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Play Poker Like the Pros by Phil Hellmuth – Book Review

Play Poker Like the Pros

Title: Play Poker Like the Pros
Author: Phil Hellmuth
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 394
Price: Approx. $12.00

Phil Hellmuth is one of the most respected players on the pro circuit and has finally published a book covering Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud. Each chapter covers many different and important points. The games covered in Hellmuth’s are Limit Holdem, Pot-Limit/No-Limit Holdem, Omaha, Omaha 8OB, Stud, Stud 8OB, and Razz. About half of the book is spent on Holdem, as that is quickly becoming the most popular game in card rooms and online sites.

Phil begins the book with a brief discussion on Skill vs. Luck in poker. If you have been playing for a decent amount of time, you can skip this section (as with much of the rest of this book). He then moves on to Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Strategy for Limit Holdem. Some of the more important points and tips he covers are the different types of players you will encounter, his top ten hands, the power of the raise, stealing the blinds, and trapping. He covers all of these in pretty good detail and I cannot argue that what he covers is necessary.

Now comes where I feel this book comes up very short, the Pot-Limit / No-Limit Holdem chapter. He touches briefly on different strategies, but a majority of the reading spent in this chapter is done on the different stories from his No-Limit tournament success. If you want to improve your NL Holdem game, do not count on this book to do it. Phil should have realized that NL Holdem is becoming the game of choice for many of the readers and covered it more in-depth.

Now onto the Omaha and Stud chapters, which Phil just lightly touches on. He begins with Omaha 8OB (eight or better) and Pot-Limit Omaha strategies. Phil’s strategies cover how to qualify a low hand in Omaha, have A2 in your hand, and a list of the best starting hands for Omaha. Again, he advises tight play preflop for beginners and using only his “premium” hands. In Pot-Limit, he reminds you to try and make the best hand (this point made my laugh) and how to protect your hand with a Pot-sized bet. For the beginner Omaha player, this book does its job.

The final four chapters of the book (not counting the Internet Poker chapter) cover Stud, Razz, and Stud 8OB. One of the first differences you might see is that Stud is an ante game, and not blinds. Also, there are no community cards and the player with the best board begins each round of betting. Like always, he covers his top hands for Stud and preaches about playing tightly. In Razz he covers the best low starting hands, how to know when to steal the antes, what exactly is a “board lock” in Stud. In Stud 8OB, he covers (like he did in Omaha) what qualifies as a low hand and when it is time to throw away a big pair. Everything covered here does a good job in preparing you for your first night playing Stud.

With all this being said, my final thoughts on the book are that it is a rental at best. It falls short on the Holdem sections (which Phil is best known for) and really teaches you some techniques that may hurt you in the long run. In my opinion, you should save your money and buy Doyle Brunson’s “Super System” which can be found in many stores for $30.00 or less. It is slightly more expensive than Hellmuth’s book, but the content more than makes up for the price.