9c or Js,Td

Choosing your seat can be important. "If possible, you should sit to the left of bad players, players who play too many hands, players who have a lot of money in front of them, and players who bet more often than their hands warrant. And if you can find a player who has more than one of these qualities, then so much the better for you." [78]

The author seems to be inconsistent on which hands are playable in early position. "The seat immediately left of the big blind provides you with the biggest opportunity to save the most money in this game. Because of the possibility of a raise, these are the only hands you should play in this position: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs, AQs, AJs, ATs, KQs, KJs, AK, and AQ. Any other hand, even TT, A9s or KTs are just not profitable in this position." [96] This logic seems to contradict the advice given on page 70.

Calling too often can be dangerous. "The number-one thing that the average player can do to immediately improve his game is to quit routinely calling pre-flop raises unless he also has a genuine raising hand." [99]

The author gives 5 major reasons for raising before the flop:
1. Eliminate Players
2. To Get Value from Your Hand
3. To Gain Information
4. To Bluff of Semi-Bluff
5. To Get a Free Card [100-101]

Semi-bluffs are an important part of poker. The author gives different examples of when they are possible. "Calling with a bottom pair with an Ace kicker is a good semi-bluff. You know you don't have the best hand, but you know if you make an Ace or trip your pair, you'll probably have a winner." [110]

The author continually stresses the importance of betting. "If you see the flop and are genuinely undecided between checking and betting, you should usually choose to bet. Betting is better for several good reasons. You don't give any free cards. You won't get beat on the river by a player who would not have called if you would have bet on the flop. You give the drawing hands the worst possible odds to play their hands. You could win the pot right there without a contest. And you will win a bigger pot if you do win the hand." [111]

It has been said that if you don't have bluffing then you don't have poker. However it is better to bluff when you are in a position where your opponent might fold. The author lists times not to bluff as follows:
1. Any Flop That Has an Ace in it. In a ten-handed Hold'em game, someone will be dealt an Ace 86.7% of the time. [143]
2. Any Flop That Has a Jack or Ten. [143]
3. With a Pre-Flop Raise Only Semi-Bluff. [143]
4. Against Many Flop Callers. [144]

The author gives advice on how to play certain hands. Everyone wants to get pocket Aces but it rarely happens. Here is Warren's take on wired Aces. "A pair of Aces in the pocket is the best hand you can have in Hold'em. There is no other hand that will win more money hand in and hand out in the long run. you should usually raise pre-flop every time you get them from any and all positions and you should definitely reraise if possible. If you're not willing to put in the maximum number of bets with the best hand in Texas Hold'em, then you should ask yourself why you're even playing the game." [164]

Many players get excited when they have an Ace in the hole. The author explains that sometimes an Ace can be overrated. When talking about A9s through A2s he says, "These suited hands just do not perform as well as you might think." [167] The author explains that one has to be careful of other players holding an Ace, "Since most players do play every hand with an Ace, be careful when the flop has two or three wheel cards in it." [169]

Overall Rating: 3

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