by Phil Hellmuth
You know, this book gets a ton of negative press, and yes, it essentially is Poker for Dummies, but I have to say that it is a much better book then most would have you think.
Two years ago, a relative unknown by the name of Greg Raymer was winning the WSOP and ESPN was showing repeat coverage of Chris Moneymaker’s shocking win in 2003. The poker boom was beginning and it bit me hard. I thought this was a neat game, and I wanted to learn to play. I kept hearing about this guy Hellmuth, not only how whiny he was, but also how good he was. Youngest main event winner ever, most WSOP bracelets ever, and I thought, “Hey, maybe I can learn from him…”
So I went to Barnes and Noble and bought “Playing Poker Like the Pros,” and read it, cover to cover. I think this is the book’s ideal purpose. If you’re looking for a book that touches on all forms of poker, and gives you the (very) basics, this is definitely the book for you. It discusses player types (Phil’s animal types are a hoot, yet they’re the basis for PokerTracker ratings everywhere), rules of games, and even gives you a short primer on how to play each game. He recommends VERY tight strategies, which are outstanding, if not boring, especially for beginners, and he somewhat seems to have fun doing it, sprinkling stories from his career throughout.
This book is great if you have a wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, or someone you want to get “into poker,” but can’t seem to break the ice. It’s not a strategy text, it’s not the next great philosophy. It’s just a fun book to learn the basics of the game–it is what it is.