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Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington
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Harrington on Hold ‘em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments, Vol. 1: Strategic Play by Dan Harrington

If you are looking for some poker strategy straight from the mind of a pro player then Harrington on Hold’em is a must read. Action Dan Harrington is both an experienced and contemporary no limits hold’em player; he won 2 bracelets in 1995 and then reached the final table in two consecutive years (2003 and 2004). You know with Harrington on Hold’em you are getting something up to date and focused on the modern game, and as such it is a must read for poker players the world over.

Poker of course is a game built on intuition and many guides become overly wordy, which is certainly the case with something like David Sklansky’s The Theory of Poker. Harrington however avoids such trappings and delivers an easily accessible book that does not scrimp on details but instead makes the game easy to understand. Another issue with many hold’em books is offering information on the different ways to play the game, and anybody familiar with Harrington the player may have reservations in this case.

Harrington has built a reputation at the table as an extremely methodical player and has been described by many as too tight (Sorry Dan). So the aggressive player out there may think there is not much to learn from cautious Action Dan, but luckily that is not the case. Harrington may not be an aggressive poker player, but he knows them and has studied them so this allows him to bring us the reader a blend of all strategies of hold’em.

This all means that although the world of hold’em moves at breakneck speed, Harrington on Hold’em is still as important as it ever was, but just how important? Well very important is the answer, probably being the pre-eminent guide for hold’em poker and a trusted companion of countless players around the world. There are alternatives including David Sklansky’s Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players, but as the name suggests Sklansky has the experienced player in mind, whereas Harrington has aimed to deliver his hold’em knowledge to all levels, with even a beginner being able to find some merit here.

Much of this accessibility is in how Harrington presents his theories and the manner in which he extrapolates upon them. Firstly there is a glossary of terms and hold’em sayings that break down in easily digested details what each thing means, this at the very least serves as a great place for the beginner to learn some hold’em terms. Each chapter summarises what is to follow by going in to the theory before explaining it thoroughly, but the ace in the hand for Harrington on Hold’em is the problems sections.

These problems are presented as real hands that largely Harrington himself has participated in. With each example hand you get in depth analysis of what you could or should do, and why. Of course these are only blueprints but nevertheless they give us a great insight into the mind of professional hold’em players and how they attempt to succeed in hands.

Harrington has certainly delivered a masterclass in Hold’em playing and even beginners will find something useful within these pages. However intermediate to experienced players will get the most from this tome with its detailed breakdown of real hands giving you a real insight into the world of hold’em. The simple truth is, if you are looking for a book specifically on hold’em then Harrington has written a tour de force and the only true option other than Sklansky’s wordy effort. There are options that are worth exploring if you are looking for a broader look at poker, with the likes of Doyle Brunson’s Super System being a worthy companion to Harrington on Hold’em.

Total beginners may get lost in the descriptions that lie within these pages and it would be better if you are just beginning your hold’em journey to seek out Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones, and Getting Started in Hold’em by Ed Miller. Both of these offer a more easily digestible reading experience and are must reads before moving on to Harrington on Hold’em.

The one small issue with Harrington on Hold’em is that it is very much written with the tournament player in mind, and problems and examples are set up as such. Cash players will need to be well versed in the ins and outs of tournament play to fully understand the concepts; it is this that could be a stumbling block for the total beginner. However, as said this is a small issue as most players of at least middling level have a basic grasp of tournament play and besides this, all the points raised by Harrington will still apply to cash players.

That one small problem should take nothing away from what is a hold’em players dream read. Harrington has delivered a masterstroke of hold’em technique and strategy, while the great layout and format ensures an accessible read for all.

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