Poker Book Review: Daniel Negreanu's 'More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players'
Since 2005, Daniel Negreanu has penned a weekly poker column, "Playing Poker with Daniel Negreanu," that has been syndicated in newspapers around the U.S. and Canada. The column has additionally appeared in other places online, and this year the Poker Players Alliance began offering it to its members as well. In the column, Negreanu provides general poker instruction to a wide audience, most often focusing on hold'em — both cash games and tourneys — while conveying a variety of fundamental concepts in a brief, easily digestible format.
In early 2007 came Negreanu's first book, Hold'em Wisdom for All Players, which compiled a number of his columns into a sequence of "50 powerful tips to make you a winning player." The just-released sequel, More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players, follows an almost identical format, presenting fifty more of Negreanu's columns this time arranged into four parts: "Winning Tournaments with Smart Play," "Playing Your Players, Your Position and (Oh, Yes) Your Cards," "Betting and Bluffing with No Fear," and "What's the Best Play? Using Poker Wisdom as Your Guide." The columns included in this second volume all appear to have been originally written and published between the summer 2006 and fall 2007.
As was the case with the first book of tips, More Hold'em Wisdom brings together a number of useful observations about various aspects of Texas hold'em. Unlike in the first volume, where some of the chapters focused on more general observations about psychology, theory, or non-specific poker-related issues (e.g., "Top 5 Reasons Why You're Losing at Poker"), all but a couple of the chapters in the second book are dedicated to outlining particular strategic advice.
The first part, "Winning Tournaments with Smart Play," presents in fits and starts various ideas related to Negreanu's "small ball" approach outlined more comprehensively in last summer's Daniel Negreanu's Power Hold'em Strategy. Negreanu here explains why it is essential to "Play More Hands in Tournaments" than in cash games, while also balancing aggression ("When to Be Aggressive in Tournament Play") and caution ("Defense Wins Championships").
The second part, "Playing Your Players, Your Position and (Oh, Yes) Your Cards," gathers together tips that relate to recognizing different player types and consciously manipulating one's own image effectively. Thus one finds chapters on "Exploiting Weak-Tight Players" and "Playing Against a Poker Maniac," as well as advice about mixing up one's own play (e.g., "Three Ways to Add Deception to Your Game"). Other tips here include a chapter warning against Mike Caro's "Fancy Play Syndrome," two chapters on blind-vs.-blind play, and even a chapter on limit hold'em.
The chapters gathered together as examples of "Betting and Bluffing with No Fear" then take players through discussions of bet-sizing, bluffing and bluff-catching, value betting, among other (mostly) post-flop decisions. One theme that emerges here stems from the "small ball" theory of maintaining pot control, with several chapters arguing for situations where calling is in fact the recommended course, even if doing so tends to go against more popular suggestions (e.g., that one is in a "raise or fold" situation).
As the title of the final part suggests — "What's the Best Play? Using Poker Wisdom as Your Guide" — here one finds a kind of miscellany of tips that didn't fit under any of the other categories. Several of the chapters in this part comment on how to approach specific starting hands, including premium hands, suited connectors, and so-called "trouble hands" like ace-queen.
Despite the titles' indication that these books are "for all players," both of these compilations of Negreanu's columns are primarily aimed at the novice player, as most of the concepts covered are going to be familiar to experienced players. Indeed, for those with lots of poker books on their shelves, the brevity of the chapters in the Hold'em Wisdom books is probably going to prove frustrating, given how difficult it is to add much depth to the discussions when one is confined to 600 words or so (as Negreanu is for the column).
Another problem with More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players worth noting is the fact that some of its advice tends to repeat pointers already delivered in the first volume. In fact — in what must have been an editorial slip — one of the chapters in More Hold'em Wisdom, "Calling with the Worst Hand," actually repeats a chapter that appeared in the first volume (where it was titled "Calling with the Worse Hand").
Even so, Negreanu does present his tips clearly and effectively. And, as we have come to recognize from his many appearances on television, podcasts, forums, and elsewhere, Negreanu does possess a knack for being able to explain difficult concepts in simple, accessible ways. More Hold'em Wisdom for All Players certainly provides further evidence of that not-so-common ability.