Poker Book Review: Harrington on Hold'em Vol 1: Strategic Play

Dan Harrington certainly has the credentials to write a comprehensive guide to poker tournament play, having won the WSOP Main Event in 1995 and having made back-to-back final tables in 2003 and 2004. However, in his role as an author, Harrington has constructed, along with backgammon champion Bill Robertie, arguably the best series of books ever written on Tournament No-Limit Hold’em.
In ‘Harrington on Hold’em Vol 1′ the book covers the early stages of a poker tournament, and he automatically grabs the readers interest from the start by identifying three different styles of player i.e. conservative, aggressive, and super aggressive, and providing the reader with insightful knowledge on how to understand and manage these different styles of play throughout a tournament.
After some insights on reading players from their betting patterns, Harrington introduces a chapter on pot odds and hand analysis, in which he highlights the calculations performed by poker pros during a hand. He also demonstrates how to factor in various considerations when calculating an opponent’s holding, such as, there’s a 50% chance he’s holding an overpair, 30% chance I’m in a coinflip and so on. In this section, he also introduces “Harrington’s Law of Bluffing,” which assigns a 10% value to an opponent bluffing, every hand.
In the chapter on ‘betting before the flop,’ the Gap Concept, the Sandwich Concept, and the Squeeze play are introduced, while value bets, continuation bets, and probe bets are discussed in his next section on ‘betting on the flop.’
Harrington finishes off this definitive 1st volume by analysing ‘betting after the flop,’ and covers some important ground, including reading board textures, extracting maximum value from your bets and how to play against an opponent who’s on a draw.
In this must have poker book, Harrington not only lays out in plain English many of the hard learned key concepts employed by poker professionals, but he also sets out problems for the reader to solve after each chapter, in order to test and reinforce their understanding of the principles introduced in each segment. A word of caution though, Harrington on Hold’em may be the best series of books written on the subject, but it does require from the reader at least an intermediary knowledge of poker in order to get the maximum benefit from the book.

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