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Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: A Course in Power Poker

Much was expected of this book when it first hit the shelves in 2005, some twenty six years after the original Super System, which has been touted as “The Poker Bible” by many. Publication dates were suppressed and pushed back, farther and farther and yet interest in this book did not wane. Today it is regarded by most book critics with knowledge of poker as nothing more than revised edition of that original, or at best a poor sequel; and yet there is far more to Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: A Course In Power Poker than meets the eye. Specifically for those of us who aren’t looking for a guide to play poker, but more a reference and research book.

Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2 is a serious and sizable book written by the winner of ten World Series of Poker bracelets and the first player to win a $1 million in poker tournaments – Doyle Brunson. This author should know what he is talking about, and have significant expertise to provide such knowledge on to the written page for us to see.

Yet, this book has been slaughtered in the press, by the critics, and by a portion of the poker community. Why? One possible reason could be this book is not a step-by-step guide, as the title rather misleadingly portrays. I do find however that a good poker book does not necessarily have to be a guide. Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2 is a course about the art of poker and is not designed to teach amateurs how to play.

The first pages of the book deal with Brunson himself, taking us on a long winding narrative about the history of the Texas Hold ’em poker game and lengthy autobiographical chapter that details exactly why the Texan king of poker became such a well known name, the face of Texas Hold ‘em and how his successful career began, blossomed and flourished in the seventies.

For this book, Brunson has chosen to divide his core material up and assign chapters to some of the most recognised players, experts and authorities on poker. Each has written a chapter, dishing out their own knowledge and expertise on a particular element and game. This gives the book a broad selection of potentially priceless information.

Although the book’s main focus goes to No Limit Texas Hold ’em, which in using Brunson’s own words, “is the Cadillac of the poker”, there are some exciting chapters which focus on alternative areas of the game; written by the additional authors. The content of those individual author’s contributions is, suffice to say, rather good. Jennifer Harman, Bobby Baldwin, Todd Brunson, Lyle Berman and Daniel Negreanu have all added their own opinions to the ensemble project on a range of poker games including Limit Hold ’em, Triple Draw and Omaha 8 Or Better, amongst others.

At roughly fifty pages each, these chapters do not go into too much detail, but do more than adequately discuss everything you need to know about the game in as short a space as possible. There are several chapters of this book that stand out and have done this remarkably efficiently, particularly Daniel Negreanu’s spot on Triple Draw. Brunson’s own section on online poker is also remarkably up to date and concise for a man well into his seventies at the time of publication. It appears that Brunson not only continues to follow the evolution of poker (into an online game now too) but also fully understands how it all works and this is invaluable. Especially from a poker player who had the majority of his heyday decades ago before the advent of the internet poker.

Some critics have bashed this book for being nothing more than a rehash of age old tips and tricks of poker. Aren’t most poker books though?  Having several authors discussing their tricks is a winning formula; after all, old tips are just as valid as new ones, for the game and rules of poker don’t change do they? If anything could be criticised about this book, it is how it is written, not what is written. In fact, the way the book is written is my only real criticism at all; Unfortunately, whilst there is useful information to be had here, the layout is disorganised and as a result has little to no cohesiveness, it doesn’t flow smoothly and instead can lead the reader to believe that Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2 is no more than a collection of essays or articles, than a book twenty six years in the making.

To conclude, there is a big debate over whether or not you should buy Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2 or its original version. Well, you should not consider it a sequel in any sense. Consider this book a second edition of the first, updated with new games, a complete glossary and plenty of addenda if you will, that weren’t available in the first edition. That is why, as far as a reference book for experienced poker players goes, Doyle Brunson’s Super System 2: A Course In Power Poker is certainly not as damp as some critics make it out to be. If you’re a keen student in the art of poker, you may very well be surprised with what you’ll learn with this modernized poker bible.