Mention the name Mike Sexton and even people who have only a passing interest in the game of poker know whom you are speaking of. Long recognized as "The Ambassador Of Poker," Mike Sexton ranks among the leaders in numbers of cashes at the World Series of Poker, captured the prized WSOP bracelet and has won numerous American, European and world tournament championships. He writes a column for each issue of CardPlayer Magazine that you see in your local magazine racks. And there are those little things that he is involved with, like the World Poker Tour and PartyPoker!
In the midst of all of this, he has found time to write a poker book. Due out on March 15th, "World Poker Tour: Shuffle Up & Deal," is the first foray into the literary arena for Mr. Sexton, and he comes out with a nicely done, if not groundbreaking, first work. It is very economically priced at $19.95 and has a very unique look, with the ever noticeable WPT logo featured prominently on the top front of the book's cover.
From the beginning of the book, it is obvious that there has been a tremendous amount of preparation and work that has been put into it. Not only does it feature the strategies and thoughts of Mr. Sexton (more on that in a minute), it has a very nice sixteen page color photo section of action from the World Poker Tour (something not seen in most poker books) and also includes a DVD by poker afficionado Lou Diamond Phillips, which is a basic how-to on the game of poker.
Another nice feature of the book is the introduction, written by the founder of the World Poker Tour, Steve Lipscomb. In the introduction, he gives a thorough rundown on what drove him to the creation of the WPT and, in excellent detail, tells the story of how it all came together. In fact, throughout the book, the touches of the WPT are found, with a complete rundown of the final tables and money won during the first two and part of the third season (as it has not been completed as of yet) of the Tour and a schedule of the fourth season tournaments listed as well. In his acknowledgments, Mike Sexton is quite glowing in his compliments to Steve Lipscomb and the World Poker Tour, and the accolades are well deserved.
What I found different about Mike's book is that, unlike others I have read, it doesn't list off a grouping of starting hands that players should go with. Mike Sexton readily admits that players, even the professionals, are going to play hands that, dependent on the circumstances, are going to make them the most money. What he does is he looks at the game from more of a "positional" situation, encouraging that a player take action when his position is right. While other books do touch on this, Mike Sexton preaches about the power of position over the power of the cards which, as many players know, is a key working point in No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em.
Another part that I liked about the book is the anecdotal emphasis of Sexton's points. When he talks about the power of position, he uses excellent examples of play from the World Poker Tour to push the point across. He details out the hand, its play and, in some cases, even adds in commentary from the combatants themselves to get "into the mind" of the champions of the WPT.
His writing style, befitting of his fifteen years in North Carolina, is very friendly and easy to read. There are not the mind-numbing calculations and convoluted wordiness that one might find with other books. Additionally, at the end of the book, Sexton lists off a truly impressive list of other books that players can go on to, after his, to continue their learning of the game. It is one of the emphasis points that Mike makes throughout the book, that poker (not just No-Limit) is a game that one learns over a lifetime and not just in one sitting.
Intermediate to advanced players may not find much that they did not know in "World Poker Tour: Shuffle Up And Deal," but there are things that they can come back to for reemphasis during bad streaks of play. The new player, or the WPT fan, will find this book very useful with the tremendous detail on the history of the WPT and the emphasis on situational and position play over starting hands. All in all, Mike Sexton has scored another tremendous victory in his professional and poker life with "World Poker Tour: Shuffle Up And Deal." It is a book worthy of inclusion in any poker player's library.