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Old 02-01-2009, 02:39 PM   #1
Alvin the Chipmunk
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The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

Mason thinks Tommy Angelo's The Elements of Poker sucks! Here is his review of it in the February 2009 issue of the latest Two Plus Two Magazine.

"Elements of Poker (4) by Tommy Angelo. In the avalanche of poker books that have been released the past few years, it’s just expected that non-standard books, whatever that means, will appear, and this includes the self-help variety which is what we have here. This author writes 144 elements, which are snippets of his thoughts on lots of different subjects related to how he perceives playing poker and the impact that certain actions and attitudes have on your mental make-up and how these actions and attitudes can affect your play.

Even though the elements are written in a witty fashion, with cute made-up words and catchy expressions, the question I ask is “Will any of this help a beginning or intermediate player achieve better results at the poker table?” It is my opinion that the answer is no. Boosting someone’s confidence without supplying solid strategic advice (or at least giving the source where that advice is available) is, again in my opinion, a sure formula for negative results.

Now with this being said, there are some ideas in this text that I do think have value. For instance the ideas of striving to have two tight players seated on your left and then the live ones will take care of themselves, his “look to the left” discussion, and some of his starting hand discussion where he emphasizes hands that you should never play are worthwhile.

But there are also discussions that don’t seem to have any value at all, or if they have value exactly where that value is derived is not explained. This includes “Slow Folding and Fast Folding,” some of his tournament discussion, and the idea that king-queen is in a hand group all by itself.

The reason I don’t rate this book lower is that there are probably a few people out there who might get some benefit from this stuff, or at least adamantly think that it helps them, and perhaps for a small minority or readers that might be the case. But this text is certainly not recommended, even as supplemental reading."

But I don't think Mason gets it...
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Old 02-01-2009, 02:48 PM   #2
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Alvin the Chipmunk View Post
But I don't think Mason gets it...
Doesn't get what??? You just mean the book is designed to give you confidence blah blah....

That sounds like a pretty solid/honest review.

I've heard big things of this book and Tommy Angelo. However, his magazine articles are pure wank imo.

I hoped his book wouldn't be similar but this review summarises my own thoughts on Tommy's magazine extracts, which makes me feel the book may be much the same if this review is accurate.
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Old 02-01-2009, 07:04 PM   #3
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I'm not a big fan of the book either. Although there were one or two things that gave me something to think about further (i think it was a chapter on shorthanded play, and raising from position - bread and butter situations? something like that.) I certainly dont understand where much of the high praise comes from. I will probably give it another read at some point and try to understand something i missed the first time.
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:14 PM   #4
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I liked the book. alot actually

However, as I'd imagine, this isn't like the typical 2+2 book to be written, I can see how mason disapproves. The Poker Mindset is more 'practical'
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Old 02-01-2009, 08:27 PM   #5
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Acombfosho View Post
I liked the book. alot actually

However, as I'd imagine, this isn't like the typical 2+2 book to be written, I can see how mason disapproves. The Poker Mindset is more 'practical'
"The Poker Mindset" is not a 2+2 book. Neither is "Your Worst Poker Enemy". I found both to be more useful than Tommy's book, which I was never able to finish reading.

But all of the above are psych books, and psych books are highly subjective. A book that is great for one person may not work at all for another. I got a few good things out of Tommy's book, but overall I was not impressed. And I bought the book wanting to like it.
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Old 02-01-2009, 09:25 PM   #6
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

This book will definitely not help you with improving your strategy. Based on Tommy's DC articles he has a pretty mediocre understanding of poker theory, at least for nl holdem anyway.

That said there are some useful parts to his book, the concept of reciprocality applies to many poker situations and is a useful way to think about and explain various aspects of the game.

Even for advanced players this book has useful content, if only to get you thinking about them. Things like quitting, keeping score, various emotional issues. There are no 2+2 titles I've read that can claim the same accomplishment.

The book would have been a lot better if some of the strategy advice was removed. I agree with Mason's assessment but I still found it to be an enjoyable read.
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Old 02-01-2009, 10:43 PM   #7
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I'm going to check out that poker worst enemy, infact all of his books look good!
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:12 AM   #8
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

i didn't love the book.

additionally, when compared to "inside the poker mind" it doesn't stack up.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:24 AM   #9
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I was disappointed by the book.. I got it because so many people gave it excellent reviews. Maybe I need to read it again because I don't get it.
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:12 AM   #10
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

"Inside the Poker Mind" still, to me, is still the most helpful book when dealing with poker mindset. Its a hard read but will improve players drasticlly. I havent read the Elements of Poker, and after reading reviews from actual readers on here, I dont think I will.
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:01 AM   #11
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

Anyone who doesn't think Elements of Poker is one of the best poker books out there doesn't understand the game in its entirety and does not appreciate quality writing. I am seriously surprised at the negative comments and feedback from this book.

Not all poker books intentions are to school you on fundamentals of the technical aspects of poker. In fact, you can get that information almost anywhere. The 'external variables' as I like to call them are what makes up most of being a poker player. Understanding yourself, your surroundings, and your place within them is so vital and often so overlooked.

I do not agree with Mason and frankly he disappoints here in my opinion.

And to those who have not read the book, I recommend you spend a few hours and make a decision for yourself. It is far worth the time and the sacrifice is minimal. The book is a true gem and many well respected players/posters would agree with me here...
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Old 02-02-2009, 04:04 AM   #12
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by JackCase View Post
"The Poker Mindset" is not a 2+2 book. Neither is "Your Worst Poker Enemy". I found both to be more useful than Tommy's book, which I was never able to finish reading.

But all of the above are psych books, and psych books are highly subjective. A book that is great for one person may not work at all for another. I got a few good things out of Tommy's book, but overall I was not impressed. And I bought the book wanting to like it.
I agree with you. It sounds to me like Ace on the River, which a lot of people didn't like, but other people loved. For instance, didn't Mason give Greenstein's book a great review? As you say, these types of books are subjective, which makes a review of them difficult but all the more valuable to people who are considering buying.
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:25 AM   #13
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I though Elements was a very good book. I'm also a little surprised to see that MM and others were so disappointed with it. Although

Quote:
the question I ask is “Will any of this help a beginning or intermediate player achieve better results at the poker table?” It is my opinion that the answer is no.
is probably fair to say. But eh, I guess that's why they make ice cream in different flavors
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Old 02-02-2009, 06:34 AM   #14
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

That book was overhyped and overrated. I got it because of great reviews as well and was deeply dissapointed. His poker advices are bad (especially tournament ones) and the majority of the book is how conduct yourself and play in live limit games . He talks a lot about playing your A game more often, but really doesn't offer any significant insights on how to achieve it.

I think a lot of people were fascinated with it, because Phil Galfond said he was coached by Angelo and it helped him a lot, so those words created kindof mystical "misunderstood by others" aura about the book. When in fact, it is a mediocre piece, who will mostly help live limit players. It's practically useless for online. It is easy and entertaining to read, i'll give it that.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:07 AM   #15
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I don't think this book really can be over-rated for many players. How many games have you been in where the emotional control of one or more players made the profit potential HUGE when it was NOTHING just a few minutes before? The important thing is not to be that guy. I hope nobody likes this book really, suits me right down to the ground.
Phil Galfond is enough to be fascinated as to what made him the amazing player he is. But Angelo did not just coach him, he also coached Krantz, and Joe Tall, and .....!! I would be pleased to take the concepts of this book to heart.

Mason's work is great. He has done much for the game. Angelo is a different sort of fellow really. Not surprising MM would not be a fan really. I don't think that means it isn't good.

Many of you are just going to have figure out that much of the stuff that seems like crunchy hippie crap is actually true. I hope you do. It doesn't just make you a better player, it makes you a happier person as well.
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Old 02-02-2009, 07:35 AM   #16
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

Tommy Angelo writes poker LITERATURE. Mason writes stiff, clumsily worded cookie-cutter advice. It does not surprise me MM doesn´t like EOP. I don´t think TA does or should care. His book is a winner. A terrific piece of work with nuggets of (poker) wisdom you won´t find anywhere else. Besides being witty, entertaining and motivational. No instead 2+2 has Dr. Al on board.......PLEEEAAZZZZUUUHHHH.
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Old 02-02-2009, 08:55 AM   #17
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Uncle Wimp View Post
I agree with you. It sounds to me like Ace on the River, which a lot of people didn't like, but other people loved. For instance, didn't Mason give Greenstein's book a great review? As you say, these types of books are subjective, which makes a review of them difficult but all the more valuable to people who are considering buying.
Perhaps it's because I'm a struggling micro-stakes player trying to learn the basics (I don't know about anyone else, but the basics have been strikingly difficult for me to absorb), but I got little from Angelo's book, and enjoyed Greenstein but can't say I got a lot of useful information from it (again, perhaps because I'm not advanced enough to find it useful).

The style of EOP seemed just a bit too cute and contrived for me, too.

I have a feeling that the information in EOP is more suited to personal coaching. Can anyone who has been coached by Angelo comment on this?
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:59 AM   #18
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

OP--

Does this surprise you?

--Nate
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:17 PM   #19
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

And for what its worth, if you go back and read many of Tommys posts from way back in the day you will understand why so many are enamored by his words and thoughts. To many he was well respected far before coaching big name pros like Phil and Jay.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:32 PM   #20
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by Uncle Wimp View Post
I agree with you. It sounds to me like Ace on the River, which a lot of people didn't like, but other people loved. For instance, didn't Mason give Greenstein's book a great review? As you say, these types of books are subjective, which makes a review of them difficult but all the more valuable to people who are considering buying.
I agree with this. When I was first learning how to be a poker player I read Holdem Poker for Advanced Players, Theory of Poker etc., and they were very helpful. When I wanted to learn how to be a better professional poker player, I read Ace on the River, Elements of Poker, etc. - all the "psychology" poker books. The latter category are the only ones I ever see myself reading again and again.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:46 PM   #21
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

It's been a while since I've read this, but I agree with the posters who question some of the strategy advice. If my memory is correct I thought the tournament advice was a mix of obvious or incorrect. I believe Angelo's normal game is live/cash and suspect he wanted some strategy for the four categories he used included (live/online combined with tournament/cash although those aren't the terms he used). The book would have been stronger overall without some of the strategy sections.

But really the specific strategy advice is a very small part of the book. I thought the comparison a poster made to "Ace on the River" was a good one. Whatever value is there from AoR or EoP is going to be working on non-strategic parts of your game. Personally I found more value in some of the ideas in EoP than I did in "Ace on the River." The two that immediately come to mind are Angelo's "reciprocity" theory (although I had already seen this on his web site) and the idea that the key to improved results is not by improving your "A" game, but by playing your "A" game a larger part of the time along with some of his ideas on how you might do this. As another poster said, psych books and how a person reacts is going to be very specific to the individual. PoP did absolutely nothing for me while "Inside the Poker Mind" and (even more) "The Poker Mindset" along with EoP did. Your mileage may (and probably will) vary.
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Old 02-02-2009, 01:58 PM   #22
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

I've read nearly all of the major poker literature out there, and EoP has been the most useful to me as well as the most beneficial to several people I have coached who now play 25/50NL and higher. Anyone denying that it has applications to live and online games is essentially making the claim that poker is purely strategic, and those people are wrong.
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Old 02-02-2009, 02:38 PM   #23
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

Wanted to make a joke, but I'm not that funny.

Anyways, one of the better poker books out there .. obviously not targeted at the casual players, but for anyone that grinds around 1000 hands daily or more, it is much more real than anything published before .. like for example the Schoonmaker books.

Last edited by Gelford; 02-02-2009 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:04 PM   #24
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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Originally Posted by KRANTZ View Post
I've read nearly all of the major poker literature out there, and EoP has been the most useful to me as well as the most beneficial to several people I have coached who now play 25/50NL and higher. Anyone denying that it has applications to live and online games is essentially making the claim that poker is purely strategic, and those people are wrong.
^^^

The book is great but I do think he needs to be more specific about the HOWS in his recommendations.

Tommy was a little vague in this department but overall loved the book.
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Old 02-02-2009, 10:00 PM   #25
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Re: The Elements of Poker - Mason's Review

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^^^

The book is great but I do think he needs to be more specific about the HOWS in his recommendations.

Tommy was a little vague in this department but overall loved the book.
I think a lot of the book is the reader finding out what the "hows" are. Tommy shows a lot of different angles on how to look at and think about things. He provides a bit of a framework for you to figure out your own answers.

Once I started approaching games with non-standard goals, like "quitting well," I started seeing improvements that had been a long time coming.

BTW, most fun poker book I've ever read. Love his writing style.
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