Change Your Perspective and Increase Your Profits at Poker . April 2012 . Vol 13 . No. 4

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Change Your Perspective and Increase Your Profits at Poker

By T. Dana Smith (for Howard Schwartz) - Gambler's Book Shop Las Vegas

“The strategic edge in poker is not found in what we cannot control; it’s found in what we can control,” says Owen Gaines in Poker Perspectives (140 pgs, $17.99). In a departure from his popular how-to book, Poker Math That Matters, this time around the author leaves formulas on the felt, instead emphasizing “Bringing the Game into Focus,” the book’s subtitle.

Each short chapter begins with a familiar quotation followed by an essay designed to induce you to think, really think, about your attitudes, desires, hopes and goals in the combat zone. For example, when your pocket aces get cracked by pocket kings (which is likely to happen about 20 percent of the time), you should recognize the beat as something you cannot control and “be mentally or emotionally satisfied with things as they are.”

But poker philosophy is not the only focus of the book. Gaines also covers such topics as whether it is better to play online or live poker. Since both games have distinct advantages, it all depends on your perspective— if “your intention is to make as much money as possible, online poker is the clear choice,” the author says. If you want to gain new insights into some of poker’s more provocative subjects, give this book a shot.

Ed Miller’s How to Read Hands at No-Limit Hold’em (188 pgs, $49.99) is a bird of a different color. No deep psychological reflection on the nature of poker. No magical mystery moves. Just good old-fashioned “here’s how to do it” if you want to win at no-limit hold’em. “This book takes a practical, example-driven approach,” Miller says.  “You’ll work through hands and use a logical, repeatable process to read your opponents’ hands.” Key words: logical and repeatable.

Highly revered as a world-class player and widely accepted as one of poker’s best authors, Miller uses logic and multiple hand examples to their greatest potential to teach useable techniques for winning in no-limit hold’em ring games. After briefly presenting the general styles of three types of opponents (fish, nits and regulars), the book explores the three principles of hand reading: players play the way they do for a reason; very few players bluff at the correct frequency; and information from large bets and calls is more reliable than information from small bets and calls.

The main focus of Miller’s instruction is on determining the hand ranges your opponents might be holding based on their actions and styles. In Exercise 12, for example, “A nit limps in and two players limp behind. The small blind calls, and you check your big blind. The flop comes Jh 6h 5c. You bet the pot and the nit calls. The other players fold. The turn is the Ah. What hands are in your opponent’s range on the turn? Which of these hands were weak fits on the flop and improved to strong fits on the turn?”

In his conclusion, Miller says, “Hand reading is the key to winning at no-limit hold’em. If you can read hands, you can win. If you can’t you’ll struggle.” Why struggle when Miller so clearly gives you the keys to the kingdom? This book is a winner; I guarantee it.

These books are available at Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas. You can order them at or phone the store at 1-800-522-1777 Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. Opened in 1964, GBC is located at 5473 S. Eastern between Tropicana and Russell, just a short drive from the Strip. View the store's complete line of books, CDs, videos and software at the web site.