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Super System 2: A (really) big book

Super System 2: A (really) big book 0001

The first thing you can't help but notice about Super System 2, the new book from the legend himself, Doyle Brunson is that the book is big. Not just cookbook big, but larger than life, much like its author. Super System 2 clocks in at 672 pages, and much like its predecessor, it is 672 pages of solid advice, enlightening information, and sometimes, just plain good fun.

Given what has happened to the poker world in the last few years, I have to assume Doyle considered the writing of SS2 to be a daunting task. So much has changed since SS1 came out, and the poker world (and indeed the world as a whole) is a much different place than it was when the original tome hit the shelves in 1978 (although, I have heard at first very few bookstores stocked SS1. I was a wee tot at the time, so I cannot verify this).

As with the first Super System, Doyle turned to many players he respected to help in the assembly of this book. This book is in a way a collision of the old guard, and the new school. Returning from the first SS to contribute entire sections, are Bobby Baldwin, who handles Omaha/8 (Bobby wrote the Limit Hold Em section in SS1), and Mike Caro who brings much of his "Caro U" teachings to Super System 2 (Caro wrote the Draw poker section in SS1).

The book changes as the times have changed, and it is interesting to see because both books can serve as a 'snapshot' in time for the world of poker. Super System 2 is much more sophisticated than the first one, and the advice and material contained in this book really keep up with the times. Gone are the twenty some pages on Hi/Lo declare; in this book we have 50+ pages on triple draw (written by Daniel Negraneau).

There are many great parts of this book, but I must say the part I enjoyed as much as any other was the twenty or so pages where Doyle recounts some of his experiences the past twenty years, and many of his very personal thoughts throughout this time. This is written in first person speak, and much of it speaks to a very interesting life. Any successful person can crow about their successes, but it is the person who can be painfully honest about their failings that gets my respect. Doyle talks about bad business deals, personal challenges, and many other fascinating things.

Let's move on to the poker though, as that is clearly the focus of this book. There are essentially eight different sections that make up the meat of this book. They are:

1) A section on online poker written by Doyle.

2) 43 tips from Mike Caro University

3) Limit Hold Em, by Jennifer Harman

4) Omaha/8 by Bobby Baldwin

5) Stud/8 by Todd Brunson

6) Pot Limit Omaha by Lyle Berman

7) Triple Draw by Daniel Negraneau

8) No Limit Hold Em by Doyle

There are a few other nice touches in the book. A preface written by Johnny Chan, a small tournament section written by Doyle, the history of No Limit Hold Em, by Crandell Addington, and small sections written by Steve Z, as well as section on the World Poker Tour, written by WPT guru Steve Lipscomb.

The thing I like so much about this book is that of the 500 or so pages devoted to poker, only about 100 pages are No Limit Hold Em. With all the TV coverage of No Limit these days, we are seeing a world where we have players who are REALLY good No Limit players, who literally have never played one hand of Omaha/8, or deuce to seven. Maybe I am getting old, but I yearn for the days where people were card players, and focused on more than just one game. Sure, you would have your specialists in certain games, but most of the people who played had at least a working knowledge of the games, and could have fun playing mixed games for an evening.

Super System 2 allows a player unfamiliar with great games like Omaha, triple draw, etc to not only get a working knowledge of the game, but some real insight into good strategy, and the psychology of playing a specific game in contrast to other games. All of the sections have good information in them, and I cannot imagine even the most advanced player not taking several good pieces of information out of each section. Personally, I learned the most from the triple draw, Stud/8, and Limit Hold Em sections, though this didn't completely surprise me, as the first two are by far my weakest games. Not to single one section out, but I was surprised how much I took from the Limit Hold Em section, especially given how much Limit I play.

The key to the book, in my opinion, is the specifics some of the sections get into. All the sections on the individual games are very detailed, and addresses issues from specific hand scenarios, to overall psychology elements that apply to the game being specifically discussed.

Overall, I think Super System 2 represents an excellent value for the poker player. Players new to poker may be overwhelmed with some of the detailed game play and psychology, so I don't know that I would recommend SS2 for a first poker book. However, anyone who has a base knowledge of poker, and an eagerness to learn will get a great deal out of SS2. Poker is a game where we never stop learning, and I think anyone reading this could add SS2 to their list of tools to help them, and be happy with the value they got.

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