Friday, March 07, 2008

Elements of Poker

I have to admit, I am having a grand old time reading Elements of Poker by Tommy Angelo. I picked up this rec from a few other bloggers who had read the book and were posting a quote or two from him up on their blogs. Actual quotes, and not directly about poker strategy per se. It's not a usual thing if you think about it, other than maybe people quoting Sklansky's inane rantings on twoplustwo, but eventually when I had once again exhausted my current storehouse of poker literature, I ended up ordering a few new ones including taking the plunge on Elements of Poker, more or less based solely on a couple of bloggers having quoted him directly on their blogs.

Now I know why.

Here's the thing about Elements. It's not a "hard" poker strategy book like most of what I read. This is not Theory of Poker and it's not Harrington or Ed Miller. He doesn't talk about specific plays, or how he plays a specific hand, etc. But what author Tommy Angelo does do is talk about poker, in a series of mostly loosely related articles about general topics in the game. About the game itself, and his thoughts on how to play it well, and most interesting are some of his passages about how to play poker right. I am really anjoying it, I have to say, and I find it highly readable if that means anything to anyone. Especially as a guy who tries to read as much of the hard poker strategy books and articles I can lay my eyes on, Elements is proving to be a really fun change of pace for me. Kinda like if I sat down to read Positively Fifth Street right now for the first time. Of course I'm still reading about poker, but no longer about specifically how to play better in specific situations, and yet it is still really fun. And I am learning a lot of generalized poker and gambling concepts from Angelo's very laid-back one-of-us writing style. And today, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from the book so far, the ones that I think best show you why I am enjoying this one so much. So here I go, quoting Tommy Angelo on my blog just like those before me. This guy's approach and really his writing style have a way of just busting out these seeming Poker Truisms that really hit home with me. I suspect that much of it has to do with the fact that it is clear as a bell from even a quick read that this guy is deep down as much of an addict as you or I, and probably has seen it all, or most of it all anyways, ideas which I think are clearly reflected in his writings. Anyways, here are a few of my favorites:

"If you play table poker, keep a lot of cash at home. At least 10 times your normal big loss....The power of this suggestion cannot be experienced by reading about it. If can only be felt, by practicing it. If you keep a very fat cash bankroll in your dwelling for a few months, I believe you will be noticeably and consistently more calm and focused while playing."

Spoken like a man who's actually been there done that. From another guy like that, I feel ya Tommy.

Here's another gem, from a section with Angelo is talking about how evolution at poker skill is about increasing the size and frequency of your A-game at the expense of minimizing the "gray area" of uncertainty about poker decisions to be made:

"As time passes, your rate of change slows. Your A-game improves more slowly, and your gray area shrinks more slowly. The main thing to realize is that no matter how good you get, you will always have a gray area. The gray is not part of you. It is part of the game."

I love it. Again spoken like someone who really knows playing poker over the long term.

Lastly for today (though I bet there will be more), on the subject of "entitlement" at the poker tables. Tell me this doesn't hit home with all of us on some level:

"You are not entitled to play bad just because they are playing bad. You are not entitled to tilt on the grounds that anyone would tilt after the terrible luck you've had. You are not entitled to play a marginal hand as a reward for folding correctly before the flop many times in a row. You are not entitled to call all the way when you know you are beat, just because you have a big pair in the hole. And no matter how good you play, or how bad they play, you are not entitled to win. If you have time and money, you are entitled to a seat at the table. That is all."

Tommy Angelo really has a way with words, in his own not-really-a-writer-at-all style. And as a seasoned poker player, he really speaks to me and I'm looking forward to finishing his book, probably sometime this weekend. As I mentioned I will probably have some more quotes for you here before all is said and done.

Congratulations by the way to Tuscaloosa Johnny for taking down the Riverchasers PLO tournament on Thursday night. This is one event I would have really liked to play, but when Lost calls, even a ghey ass-ramming by a blogger who awfukkit calls a preflop allin with K763 3-soooted and then outflops my AA double soooted (see my early elimination in the Dookie this week to the eventual "champion") is not attractive enough to keep me away from the Best Show of the Milennium.

Tonight don't forget Kat's donkament, the $1 rebuy madness event at 9pm ET on Fridays at full tilt. It's not a part of the BBT but it's at least as fun as the most fun of those. Password as always is "donkarama". Have a great weekend everyone, hopefully I'll see you at a pokerstars or full tilt or final table or four.

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Blogger StB said...

A post without any screen shots??? I have seen it all.

10:51 PM  
Blogger jeciimd said...

Too funny..Im actually reading the same book right now and had made a mental note to recommend it to you.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

whats angelo say about limping king queen? Of wait, we are done with that... or are we?

12:12 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Everyone but me says raising the KQs is better. I just have no problem limping-folding this hand behind a limper unless I make top pair or better or a big draw.

1:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

free bet

i actually thought it was a good post, no need for SC...

9:23 AM  
Blogger jusdealem said...

I love the last quote. I may have to order this one too.

12:52 PM  
Blogger BigPirate said...

I have been recommending this book to those friends who are "stuck" in their thinking about poker. I found it fantastic,

10:48 PM  
Blogger Faybio said...

The book is definitely not a strategy manual, yet should sit right next to Harrington, Sklansky, etc in your library. Many books on the market try to teach strategy. Tommy's book will teach the reader how to think about poker.

12:59 AM  

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