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Old 05-22-2011, 10:40 AM   #1
Black Arrow
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Intelligent poker Player - Review

This book is an excellent companion volume for Chen & Ankenman’s Math of Poker (MOP), and will give the careful reader a deeper and richer understanding of poker. There is a lot about game theory optimal play and lots of examples about what kinds of hand ranges belong in which betting regions. It is far and away the best book available at balancing your play (and exploiting unbalanced play of villains) and creating unexploitable lines, and it helps that the book is well-written and well-edited.

A lot of his Newall’s strategy is based on information hiding and balancing and he talks a lot about how it is easier to balance your game if you restrict your strategic options. He spends a lot of time reviewing limit holdem plays made by state-of-the-art computer programs and analyzing how the plays by the computer compare with the strategies he has derived based on information hiding and balance. I was surprised by how strongly the computer played some of its weaker hands and how weak some of the hands were that it called down with.

Although other books apply math and theory too, they tend to place more emphasis on experience and pragmatism over theory, and provide more guidelines and rules of thumb about how to play in different situations. Newall’s approach is more weighted more towards math/game theory/scientific research and how they apply to poker. It bridges part of the gap between the toy games covered in MOP and real games.

Most of the examples in the book are from limit holdem. As far as I can tell, most of the concepts would apply to other games as well, but in most cases you would need to work out the implications and specific examples on your own. I would have liked to see some more advice about how applicable some of Newall’s concepts would be to games with other betting structures such as big bet games or split pot games.

Part Two is a review of the principles of finance, game theory, and psychology and composes about a third of the book. It is interesting, but is more abstract and there are few concrete examples.

This book will appeal to academic types or to those who want to devise their own strategies. It will be invaluable to very advanced players who play in tough games and want to be on the cutting edge and develop their own creative and non-exploitable lines.

The book won’t be quite as useful after Black Friday, because there is more of a need for balanced game-theoretically optimal play in high stakes online games than there is in live games.

This is a top-tier book, but I don’t think it will be that popular or useful to the average player. Although there is not a lot of computational math in the book, it does emphasize game theory and logic and that requires careful reading and concentration. There are few easy to follow rules and extrapolating from the principles in the book to other games will require a lot of work.
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:56 PM   #2
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Newall early on makes the point that in order to play exploitive poker its much easier to see spots to exploit once you understand gto poker. They work hand in hand.
Also, just as mop uses simple toy games to breakdown poker to simpler elements, newall uses limit poker,
a simpler form of poker to bring forth concepts that can be implemented in nl etc.
this is a very well written book, and its up there with both mop and top. Its a must read for anyone serious
about their game. Seriously good if you use the info.w
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:48 PM   #3
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

Thanks for your two reviews. Even though the excerpts were disappointing, I feel I can now safely add the book to my "to buy" list.
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:14 PM   #4
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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Thanks for your two reviews. Even though the excerpts were disappointing, I feel I can now safely add the book to my "to buy" list.
+1
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:25 PM   #5
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

What is something you learned from this book that you could see yourself implementing into your game or have already implemented?
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Old 05-31-2011, 05:31 PM   #6
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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What is something you learned from this book that you could see yourself implementing into your game or have already implemented?
This book should help change the way you think and approach the game.
If you are already a true expert player who has read mop ,for example, and taken that information to create a "blueprint" for yourself, then you might not need this book.
other than that, after reading this book, if you are serious,...... then you will probably want to deconstruct your game, as you will be looking at things differently. Thats the best I can give you. Someone else can probably say it better i'm sure.
This book comes from the right perspective. rather than telling you which hands to re-raise with etc. it teaches you how to think about these situations.
I've read many times about how other books teach you how to think about the game. In my opinion, this one really lives up to that statement.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:27 PM   #7
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

Thanks for the response. I was contemplating whether to buy it or not, and your review has helped in my decision. I am wanting a book more advanced like this.
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:28 PM   #8
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

P29:
we play FLT, post blind in CO, all fold to us. book says always raise. for me this seems like we just increase the size of our forced blind which the rest of the players sure would like, if they could they would make our size infinite and just call with all hands that have >50% vs random. thus checking 100% must be a better play than raising 100% given all play GTO. right?
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:55 AM   #9
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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P29:
we play FLT, post blind in CO, all fold to us. book says always raise. for me this seems like we just increase the size of our forced blind which the rest of the players sure would like, if they could they would make our size infinite and just call with all hands that have >50% vs random. thus checking 100% must be a better play than raising 100% given all play GTO. right?
If all other Players play GTO, they dont care what strategy you play. They just defend enough Hands that you cant make an automatic Profit with your play. The strategy that you explained exploits a player that has posted and then raises 100%. But they dont play exploitive strategys.
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:00 AM   #10
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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If all other Players play GTO, they dont care what strategy you play. They just defend enough Hands that you cant make an automatic Profit with your play. The strategy that you explained exploits a player that has posted and then raises 100%. But they dont play exploitive strategys.
if we blind more their EV increases which means it has to come from someone and that someone is us. yes they would play the same but they would have higher EV and our EV would be lower.
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Old 06-02-2011, 12:53 PM   #11
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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if we blind more their EV increases which means it has to come from someone and that someone is us. yes they would play the same but they would have higher EV and our EV would be lower.
Listen, if you want to post your blind in the c/o and not raise then do that.

Last edited by statictheory; 06-02-2011 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:04 AM   #12
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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Listen, if you want to post your blind in the c/o and not raise then do that.
thanks! i dont play a pure strat but i was forced to i would prefer checking over raising. it obviously doesnt make intuitive sense to you, but it makes logical sense to me.
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Old 06-03-2011, 07:41 AM   #13
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

This book isn't for someone who is looking to buy "a book" to improve.

It's more a study guide. The structure closely follows Mathematics of Poker by Chen and Ankenman (with additional material related to psychological biases), but much of the strength and value of this book may well be in references to research publications. One of the criticisms of Mathematics of Poker was that it was inaccessible, and did not address "real games". Newall's book fills much of that gap.

From a game-play POV, I would guess that the reader needs to read carefully about the questions posed (eg: should I be cbetting 100%, and if not, constructing different ranges), since the book isn't algorithmic in a way that provides a cookbook for a turnkey GTO poker game.

Definitely belongs on the second tier of poker books alongside Theory of Poker, but below the current champ, Mathematics of Poker.
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Old 06-03-2011, 12:32 PM   #14
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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This book isn't for someone who is looking to buy "a book" to improve.

It's more a study guide. The structure closely follows Mathematics of Poker by Chen and Ankenman (with additional material related to psychological biases), but much of the strength and value of this book may well be in references to research publications. One of the criticisms of Mathematics of Poker was that it was inaccessible, and did not address "real games". Newall's book fills much of that gap.

From a game-play POV, I would guess that the reader needs to read carefully about the questions posed (eg: should I be cbetting 100%, and if not, constructing different ranges), since the book isn't algorithmic in a way that provides a cookbook for a turnkey GTO poker game.

Definitely belongs on the second tier of poker books alongside Theory of Poker, but below the current champ, Mathematics of Poker.
I would agree for the most part but there are specific recommendations for playing different streets but with no specific hands.
Im reading this book for a second time . All the examples from polaris are really helpful in getting a more concrete idea how to construct your distribution for the different streets etc. Really there is alot of good info in here. you dont see the high limit or heads-up forums talking much about this book, as its really an opportunity for the lay person to get on a much more equal footing with the elite in this game imo,.. and im sure some are not too happy about that.
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Old 07-09-2011, 01:03 PM   #15
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

Does anyone else wish to say anything good or bad about this book?
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Old 07-10-2011, 02:16 PM   #16
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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Does anyone else wish to say anything good or bad about this book?
I'm about a third of the way through the book so far.

I would agree with other posters that it does a very good job of bridging the gap between exploitative books and MOP and also with statictheory that:

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If you are already a true expert player who has read mop ,for example, and taken that information to create a "blueprint" for yourself, then you might not need this book.
There were many points I found myself agreeing with and a lot of stuff I've thought about or wrote about that I haven't seen in print or videos before. An example would be another thing statictheory mentioned, "in order to play exploitive poker its much easier to see spots to exploit once you understand gto poker".

However, there were also things I disagreed with. It's amazing that Dan Harrington's approach of randomizing play wasn't torn to shreds when all of the preceding chapter demonstrated why it was wrong. Instead Dan's given the benefit of the doubt with "deep stack poker raises the possibility of utilizing the other mode of deception".

Also, it may not be necessary to slowplay aces to avoid exploitation from squeeze plays. The original opener can have many strong hands which gives you protection from opponents looking to attack your capped cold-calling range. As well as that, hands like JJ/TT/AQ can often be 4bet in those situations anyway so having the very top of your range isn't a requirement.

I think no limit hold'em isn't the authors strongest game so perhaps he decided to defer to other authors.

For me, there wasn't enough proof or examples of game theory solutions to illustrate the points being made. For example, balancing your checking range by having a check raising range or raising range on the next street has very little benefit for your checking range, at least in the NL situations I've looked at. It might be different in limit games but there wasn't enough evidence given to show it.

This may have been by design since I think the book is aimed at people looking to get started with game theory who may not be comfortable with the mathematics.

At times there are pages of maybe 20 or so hands in a row which I found very tedious to get through but others may prefer. The way the hands are formatted changed as well which was a bit unusual but not a big deal.

I also skipped ahead to the investment section. I'm a trader with Susquehanna (same company Bill Chen works for) and I thought the section was excellent. There are easily hundreds of ways this section could have turned out very badly so I was definitely impressed.

Overall I would recommend this book.
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Old 07-21-2011, 06:37 PM   #17
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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P29:
we play FLT, post blind in CO, all fold to us. book says always raise. for me this seems like we just increase the size of our forced blind which the rest of the players sure would like, if they could they would make our size infinite and just call with all hands that have >50% vs random. thus checking 100% must be a better play than raising 100% given all play GTO. right?
That's a good point that I hadn't thought of. In defence of my original position, I think things are slightly more ambiguous as there are 4 players and not 2. It could be that always raising allows you to form a coalition with the BTN against the other two players. I need to think about it some more though!
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Old 07-22-2011, 12:07 PM   #18
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

In this situation, in the long term, will raising be more profitable than check folding to a raise behind from the button or blinds?
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Old 07-23-2011, 03:20 AM   #19
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

I play LHE, mid-stakes, live, so in many ways this book is directed to me (at least when games get tight and we see more heads up pots).

That said, I think this is the best book about limit hold 'em I have ever seen. It manages to cover game threory optimal play without getting bogged down in the math, and Newall's psychology chapters are excellent as well. I learned a lot from it.
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:56 AM   #20
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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In this situation, in the long term, will raising be more profitable than check folding to a raise behind from the button or blinds?
Hmm, here are all the possible things we can do as the CO with a posted blind and the action folded around to us (in LHE):

(*) Raise some % of our best hands and check all other hands.

I'm not a big fan of this, since it's cheap to raise the range we check will be very weak and transparent for anyone who knows our strategy.

(*) Raise all hands.

This solves the above issue, but comes with its own problems as Roblin pointed out. In the book I suggest using this instead of the above strategy ^^^.

(*) Check all hands.

Keeps your hand disguised without having to overcommit to the pot with your entire range. I'll have to give this some more thought, but my initial feeling was that I don't like this for the same reason I don't open-limp in 6-max. You're giving the two blinds what amounts to a free option. If they have a weak hand then the high pot odds (in the BB's case, infinite odds in an unraised pot), allow them to see the flop cheaply (the SB can call a very wide range getting 5-to-1 assuming the BTN folds). But if they have a strong hand they can always raise. The major reason I open-raise is to prevent, as much as I can, from giving them this free option.

(*) Raise some % of strong hands, while checking a range of weaker hands and slowplays for balance.

Not being 100% happy with the other options I'm left with this strategy by elimination. It raises some new issues: How many and which hands to "slowplay" (I assume some mix of suited hands and big PP)? How many hands to raise initially? Whether to have a limp-reraising strategy in various scenarios (I would probably lrr multiway but not HU)?

====

Personally I wait for my BB in 6-max so I've played this spot relatively rarely in my career.
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Old 07-26-2011, 01:59 AM   #21
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

imo, more u are near the button, more u should be to open raise your post it blind cause u should already open with a wide range anyway.

while lets say u would of post by mistake in UTG, i would never open raise cause my hand range ( posted blind = random) would be tooo small to apply it vs a real UTG hand.
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Old 09-07-2011, 11:57 AM   #22
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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Originally Posted by lawdude View Post
I play LHE, mid-stakes, live, so in many ways this book is directed to me (at least when games get tight and we see more heads up pots).

That said, I think this is the best book about limit hold 'em I have ever seen. It manages to cover game threory optimal play without getting bogged down in the math, and Newall's psychology chapters are excellent as well. I learned a lot from it.
I would like to echo the positive tone of this thread.

There were so many comments to agree with that I decided against quoting any.

However, I just wanted to comment on the bolded remark [my emphasis] because it could mislead.

This is NOT a book about limit hold'em though limit hold'em is used to illustrate its ideas.

If you play limit hold'em and play it well then this book is definitely for you.

For the beginnner/newbie/novice/tyro then this is not your first limit hold'em book. Indeed, it may not even be your second.
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Old 09-07-2011, 04:03 PM   #23
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

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Originally Posted by Al Mirpuri View Post
I would like to echo the positive tone of this thread.

There were so many comments to agree with that I decided against quoting any.

However, I just wanted to comment on the bolded remark [my emphasis] because it could mislead.

This is NOT a book about limit hold'em though limit hold'em is used to illustrate its ideas.

If you play limit hold'em and play it well then this book is definitely for you.

For the beginnner/newbie/novice/tyro then this is not your first limit hold'em book. Indeed, it may not even be your second.
I disagree a tiny bit with you. I think this book should be required reading for anyone new to the game since it deals with the heart of poker; Game theory and Exploitive play and there relationship to each other. It is certainly not above the type of people that are attracted to poker these days, but its especially important for new players in order to start thinking about how to approach poker, and also important for us seasoned players who need to break down and adjust our games.
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Old 09-14-2011, 10:24 AM   #24
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

So this book can be applied to No Limit games then??
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Old 09-17-2011, 11:25 PM   #25
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Re: Intelligent poker Player - Review

Would it make more sense to read this or MoP first? What does this offer that MoP does not?
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