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Little Green Book by Phil Gordon

Phil Gordon is as familiar a face as you'll find in the poker world these days. He has a World Poker Tour win on his resume, in addition to being the resident expert on Celebrity Poker Showdown. His reputation as one of the best teachers of the game should be cemented with his Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em. This manual to the world's favorite poker game is a breezy read with plenty of hidden depth that can satisfy many levels of poker players.

As Howard Lederer and Annie Duke says in its introduction, the Little Green Book is a guide to critical thinking in poker. Phil Gordon's success in poker tournaments has been less about him knowing exactly what to do in every situations than it has been about him having the tools to deduce his best move at any point through a thorough examination. He lays those tools out in very logical order, starting with a section on some basic truths of poker. Ideas like the value of aggression and position make up these pages. There are full sections on play before the flop, after the flop, after the turn, and after the river. Each of these is filled with general tactical advice that rewards the careful reader. Next up are sections on tells and tournament play, followed by psychology and basic poker math and a final section on miscellaneous topics. There is also a section of player profiles, with descriptions of their styles and why they work. Finally, a section of charts and a list of suggested further reading close the book out. Reading the book from front to back doesn't take more than about two hours, but in that relatively short length Gordon manages to discuss nearly every aspect of the game.

While much of Gordon's advice is well-suited to cash game play, the focus of the Little Green Book is no-limit tournaments. In addition to covering the specific tactics he employs on every street, Gordon also discusses plenty of tournament strategy. The portion of the book specific to tournaments isn't as in-depth or math-based as Harrington on Hold'em, but Gordon manages to touch on nearly every aspect of good tournament play over the course of 40 or so pages. In that short section there's plenty of good advice. His material on wielding the big stack, for instance, is well worth memorizing for anyone who has ever blown a big stack through bad play. Also of note is the section on stealing blinds - anyone who has a problem getting aggressive as tournament progress should find themselves cured after reading it.

The conversational style of Gordon's book is its main strength. Reading it is never a chore because the author simply never talks down to his reader. He speaks more like a coach or mentor than the world's greatest professional poker player. In fact, Gordon makes it clear that he doesn't think he's the world's best player - he just knows what has been profitable for him in his career. The style of the book makes for an easy read that can be revisited time and time again by beginners and more seasoned players alike. This "replay value" only makes the Little Green Book better.

If the Little Green Book isn't the best book on no-limit hold'em available today, it's certainly close. It is an excellent source for anyone with a basic knowledge of the game who wants expert insights to improve quickly. Intermediate players who find themselves struggling with making progress should also find the book's concise summaries of no-limit tactical principles very useful. Players who want a more methodical approach to tournament play may be better served by Harrington on Hold'em, with its in-depth explorations of specific situations and methods of hand analysis, though Gordon's book would still make a good companion piece.

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