12-26-2012 , 09:08 PM

Expert Heads Up NoLimit Hold’em v.1 by Will Tipton is probably the most advanced book on NLH I have read and for various reasons, it is also a difficult read.

After a short introduction on poker game theory, the author resolves some preflop games. It starts with the shove/fold game already resolved in The Mathematics of Poker (MoP). The next game was the raise/shove game where the SB min-raises, gets shoved on (or not) and either calls or folds. I tried to resolve it myself earlier this year when I was dabbling in HUSNG and my approximate solutions for various stack sizes were looser than the author’s by a good 10-20% of total hands. This really shows me that if you want to do some serious work with Nash equilibria in poker, nothing can replace a solid computational solution. One notable omission in this chapter is the lack of a graph showing the value of the raise/shove game to the SB/BB.

Then the author moves on to the 3-bet/4-bet/5-bet game and uses it to explain the indifference principle, commonly used to build balanced strategies.

It is worth noting that whenever the author gives an optimal solution, it is always followed by a discussion of the exploitive adjustments one can make and often the author speaks in depth of the possible strategies, counter-strategies and sometimes counter- counter-strategies that can be implemented in real games.

The Equity Distributions chapter explains range visualisation and hand evaluation. I saw graphs similar to the equity graphs in the book but never could figure out how I could use them practically. Reading this chapter would have saved me a lot of time in the past when I was trying to compare various ranges against each other in the dark in order to devise appropriate strategies only to end up giving up.

The Postflop Concept chapter gives a short introduction to lines that can be taken on a very dry board and a very volatile (understand “wet”) flop. We will have to wait the release of volume 2 to get a more complete discussion of the flop and turn because volume 1 focuses on the river.

The River Play chapter is about 130 pages long and is at the same time interesting and frustrating. In this chapter, the author gives 8 examples, with the SB and BB ranges and a computationally verified Nash Equilibrium for these ranges as well as theoretical concepts for different stack sizes and ranges on the river. Of the whole book, I already know that it is the chapter I will re-read and work on the most in the next few days in order to develop a better intuition of what an optimal, practical NL solution is like on the river.

Unlike what a previous reviewer has said, I find the author’s style as dry and verbose as it can be (FYI, English is my second language) very different from his “forum” style which is also dry but concise. This makes the book somewhat difficult to read: on the one hand, I found myself skipping paragraphs thinking “Yeah, I get it, no need to go on and on” but on the other hand, I had to read other paragraphs several times because I had a hard time linking theory to real hands or ranges. In some way, the book is the complete opposite of another D&B book, Secrets of Short-Handed No limit Hold’em by Danny Ashman, a HU book heavy on hand histories and exploitive plays but light on theory.

Also, unlike MoP, the author is quite light on calculations and algorithms, often giving the end results without giving the intermediate steps; this is a real shame because I suspect the book is potentially even more interesting to poker theorists than it is to HU experts but the author decided to cater to the latter, not so much to the former. This can be explained by a fear that the book doesn’t sell well if it is too heavy on maths - which it is in a frustrating way, as, for example, I have no idea where the equation on page 226 is coming from – then why offer the raise/shove chart for free in the “Extras” section of D&B website? Surely, the author and the editor must have realised that there are some very pragmatic, “hands-on” HU player types who can’t care less about HU theory and only care about the tools that can improve their EV now. I have no doubt that it is a matter of time before this chart is copied everywhere but not releasing the chart for free would have certainly given the book a sale boost (Yes, the chart is worth a lot of money for someone who plays HUSNG for a living).

Despite these flaws, I will be looking forward to volume 2 and what the author has to say on the flop and turn. I would recommend the book to someone who is either interested in poker theory or HUNL, but not as their first book, more like their fourth or fifth one.
12-27-2012 , 08:08 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donkey111

Expert Heads Up NoLimit Hold’em v.1 by Will Tipton is probably the most advanced book on NLH I have read and for various reasons, it is also a difficult read.

After a short introduction on poker game theory, the author resolves some preflop games. It starts with the shove/fold game already resolved in The Mathematics of Poker (MoP). The next game was the raise/shove game where the SB min-raises, gets shoved on (or not) and either calls or folds. I tried to resolve it myself earlier this year when I was dabbling in HUSNG and my approximate solutions for various stack sizes were looser than the author’s by a good 10-20% of total hands. This really shows me that if you want to do some serious work with Nash equilibria in poker, nothing can replace a solid computational solution. One notable omission in this chapter is the lack of a graph showing the value of the raise/shove game to the SB/BB.

Then the author moves on to the 3-bet/4-bet/5-bet game and uses it to explain the indifference principle, commonly used to build balanced strategies.

It is worth noting that whenever the author gives an optimal solution, it is always followed by a discussion of the exploitive adjustments one can make and often the author speaks in depth of the possible strategies, counter-strategies and sometimes counter- counter-strategies that can be implemented in real games.

The Equity Distributions chapter explains range visualisation and hand evaluation. I saw graphs similar to the equity graphs in the book but never could figure out how I could use them practically. Reading this chapter would have saved me a lot of time in the past when I was trying to compare various ranges against each other in the dark in order to devise appropriate strategies only to end up giving up.

The Postflop Concept chapter gives a short introduction to lines that can be taken on a very dry board and a very volatile (understand “wet”) flop. We will have to wait the release of volume 2 to get a more complete discussion of the flop and turn because volume 1 focuses on the river.

The River Play chapter is about 130 pages long and is at the same time interesting and frustrating. In this chapter, the author gives 8 examples, with the SB and BB ranges and a computationally verified Nash Equilibrium for these ranges as well as theoretical concepts for different stack sizes and ranges on the river. Of the whole book, I already know that it is the chapter I will re-read and work on the most in the next few days in order to develop a better intuition of what an optimal, practical NL solution is like on the river.

Unlike what a previous reviewer has said, I find the author’s style as dry and verbose as it can be (FYI, English is my second language) very different from his “forum” style which is also dry but concise. This makes the book somewhat difficult to read: on the one hand, I found myself skipping paragraphs thinking “Yeah, I get it, no need to go on and on” but on the other hand, I had to read other paragraphs several times because I had a hard time linking theory to real hands or ranges. In some way, the book is the complete opposite of another D&B book, Secrets of Short-Handed No limit Hold’em by Danny Ashman, a HU book heavy on hand histories and exploitive plays but light on theory.

Also, unlike MoP, the author is quite light on calculations and algorithms, often giving the end results without giving the intermediate steps; this is a real shame because I suspect the book is potentially even more interesting to poker theorists than it is to HU experts but the author decided to cater to the latter, not so much to the former. This can be explained by a fear that the book doesn’t sell well if it is too heavy on maths - which it is in a frustrating way, as, for example, I have no idea where the equation on page 226 is coming from – then why offer the raise/shove chart for free in the “Extras” section of D&B website? Surely, the author and the editor must have realised that there are some very pragmatic, “hands-on” HU player types who can’t care less about HU theory and only care about the tools that can improve their EV now. I have no doubt that it is a matter of time before this chart is copied everywhere but not releasing the chart for free would have certainly given the book a sale boost (Yes, the chart is worth a lot of money for someone who plays HUSNG for a living).

Despite these flaws, I will be looking forward to volume 2 and what the author has to say on the flop and turn. I would recommend the book to someone who is either interested in poker theory or HUNL, but not as their first book, more like their fourth or fifth one.
The equation on p.226 (not sure if we're on the same page here since I have the Kindle edition) is the result of maximizing the EV(bet B). The author explains how he got there but saved the details which are irrelevant, just basic calculus. (Take the derivative of the EV(bet B) with respect to B, EV'(bet B) and solve EV'(bet B) = 0 for B).

I disagree that the book is dry (unlike MoP which is a great book obviously). The author put a lot of effort into spoon feeding us the theory in the simplest terms. Things get complicated on the River chapter but everything is explained with enough detail for us to work it out. Granted, if you don't have a program to compute the Nash equilibria you can't verify some of the results for yourself but the methods are explained in the earlier chapters.
12-27-2012 , 01:42 PM
Thanks for the clarification erdnase. I'll put the blame on my reading skills. However, I do find MoP to be an easier read than EHUNL. Even your short explanation in mathematical terms is easier to read than the author's explanation in 15+ words in plain English. I guess I read maths better than I read English and am probably part of a very small minority.
12-27-2012 , 10:45 PM
I was hoping this was going to get overlooked.

Clearly one of the great books and available for Kindle from day 1. It will probably force a rewrite of the Janda book.

Only criticism is that it is two volumes. Does anyone know if the authior is a 2+2 member?
12-27-2012 , 11:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by slowjoe
I was hoping this was going to get overlooked.

Clearly one of the great books and available for Kindle from day 1. It will probably force a rewrite of the Janda book.

Only criticism is that it is two volumes. Does anyone know if the authior is a 2+2 member?
Thanks, kind of? :P

I'm the author, and I'm happy to answer any questions that come up.
12-27-2012 , 11:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by slowjoe
It will probably force a rewrite of the Janda book.
12-28-2012 , 12:48 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by slowjoe
It will probably force a rewrite of the Janda book.
No it won't. 2+2 already reviewed this book for possible publication and it's very different from Matt janda's book.

Mason
12-28-2012 , 07:45 AM
Is it recommended, compulsory, or unimportant to read MoP before reading this book?
12-28-2012 , 09:23 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by yaqh
Thanks, kind of? :P

I'm the author, and I'm happy to answer any questions that come up.
Hi Will,

Can you give us an estimate for when the second volume could come out? Just a non-binding rough guess. Does the summer of 2013 sound reasonable?
12-28-2012 , 09:35 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrono.1221
Hi Will,

Can you give us an estimate for when the second volume could come out? Just a non-binding rough guess. Does the summer of 2013 sound reasonable?
That's possible. It almost certainly won't be before the summer, and I imagine somewhat later in the year is more likely.
12-28-2012 , 09:42 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TensRUs
Is it recommended, compulsory, or unimportant to read MoP before reading this book?
Absolutely unimportant. The book doesn't assume any knowledge of poker theory and spends a lot of time on the basics. I can see how your question might come up, though, given the above discussion, so maybe I'll say a bit more about the book's approach.

The book was written for poker players, not mathematicians. This was a fundamental decision about the kind of book I wanted to create, not a marketing ploy. So, whenever I have a choice between finding an answer through logic/intuition or slogging through the algebra, I go with the logic. There is plenty of math in the book, and all the information necessary to repeat every single calculation for yourself is included -- I just don't subject readers to the algebra over and over again every time I want to look at a slightly different spot. I think this approach is easier to understand for most people, and, more importantly, the focus on logic and building intuition leads to knowledge which is easier to apply at the tables. I'm sorry that donkey111 seems to dislike this approach, and other people already well-versed in poker theory may find it unnecessary, but in fact I've gotten very positive feedback regarding the careful explanation of difficult concepts.

I don't mean to imply that MoP and EHUNL are directly comparable either, because they cover very different material, but I imagine that the vast majority of poker players will find EHUNL a much easier read, and getting through MoP certainly isn't a prerequisite.
12-28-2012 , 08:19 PM
Thanks for the clarification Will. I do find MOP a very difficult read so glad to hear that because it will encourage me to purchase the book.
12-29-2012 , 02:21 AM
Thanks a lot Will. I was reading the intro and you mentioned how your book may not have been possible if it weren't for MoP, and I do have it in my possession but never got around to reading it. Good to know I can continue reading your book without having second doubts about stuff I should read beforehand.
12-29-2012 , 10:41 AM
Ah, gotcha. Yea there's definitely an intellectual debt to Chen/Ankenman that I wanted to acknowledge. Their book was certainly ahead of its time. I mean, the level of understanding of theoretical topics in the community still has a long way to go, but I imagine it'd be far worse if it weren't for MoP.

But yea, if anything, I imagine most people would actually do well to read EHUNL before MoP. I know a lot of players struggle with MoP, and I think they'd have an easier time after seeing some of the ideas introduced more gently and in a way that stresses how they fit into at-the-tables decision-making. Other people might have a better perspective on this, though, and if so, I'd be interested to hear it...
12-29-2012 , 03:13 PM
Looking forward to the book. What are the author's screen names?
12-29-2012 , 03:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by glenrice1
Looking forward to the book. What are the author's screen names?
Spoiler:
12-29-2012 , 07:45 PM
Is this book for HUNL or HUSNG? Seems the author is playing HUSNG but the title doesn't suggest anything
12-29-2012 , 09:19 PM
Yes, my background is in HUSNGs. That said, the idea of the book is not to give you a strategy to play but rather to give you the tools and thought processes to strategize on your own. Because of that, little-to-nothing in the book is HUSNG-specific, and moreover, I believe there's plenty of value here for any NLHE player and certainly any heads-up player.
12-30-2012 , 05:21 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by yaqh
Yes, my background is in HUSNGs. That said, the idea of the book is not to give you a strategy to play but rather to give you the tools and thought processes to strategize on your own. Because of that, little-to-nothing in the book is HUSNG-specific, and moreover, I believe there's plenty of value here for any NLHE player and certainly any heads-up player.
Well that's good to hear as I play exclusively 6 max and Ive already got it on order I guessed from the chapter contents that most concepts will apply to NL in general such as barreling etc, so its a no-brainer buy imo, even before Ive read it!!
12-30-2012 , 07:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by yaqh
Yes, my background is in HUSNGs. That said, the idea of the book is not to give you a strategy to play but rather to give you the tools and thought processes to strategize on your own. Because of that, little-to-nothing in the book is HUSNG-specific, and moreover, I believe there's plenty of value here for any NLHE player and certainly any heads-up player.
Ty.
Seems pretty interesting, I'm gonna buy it for sure...
12-30-2012 , 10:00 AM
Cool, I'd definitely be interested to hear what players from different backgrounds think, so if you get a chance after reading, stop back in this thread.

And feel free to shoot me any questions or comments that come up (this goes for everyone).
12-31-2012 , 01:19 AM
I'm a fullring regular but purchased the book. I really like it and wished i would have played more heads up earlier in my poker career. I love fullring but this book makes me want to dabble in more heads up. Even to start a table this book has helped out. Thanks
01-01-2013 , 01:12 PM
Since it doesn't look like the two threads on EHUNL are going to get merged, and this thread seems to be the one that's going to persist, I wanted to save the two reviews posted in the other. I really appreciate the feedback, and it'd be a shame if it got lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Swaggot
I’ve read up to the River section (which I’m anticipating will be awesome).

It's a phenomenal book. The author does a great job inferring larger concepts from the approximate games he studies. And he always has an eye toward explaining how his inferences can be used in practice. He even shows how some of the generic advice I’ve read in e-books (specifically the chapter on barreling in some of Tri’s work, and others) could lead to severely unbalanced play if it’s followed unthinkingly.

If you’ve never done any work away from the tables studying ranges/trying to solve problems then you can’t appreciate how elegant his methods and examples are.

His tone is not dry as you might expect, but nearly conversational, despite the book being highly theoretical (there are even some LOL spots). The writing is very good overall with only a few sentences I noticed that could have been worded better or were a little awkward. But that’s nit-picking given the size of the book and the complexity of its topics.

I would recommend it for any non-beginner. Even for someone who would never be interested in better understanding game theory. The chapters on Equity Distribution and Postflop Concepts would benefit anyone seeking to improve their postflop thinking. Several your-head-will-explode moments.

In Foucault’s review of MOP, he wrote that he felt that book lacked examples and explanations of how the inferences from its toy games could be applied to situations in NL (i.e. he felt it left the reader wanting more). This book fills that gap and is no doubt going to be worth countless rereads. I would rank it with The Theory of Poker/MOP as the kind of book that could still be useful in 100 years.

Couldn’t recommend this book more to anyone who’s serious about understanding HUNL at a very high level. But they should keep in mind Thoreau’s saying: Books should be read as deliberately as they were written.
Quote:
Originally Posted by erdnase17
I'm halfway through the book now and I only have good things to say about the book. If you are interested in HU NLHE be it Cash or SNGs and you are willing to put some work away from the tables this book is excellent. It will give you the tools to properly calculate EV, solve games (push/fold, raise/3bshove and others you may find interesting), calculate maximally exploitative strategies, analyze distributions and a lot more. Plus the author is an extremely helpful and generous guy.
01-07-2013 , 09:49 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Donkey111
Thanks for the clarification erdnase. I'll put the blame on my reading skills. However, I do find MoP to be an easier read than EHUNL. Even your short explanation in mathematical terms is easier to read than the author's explanation in 15+ words in plain English. I guess I read maths better than I read English and am probably part of a very small minority.
FWIW, the book gives pretty much exactly the same explanation in mathematical terms directly above that equation, so maybe you just missed it?
01-07-2013 , 11:02 AM
I am at page 156 atm and I have to say that this book is incredible. Instant accessible and the examples chosen are valuable for ST. At least for me. I always visualized how exactly my default and adaptive strats/methods of figuring out/thinking was before starting new chapter which allowed to quickly identify regions of improvements.
Consider me on the pre-order list for the 2nd book.

A question, you stated you used custom made SW to aid you with your math. You also pointed that there exists commercial SW.

Do you want to share which commercial SW/programming language you used to program your recursive algorithms? Maybe you want to share some pointers, pitt-falls you experienced there?

Because the way you set up your EV math/approach makes the algorithm development low imo.
Also because I was already thinking into writing my own SW/applications because the commercial SW I use is starting to grab too much time of me and once programmed the setting up of the recursive algorithms is significant more time efficient.

m