It is slowly becoming one of the dominant section of poker bookshelves in stores and in the homes of poker players worldwide. The World Poker Tour book series, kicked off with WPT commentator and poker champion Mike Sexton's "Shuffle Up And Deal" and followed by 2004 WPT Player of the Year Erick Lindgren's "Making The Final Table", has done a great deal to pull the veil back on the intricacies of poker. They have definitely added much to the series with their latest effort, WPT champion Antonio Esfandiari's new book "In The Money".
The book, out now in bookstores everywhere for $15.95 U. S./$21.50 Canadian, is a difficult subject, to say the least. It focuses on the world of cash game poker, which even the most diehard tournament player must have a grasp of to be able to supplement their poker bankroll during the lean periods of cash outs from the tournament game. Esfandiari has teamed up with poker writer David Apostolico (previously reviewed here at PokerNews for "Tournament Poker And The Art Of War" and "Machiavellian Poker Strategy") to present a very comprehensive look at the cash game world and how to achieve some measure of success in that highly competitive arena.
For those that may have read Antonio's writing style in Bluff Magazine or through his website and have found that they don't like it, rest assured the collaboration with Apostolico has toned that down some. The writing of the book is in a very straightforward style, without the "in the circle" Antonio-speak that seems to be a part of his other writing efforts. If the people who don't like Antonio's style don't read this book, they would be missing out on a very valuable way of adding ammunition to their poker guns.
"In The Money" presents a thorough look at cash game poker and is a tremendous demonstration of the skills it takes to be successful in that arena. Esfandiari does a fantastic job of demonstrating the differing skills that it takes to be strong at such games versus the equally challenging world of tournament poker. He makes several valid points in the early part of the book by commenting on the overall attitude that it takes to be a ring game player, including but not limited to not playing "afraid", the importance of folding, and playing as frequently as possible (and playing a variety of situations, from full table games to heads up) to improve your game, among other things. Most of these points can be found in other various books, but "In The Money" is one of the first I have seen that brings them all together under one title. It is obvious that Antonio has been an excellent student of the game and has culled his knowledge from a variety of sources.
Another thing that I liked very much about "In The Money" is that Antonio liberally peppers the book with critical demonstrations of some of the ideas he presents. He will delve into the actual play of hands he has participated in and details his mental calculations which get across the points of a particular chapter or paragraph. These implementations of some of the theories through the retelling of actual play not only assist in demonstrating his thoughts but also show how a poker player should weigh all the factors at the table. Most books do not attempt to step into this physical demonstration at all, relying only on their statements to make the point and not showing a practical application. Antonio and David have to be praised for taking the time to demonstrate the tactics behind the guidelines that they write about.
What makes the book a bit difficult is actually what makes cash game poker the difficult world that it is. Because ring games are often an ever changing conflagration, trying to devise a strategy for them is difficult as well. "In The Money" doesn't lay out a distinct strategy for this very same reason. It does, however, give a very good demonstration of the tactics and thoughts that can be implemented at the tables, which will give many a leg up on becoming a success in such a volatile surrounding. For that reason alone, Antonio Esfandiari's "In The Money" is a worthy addition to the World Poker Tour book series and should be added to any poker player's library.
Ed note: Antonio endorses Ultimate Bet hurry, and play with him there.