When Ben ‘Sauce123’ Sulsky announced that he was going to sell his secrets to the world, and join Run It One as an online poker coach, there was a mini-uprising on the 2+2 forums. Phil Galfond’s star signing divided opinion, with a lot of concerned voices casting doubts over the sensibility of selling your knowledge to the floundering fish.
I believe it is a natural feeling to want to share your wisdom with the world. This goes far beyond ego and instead it’s a natural human trait to help others less fortunate than ourselves that lives inside most of us. Well, that and the additional income that training others brings into our lives. Yes…the money helps also.
You are never going to stop people from wanting to teach others. If Sulsky had not joined Run It Once then someone else would have. The online poker training sites will always exist as long as we have online poker. Their vast database of member’s testament to the value of the product they sell.
Yet it isn’t just online coaching that creates a forum for players to improve their game. There is a huge array of options in the personal coaching department, and there is a library full of poker books all created in order to make people rich in either experience, knowledge or just plain old cash.
Three of these books have passed into my sub-conscious during the past few months. Bluefire Poker’s ‘How to Crush Online Poker in 2013’ promised to improve my online cash game skills; Jonathan Little’s ‘The Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Volume 3: The Complete Workout’ promised likewise for my tournament game and finally ‘The Mental Game of Poker 2’ by Jared Tendler offered to help me deal with my off the felt issues.
So three very different books, but did they really deliver?
How to Crush Online Poker in 2013 by Bluefire Poker
Bluefire Poker was the online training site where Phil Galfond first made his name as a coach before an acrimonious split saw the two factions heading to the courtrooms, and if Galfond had still been at the helm there is no way that he would have sanctioned the publication of this book.
13 Bluefire poker pros promise to give you an ‘in-depth strategy on online cash games’ and instead offer you the complete opposite. It reads like a series of hurried homework assignments, and I have this vision of the pros grinding away on the felt only to realize that they have promised to write a chapter on ‘exploiting regs,’ and then tired and irritated they sit down to complete their assignment before getting back to what they know best.
There is nothing knew in the pages of this book. You’ve heard it all before and told ten times better, and this is a crying shame because for many years Bluefire Poker has been at the top of the food chain when it comes to online cash game coaching. This is not to say that the quality of the coaching has diminished, but this book is not up the usual high standards that you would expect from a site that has seen Galfond, Jason Senti, Niman Kenkre, Martin Fournier and Dusty Schmidt produce some of the greatest coaching videos in living memory.
Give this one a miss.
The Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker Volume 3: The Complete Workout by Jonathan Little
I like this book a lot and think that Little has really thought out his product ahead of time. The Bluefire Poker pros should check out the attention to detail that Little has put into this book and mail it to themselves for future reference.
The book dissects a series of hands that Little played in the $25,000 World Poker Tour (WPT) Championships at The Bellagio, a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) event, and $2,500 event, at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
The book takes you through each tournament hand by hand and Little’s attention to detail is stunning. Every piece of information needed for you to analyze the play is present and correct in each page you read. As Little takes you through the play – street-by-street – you are given a series of choices like a classic Ian Livingstone style fantasy book.
Each choice you make will provide you with a series of points that you can use to rate your progress as a live tournament player. After the river play has been completed Little then takes you through his thought process behind every option you had to take throughout the hand. Once again the action is street-by-street and Little is meticulous in his analysis.
I found this poker book an extremely valuable tool, and it really helps you gain an insight into the minutiae of tournament poker.
A must buy for a live tournament player looking to improve their game.
The Mental Game of Poker 2
Jared Tendler has the ability to make you a very rich man indeed. The Mental Game of Poker was a revelation when it was released, and the follow up is every bit as good.
Whereas the two previous books focused on the technical aspects of the game, Tendler focuses on the mental aspect. For a lot of poker players this is where their leak will be. The ability to manage their emotions better than their opponents.
Lex Veldhuis said that ‘The Mental Game of Poker is the best poker book ever written – and it’s not even close’, and he might have to eat his words after reading the follow up.
If you have two players of equal talent squaring of in the rectangular circle, you can guarantee that – luck aside – the winner will be the person who has his shit together off the felt. The Mental Game of Poker 2 is designed to help you get that shit together.
He covered finding and playing consistently in the zone, he deconstructs the learning process and teaches you how to learn, talks about focus, the power of goal setting and everything else that you will NOT find any other poker book in publication.
If you suffer from tilt then you have to buy this book. If you don’t suffer from tilt then you are a liar.
A must buy for everyone involved in the game of poker.