If Hollywood creates a classic movie, normally its first mistake is to do a sequel to the film. In most cases, the sequel is never as good as the original, although there are exceptions where the second film is better than the first. This is the case we have here with Erick Lindgren's new book, the second part of the WPT Champions of Poker book series called "WPT: Making The Final Table", due in the stores November 2nd for the nice price of $15.95 US ($21.50 Canadian).
With the first in the series ("WPT: Shuffle Up And Deal"), World Poker Tour announcer and champion player Mike Sexton was able, in a very easy and readable manner, to convey the details of the game that many look for in a poker book. The book, however, was more useful in the limit world than that of tournament poker, especially No-Limit. They have addressed that problem through the efforts of Erick Lindgren and his co-writer and friend, Matt Matros. Lindgren was the 2004 (Season Two) WPT Player of the Year, winning two championships that year, and Matros is known for his fantastic run in the 2004 WPT Championship, when he placed third. Matros has also contributed his own excellent book to the poker community ("The Making of A Poker Player") so, between the two of them, they have come up with an excellent tournament poker attack method.
Lindgren repeats a mantra throughout the book:
"Here's the book in one paragraph - 'Play to win, not to survive.'...Always accept that you have to risk going broke at some point in order to win the tournament. Don't be complacent when you get close to the money. Play to win the whole freakin' thing!"
He doesn't just give up these quotables, though. Lindgren walks us through every stage of a WPT event, just as if we are playing in his head. There are early and mid-tournament strategies presented, as well as a look at play during the important "bubble period". He seamlessly eases into late tournament discussion and, eventually, what to do once you have reached the final table and the eventual heads-up confrontation.
Lindgren advocates an aggressive and, some would say, overly loose style. What he is presenting in "WPT: Making The Final Table" is tournament poker the way it is played here in today's new world of poker. Most poker books tell you that, in a tournament, accumulating chips is the key thing. Erick does this as well, but then gives you the blueprints to doing just that. Through practice, it is a style that can be assimilated into a poker player's style or used as a strategy outright.
Erick admits himself that he isn't the most mathematically minded of people and therefore brings Matros into the book for those purposes. Matt contributes two excellent mathematical bits to the book which address poker math and tournament equity. These, while maybe a little numbers-filled for the average player, actually show that, in most cases, there is a tremendous amount of logic in making what seems to be an illogical play.
Another part of the book that is special is where Erick steps away from the tables and tells a poker player how to handle the new million (or millions) you've won. He is refreshingly candid that he has made some mistakes with the money he has won and, in this section, really presents a very mature and thoughtful look at the possible pitfalls of poker success. For a gentleman who is not yet 30, this is a remarkable feat and is something that any player can put to use.
"WPT: Making The Final Table" is almost like Dan Harrington's No-Limit Hold 'Em volumes ran headlong into Barry Greenstein's "Ace On The River" and came out on the other side with another winner. The book is a quick and easy read at 191 pages (approximately forty pages are appendices) and most any poker player can pick up on what Erick is attempting to teach here. If there is one drawback, it would be the short length of the book; I would have loved to have seen Lindgren deal more in depth with more tournament issues that players will face.
While Mike Sexton's book was the foundation, Erick Lindgren's has come out with the true art of the game of poker. "WPT: Making The Final Table" has, in many ways, exceeded the Sexton original as a training manual for tournament poker players. Ideally the two books would be excellent to use together, but for those that are looking for a tournament guide alone, Lindgren's "WPT: Making The Final Table" is an exceptional book to have.
Ed Note: Erick plays at Full Tilt, along with many others. Go play with him now.