Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time Volume I

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If you play poker tournaments, you must read Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time. There's no other way to say it; it's an absolute must. Eric "Rizen" Lynch, Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet, and Jon "Pearljammer" Turner, are fantastic tournament players who also explain their thinking remarkably well, a skill that many poker writers lack. There are three volumes to this series currently out, but I will only be reviewing the first volume here.

Organization

Volume I is set up in a very unique way. First of all, unlike many other books that have hand examples as an addendum or appendix, Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time is all hand examples. There are no theoretical problems; every example is a hand one of the authors actually played in a poker tournament. There are no starting hand charts, no statistical theorems, no computer simulations. Just great players reviewing their play.

Each author has their own section where they review their hands, and then they review twenty hands together. The hands in Volume I are all from the start of a tournament till the money bubble bursts; in the money and final table play are reserved for the later volumes in the series.

The hands are drawn from a wide variety of tournaments: live, online, low and high stakes. No matter what kind of tournament you normally play in, you'll see hands that represent your normal opponents, and furthermore, you'll see how the same high-level thinking applies in all of them.

Different Styles

One of the great things about this book is that Lynch, Van Fleet, and Turner have different styles of play, but are all quite successful players. So, not only do you get a great view of how different styles can still be profitable, you also see what is universal for all good poker players: keen evaluation of every situation and the knowledge and guts to exploit those situations.

All the authors explain their processes well, and no matter your poker experience you will be able to follow along and learn something from them. For those less familiar with tournament poker parlance, there's a small glossary included at the end of the book. Each author picked a selection of hands from the beginning and middle sections of the many tournaments they've played, and numerous subjects get covered this way, including big and short stack, blind stealing, continuation bets, and nearly every other situation you're going to be in during a tournament. I especially liked the end of Van Fleet's section where he details forty-one hands of bubble play in a $1060 tournament. I know that following his play and reasoning as he abuses the table and builds his stack from $136k to over $316k has improved my bubble play immensely.

Shared Hands

The 20 shared hands are fascinating, especially after having read through each author's individual sections. The authors are shown hand histories and then tell what they would have done if they were sitting in the hero's seat. They do this without seeing any of the other author's answers. Quite often, their reasoning and lines are identical. It's even more interesting when they're not, because you can see how different players evaluate different situations and with unassailable logic come to different conclusions.

Conclusion

Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time is an essential read for tournament players of all skill levels and is also one of my most reread books. You can't fail to learn something on every read. But a word of warning: if you buy this book, be ready to buy all three. Because once you get into the money, there's still plenty to learn from these three great pros.

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