My main game is mid-high HU cash, so maybe we can get a HUSNG grinder to weigh in later.
I posted a review of Volume 1 in its main thread, which you can find here
I am interested in starting a study group (HUSNG and/or HUCash) for applying the stuff discussed in this book. Get in touch and I’ll set up something tailored for the amount of interest. I’ll be subbed to this thread, but PMs are preferred.
Expert Heads Up No-Limit Holdem Volume 2: Optimal and Exploitative Strategies (EHUNL2)
When D&B Poker released Expert Heads Up No-Limit Holdem: Volume 1 (EHUNL1), it was noted as advanced, but a difficult read. Advanced because it was one of the first accessible texts applying game theory and computational analysis to HUNL play, and difficult because of the technical nature of those computations and results. Over a year later, after replying to dozens of reader questions in threads such as these
, Tipton has evolved as a writer: organization and prose of Volume 2 is better than Volume 1’s. Note “The two books can be considered together as one complete work”; reading EHUNL2 by itself is like reading half of a book from the middle.
9 Preliminaries 13
9.1 Strategic Play: a Quick Review 13
9.2 The Game Plan 17
9.3 A River Refresher 24
9.4 Useful Tips for Estimating GTO Strategies 28
9.5 You Should Now … 49
A review of V1 with the best explanation of applied GTO-related concepts I have encountered in a long time (book or training site). It defines terms like “equilibrium” and “maximally exploitable”, and lays a foundation for why this stuff matters and how one could learn and apply the ideas in this book. There is always a trade-off between completeness/detail and accessibility, and I feel Will has done well.
Chapters 10 and 11
10 Turn Play: Polar Versus Bluff-catchers Redux 50
10.1 The Two Street PvBC Model 51
10.2 Weird Plays and Refinements
of the Nash Equilibrium Solution Concept 66
10.3 Bet Sizing and Geometric Pot Growth 69
10.4 Example: The SB Checks Back Bluff-catchers
on K♣-7♥-3♦-K♦ 72
10.5 Exploitative Play 83
10.6 Designing Statistics for Effective Decision Making 97
10.7 You Should Now… 105
11 Nearly Static, Nearly PvBC Turn Play 107
11.1 Range Splitting in the Presence of Draws
and Mediocre Made Hands 108
11.2 The Bluffing Range 114
11.3 Applying the Bluffing Indifference to Find
the BB’s Calling Range 125
11.4 Betting for Value and Protection 128
11.5 Wrapping it up: Exploitative Bluffing 135
11.6 EV Distributions 139
11.7 You Should Now … 142
Polar Versus Bluff-Catchers is a HUNL subgame that supposes one player has a range of nuts or air (polar), and her opponent has a range that beats all the air, and loses to all the nuts (bluffcatchers). Subgames are interesting because their solutions can tell us useful things about the real game. This topic was covered in V1, and V2 expands the work to solve for multi-street play. Chapter 11 considers non-static hand values (bringing it closer to real play), and builds from there.
12 Initiative and Less Common Turn Lines 144
12.1 Changes of Initiative 144
12.2 K♣-7♥-3♦-K♦Part Deux: The Computational Solution 147
12.3 The Delayed c-bet Versus the Turn Check-raise 152
12.4 Estimating Mixed Equilibria with Matrix Games 155
12.5 River Leads in Checked-down Pots 166
12.6 Lessons so Far: The c-bet Polar Dynamic 168
12.7 Example: The BB Check-calls Bluff-catchers
and Some Traps on 9♥-2♠-9♦-A♠ 171
12.8 The Turn Protection Raise 177
12.9 You Should Now … 192
Explains the convention of initiative, points out that GTO strategies often respect initiative despite it not being enforced by the rules of the game. The chapter explains why, quantifying the rationale for NLHE conventions, when they could be incorrect (with examples), and why.
Chapters 13, 14, and 15:
13 Turn Play: Volatile Boards and Capture Factors 194
13.1 Example: Turn Play after a Flop c-bet
on K♣-Q♠-8♥-5♥100BB deep 195
13.2 A Philosophical Note on the Program
of Solving Subgames 201
13.3 Example: Turn Play 145BB deep on A♣-4♥-2♥-7♦ 202
13.4 Where the Money Comes From: Turn Play
with River Capture Factors 208
13.5 Low-variance Strategies Versus Unknown Opponents 223
13.6 Example: Turn Play 73BB deep on K♣-10♣-5♣-J♦ 225
13.7 Example: Turn Play 66BB deep on Q♣-10♠-8♦-9♥ 230
13.8 Conclusions and Foreshadowing: The SB Flop
c-betting Range 237
13.9 You Should Now ... 240
13.10 Appendix: Solving the 1-bet-behind River Game 240
14 Flop Play and the C-bet Dynamic 242
14.1 The Singly-raised Pots 245
14.2 7♠-6♦-5♠Redux 277
14.3 The Limped Pots 282
14.4 The 3-bet Pots 295
14.5 The c-bet Dynamic 315
14.6 Lessons and Conclusions 321
14.7 You Should Now … 325
15 Pre-flop Play 326
15.1 Exploitative Opening 327
15.2 Short-stacked Pre-flop Play 335
15.3 Lessons and Extensions 367
15.4 You Should Now … 370
These chapters are the meat of the book, and driven by computational solutions to large games.
Chapter 13 is about turn play: protection, bet sizing, and the use of capture factors**. Chapter 14 is basically all about flop cbetting, and how equilibrium solutions point to flop strategies that differ from “standard” play. As a HU Cash player, this was the most interesting chapter of the book for me. Chapter 15 covers preflop play and directly applicable to HUSNG and CAP games. Values of games for both positions at 6-10bb are graphed, and everything is written for easier application than other books (MoP is too general to of use for grinders without more study, iirc moshman’s book barely goes into detail, and mers’ book is probably the best but basically standard these days for midstakes+ husng grinders).
I hesitate to go into more detail because these are the most dense chapters in the book, and any fair summary of the contents would be complicated. Those who read Volume 1 may sympathize: this section does what V1’s seven long-form examples were attempting to do, but with more clarity. Where V1 tended to go “here’s a spot, here’s the solution, here’s what we can learn” (sounds fine but painful in practice), V2 does a bit more work for the reader and often explains solutions as they apply to an established situation type.
Chapters 16 and 17:
16 Win-rate Maximizing Play 371
16.1 Tournaments Versus Cash Games 371
16.2 Recursive Games 373
16.3 Passing up Marginal Spots 383
16.4 You Should Now … 389
17 Putting it all Together 390
17.1 Figuring Out our Opponents’ Play 390
17.2 Adjustment 411
17.3 Final Thoughts 423
Chapter 17 is the most generally applicable to all forms of poker and discusses how to improve.
It discusses issues such as assumptions/player profiling, recursive games, and how pruning game trees could aid one in playing well against someone significantly worse or better than you. There is an explanation of why cEV is not always $ev in HUSNG formats.
-I hated the equity distribution graphing convention of eq(h) = 1-h, carried over from V1.
-Graph/chart presentation is competent. Some graphs are hard to read but this is nitpicking. To be fair, V1 had the same problem, but its slightly better here.
-This book is probably going to get flack for being hard/not fun. Key phrases being “boring, too much math/stats”. This is a stellar outcome considering the intended audience and subject matter. For the more vocal negative reviewers: explaining game theory without math (more specifically, using formulas and concise abstractions) is like explaining pot odds/equity without numbers (“I’ll hit my draw most of the time“). The minimum “math-y” competency required is lower than that other dense poker theory book: Mathematics of Poker.
This is a textbook, a tool for someone interested in finding, studying, applying game theory optimal strategies. Application refers to understanding GTO strategies well enough to use effective exploitative strategies: the idea is to know how GTO works, know how to maximally exploit (over an individual hand, or longer games), and maximize profit. Getting stuck, re-reading, disengaging to process the ideas is part of the process. It is not a normal poker book in the casual non-fiction sense (read straight through, then shelved to maybe skim for enjoyment later).
Something Will warns about, and I have a lot of personal experience with is incorrect application.
It’s easy to misunderstand, or understand but misapply...and the adjustments you make can be worse EV-wise than if you didn’t change your game at all (except now you’re likely to have a superiority complex because you perceive your game as “new” / “stronger”). Standard advice to focus on learning over short term profit and staying extremely self critical applies here.
Assuming you have read the rest of the review and are still not sure if this book will be useful to you:
-HU players: if the topics don’t immediately turn you off as too math-focused, this is likely to be the best poker book you will ever read.
-Ring players, MTT players: “This stuff seems interesting, but can I apply it to my games?”
It depends. Ring players with a good (quantitative) grasp on their ranges will have an easier time. Tipton explains differences between solving full games/subgames and applying them to real play. With some creativity, in any situation where you can enumerate full ranges (either an approximation, or completely), you can use this stuff. Not as applicable to solving long-handed preflop strategy (or non-HU postflop spots).
-Gifters, non-poker players: I recommend asking the intended recipient if the topics are interesting to her. This doesn’t work as a surprise gift. Gifting technical texts is tricky as the buyer knows less than the recipient about the topic, and EHUNL2 is on technical side of things. See this amazon review of V1
. This is not a good beginner’s book.
*I not met Will in person. When I wrote this, I got the book from Will and was told to write whatever I want. I consider my main game mid-high HUNL cash, and am learning PLO.
**Capture Factors: Those familiar with “r” as popularized by Lefort on Run It Once will see similarities: note that Lefort was using this as an abstraction to construct preflop ranges, not make post-turn decisions.