Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em

 Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em

excelling cover 725x1024 Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ EmJonathan Little burst onto the poker scene thanks to some early tournament success during the Poker Boom, and quickly became one of online poker’s original prodigies. While many of his contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, Little has adapted and survived for over a decade in the tumultuous world of professional poker. In addition to still being a top tier tournament player, Little is now a top poker strategist/coach, as well as a prolific writer of poker strategy books.

His latest offering, which is his seventh print title published by D&B Publishing, is “Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em.” The book has a retail price of $ 39.95, but you can grab it for just over $ 20 on Amazon.

Despite being his thickest book to date, Excelling offered the two-time World Poker Tour Champion a bit of a writing reprieve, as Little was merely a contributor on this project, responsible for the introduction, Conclusion and two chapters.

D&B does its job well

On top of being lengthy, Excelling is a large book (roughly 10”x7” and over 2 lbs., making it quite a bit larger in dimension and weight than a standard sized poker book, but it’s also one of the better laid out poker books I’ve picked up, a testament to D&B Publishing.

Fortunately, D&B made Excelling very easy to skim through, as each chapter is demarcated by a black page containing an author pic and bio that sets it apart from the content pages.

Each chapter is also thumb-tabbed on the side, giving you a “guide on the side” for easy perusal.

All in all, from a publishing standpoint, Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em is everything I’ve come to expect from a D&B  poker book. It has an easy to read font; it’s well spaced; has a solid cover and binding; and good graphics.

The content at a glance

The book contains contributions from 17 individuals. Some of Excelling’s contributors are veterans of the poker book game, while others are novices when it comes to the printed word.

In all, there are 16 chapters (each chapter is roughly 20-30 pages long, divided into three categories:

  1. Poker Strategy
  2. The Technical Game
  3. The Mental Game

From Chris Moneymaker’s “Lower Buy-In Tournament Strategies,” to Liv Boeree’s and Phil Hellmuth’s “Short Stack Strategies: Old School Versus New School,” to Jared Tendler’s “A Proven Strategy for Eliminating Tilt,” this book has a little something for everyone.

There is also an overview of the evolution of poker strategy since the dawn of the Poker Boom by Poker News’s Chad Holloway, and the book closes with a section on “Great Plays by Great Players” authored by Mike Sexton.

As I already noted, Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em isn’t a thin book. It’s a nearly 500-page tome that covers a wide array of poker topics.

That being said, it doesn’t have to be consumed start to finish, as it doesn’t have an A-Z flow that requires learning concepts in Chapter 1 before moving on to Chapter 2. Excelling is more like a collection of essays, allowing the reader to skip around and read the chapters out of order at his or her leisure.

What you’ll get out of Excelling

Because of the way it’s broken down Excelling is an easy book to plow through despite its heft.

It also provides the reader with plenty of food for thought on a number of different poker topics and concepts, which makes it a great jumping off point for further research or conversations with other players.

Another benefit the collaborative book format has is Excelling will introduce the reader to multiple poker strategists and theoreticians.

Some readers may feel Bernard Lee’s writing style and thought processes speaks to them, while others may prefer the more technical approach of someone like Will Tipton. From there it’s simply a matter of a Google search to find more from each contributor you enjoyed, be it other books, articles, or perhaps video content they created for poker training sites.

Target audience

I was pleasantly surprised by the range of material presented in Excelling, as well as the multiple perspectives offered thanks to having 17 different writers.

In addition to the numerous topics, I found some were aimed at lower limit players while others were more nuanced and clearly written for more experienced players – the chapters penned by Will Tipton, Olivier Busquet, and Alex Fitzgerald come immediately to mind.

Because of this, I think Excelling will appeal to, and benefit, players of all stripes. It may be a little “light” on strategy for semi-professional and professional caliber players, but it’s an enjoyable book nonetheless.

Bottom line: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em is solid book that you’ll likely find yourself revisiting from time to time.

Part Time Poker

Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em

 Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em

excelling cover 725x1024 Book Review: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ EmJonathan Little burst onto the poker scene thanks to some early tournament success during the Poker Boom, and quickly became one of online poker’s original prodigies. While many of his contemporaries have fallen by the wayside, Little has adapted and survived for over a decade in the tumultuous world of professional poker. In addition to still being a top tier tournament player, Little is now a top poker strategist/coach, as well as a prolific writer of poker strategy books.

His latest offering, which is his seventh print title published by D&B Publishing, is “Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em.” The book has a retail price of $ 39.95, but you can grab it for just over $ 20 on Amazon.

Despite being his thickest book to date, Excelling offered the two-time World Poker Tour Champion a bit of a writing reprieve, as Little was merely a contributor on this project, responsible for the introduction, Conclusion and two chapters.

D&B does its job well

On top of being lengthy, Excelling is a large book (roughly 10”x7” and over 2 lbs., making it quite a bit larger in dimension and weight than a standard sized poker book, but it’s also one of the better laid out poker books I’ve picked up, a testament to D&B Publishing.

Fortunately, D&B made Excelling very easy to skim through, as each chapter is demarcated by a black page containing an author pic and bio that sets it apart from the content pages.

Each chapter is also thumb-tabbed on the side, giving you a “guide on the side” for easy perusal.

All in all, from a publishing standpoint, Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em is everything I’ve come to expect from a D&B  poker book. It has an easy to read font; it’s well spaced; has a solid cover and binding; and good graphics.

The content at a glance

The book contains contributions from 17 individuals. Some of Excelling’s contributors are veterans of the poker book game, while others are novices when it comes to the printed word.

In all, there are 16 chapters (each chapter is roughly 20-30 pages long, divided into three categories:

  1. Poker Strategy
  2. The Technical Game
  3. The Mental Game

From Chris Moneymaker’s “Lower Buy-In Tournament Strategies,” to Liv Boeree’s and Phil Hellmuth’s “Short Stack Strategies: Old School Versus New School,” to Jared Tendler’s “A Proven Strategy for Eliminating Tilt,” this book has a little something for everyone.

There is also an overview of the evolution of poker strategy since the dawn of the Poker Boom by Poker News’s Chad Holloway, and the book closes with a section on “Great Plays by Great Players” authored by Mike Sexton.

As I already noted, Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em isn’t a thin book. It’s a nearly 500-page tome that covers a wide array of poker topics.

That being said, it doesn’t have to be consumed start to finish, as it doesn’t have an A-Z flow that requires learning concepts in Chapter 1 before moving on to Chapter 2. Excelling is more like a collection of essays, allowing the reader to skip around and read the chapters out of order at his or her leisure.

What you’ll get out of Excelling

Because of the way it’s broken down Excelling is an easy book to plow through despite its heft.

It also provides the reader with plenty of food for thought on a number of different poker topics and concepts, which makes it a great jumping off point for further research or conversations with other players.

Another benefit the collaborative book format has is Excelling will introduce the reader to multiple poker strategists and theoreticians.

Some readers may feel Bernard Lee’s writing style and thought processes speaks to them, while others may prefer the more technical approach of someone like Will Tipton. From there it’s simply a matter of a Google search to find more from each contributor you enjoyed, be it other books, articles, or perhaps video content they created for poker training sites.

Target audience

I was pleasantly surprised by the range of material presented in Excelling, as well as the multiple perspectives offered thanks to having 17 different writers.

In addition to the numerous topics, I found some were aimed at lower limit players while others were more nuanced and clearly written for more experienced players – the chapters penned by Will Tipton, Olivier Busquet, and Alex Fitzgerald come immediately to mind.

Because of this, I think Excelling will appeal to, and benefit, players of all stripes. It may be a little “light” on strategy for semi-professional and professional caliber players, but it’s an enjoyable book nonetheless.

Bottom line: Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No Limit Hold’ Em is solid book that you’ll likely find yourself revisiting from time to time.

Part Time Poker

Ace-King/All in

 Ace King/All in
As much as I been playing poker online. I see the AK lose more often than not especially when somebody goes all in. So I ask what do you think the best strategy to play when you start with AK and when should you go all in or not?

Cardschat Poker Forums

On Edge-Sorting and Map-Glitching

 On Edge Sorting and Map Glitching

map glitch On Edge Sorting and Map GlitchingAs has been widely reported over the last few days, the latest chapter in the Phil Ivey edge-sorting saga involves a counter-suit by Ivey against the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The original case dates back to April 2014, when the Borgata sued Ivey to reclaim $ 9.6 million after he beat the house in mini-baccarat using a technique known as edge-sorting, and with the assistance of Cheung Yin Sun, the so-called “Queen of Sorts” for her mastery of the technique.

Ivey has already lost a similar lawsuit against Crockfords Casino in London, although that decision is under appeal. In both cases, the casinos claim that Ivey and his accomplice had identified decks of cards with manufacturing flaws in order to pull off their win, but the countersuit alleges that the deck used by the Borgata was within the manufacturer’s cutting tolerances and therefore not technically flawed, and that the Borgata destroyed the decks in question in order to prevent Ivey from proving this.

All of this raises interesting legal, ethical and philosophical questions about what is and isn’t cheating. Such questions come up all the time both in poker, when it comes to angle-shooting, and in professional sports when it comes to things like embellishing fouls or deliberately committing an infraction because the penalty is less serious than the consequences for not doing so. That said, the closest analogy I can think of for this particular case comes neither from poker nor conventional sports, but from the emerging world of eSports.

Two sets of laws

eSports is a very new phenomenon, and as such, is bound to produce a whole bunch of new and unanticipated questions. To some extent, one can expect that real-world notions of sportsmanship will extend into the digital realm, but there are important differences as well.

One such difference is a blurring of the distinctions between the rules of a game and its environment. Physical sports are played according to two sets of rules: those written down on paper which describe the game’s objectives and permitted behaviors, and the laws of physics and human biology. Pushing the boundaries of the latter is important and an implicit part of the game; examples include high-tech exercise equipment and techniques to produce better humans, and engineering efforts to produce better golf balls and clubs. Explicit limitations often have to be imposed – certain drugs outlawed, minimum and maximum dimensions and weights for given pieces of equipment and so on – but it’s expected that players and teams will seek any advantage they can find within those constraints.

When it comes to eSports, however, both sets of rules are determined by the code which is running on the computers in question. Modifying that code to gain an advantage is what’s meant by hacking, and that’s unambiguously cheating… but what happens when one competitor or team discovers a pre-existing glitch in the code which can be used to their advantage? After all, given the complexity of modern computer games, it’s inevitable that players discover features and techniques which weren’t anticipated by the developers of the game. In physical sports, breaking the written rules is cheating, but breaking the laws of physics is simply impossible; when it comes to games – both real-world and digital, it’s a lot more complicated, because the game environment itself is man-made and therefore likely to contain flaws.

Fnatic’s map-glitching scandal

This exact ethical problem came about last year, in the world’s largest Counter-Strike tournament to date at a Swedish eSports event called Dreamhack. Counter-Strike is a team-based, first-person shooter game and has been one of the most popular eSports since eSports became a thing. Because the first-person shooter genre takes a lot of its cues from real-world physics – simulating gravity, acceleration and so forth – players and fans alike naturally have much stronger feelings about how things are “supposed” to work than in more abstract or fantastical eSports, like StarCraft.

What happened at Dreamhack was that Swedish team Fnatic was facing the French team LDLC and not doing very well at first. They were down nine games when suddenly they started winning – ten straight, in fact, to win the series. What they did to accomplish that was to combine a known and accepted (but probably unintended) feature known as “boosting” with a previously unknown-to-others glitch in the specific map the battle was being played on.

Boosting, in a nutshell, involves jumping onto the heads of other players on one’s own team and, from there, to higher points on the map, often places which would otherwise be inaccessible. You know that it’s a glitch because it looks silly, but it’s acceptable because it provides only a modest advantage and actually adds some tactical interest to the game. It’s also justifiable through analogy with the physical world, as suggested by its name; it’s entirely possible for people in the real world to give one another a boost up to otherwise unreachable places, even if it’s not usually done by jumping onto one another’s heads.

The trouble with what Fnatic did, however, was that they had found an unassailable sniping spot with a near perfect view of the entire map, accessible only through boosting and unknown to other teams. Multiplayer maps for modern first-person shooters are scrupulously designed so that there are no such positions of unreasonable advantage, or at least they’re supposed to be. It was the combination of this flaw in the map design and the fact that it was reached by way of an unintended feature which caused the community to cry foul. The match was annulled and originally scheduled to be replayed from scratch, but ultimately, Fnatic themselves threw in the towel and ceded the victory to LDLC.

What does this have to do with Ivey?

Ivey’s case is similar to Fnatic’s because it falls into a gray area in between legally exploitation of a discovered design flaw, and outright cheating.

At one extreme, consider counting cards in blackjack. It might get you thrown out of a casino, but it’s not cheating – legally or, in my opinion, ethically. Furthermore, ruling against card-counting in blackjack would be as philosophically absurd as having a chess tournament in which players are forbidden from thinking more than three moves in advance; the point of a game is to win, so how can you expect players not to play as well as they can? If the house wants to avoid being exploited by card-counting, they can and do simply refuse to serve known card-counters. If they don’t want to do that, then they can offer only multi-deck blackjack. Likewise, if a Counter-Strike map is discovered to contain a conventionally accessible but overly advantageous sniping spot, it can simply be redesigned or retired from competitive play, but you can’t leave it in and ask players not to use it.

At the other extreme is outright card-marking in casino games or hacking in eSports. These are things which everyone rightfully considers to be cheating.

In Fnatic’s case, the problem arose through a combination of factors which were outside of the rules of the game as written: a glitchy but ordinarily inaccessible part of the map, and the unintended but accepted technique of boosting. Similarly, in Ivey’s case, he was able to beat the casinos through a combination of the environmental factor of imperfect card manufacturing, and his unconventional request to rotate certain cards, which the casinos nonetheless decided to allow.

The trouble with “fairness”

I expect that most people feel, intuitively, that both Ivey and Fnatic were behaving unfairly, and don’t get me wrong, I feel the same way. The reason it feels this way is because in both cases, victory came about by means we didn’t previously consider to be “part of the game.” Some of us might be pulling for Ivey a little bit because we like humans more than we like casinos, but if you imagine someone pulling an equivalent trick in a card game with friends, you’d probably disapprove. As such, it seems at first glance that justice has been done in both Fnatic’s case and the first Ivey lawsuit, which he lost.

But the trouble with fairness as a principle on which to base decisions – whether legal or sporting – is that it’s impossible to define precisely. Everyone has a slightly different sense of what it means, both in the real world and in the smaller paradigms of various sports and games.

The fact that Fnatic ended up resigning from the tournament suggests that they ultimately agreed that their actions had been unfair, though whether they thought so at the time or were subsequently convinced by public response is a separate question. Ivey, on the other hand, has readily admitted to the basic facts of his case, but continues to deny adamantly that his actions were unfair or could be considered cheating. That’s unsurprising, given the amount of money on the line, but the judge in the Crockfords suit was in fact convinced that although it could legally be considered cheating, Ivey himself was sincere in his beliefs that he’d done nothing wrong.

However, it doesn’t really matter whether you believe that Ivey is sincere, or think that Fnatic did or didn’t feel they were cheating at the time they exploited the glitch in question. Whatever the reality in these cases, the fact remains that if we’re going on abstract notions of fairness and “spirit of the game,” there will always be potential for a person to be following both their own moral compass and the rules of a game as written, yet end up suffering consequences based on someone else’s notions of fairness. That in itself would conflict with some notions of fairness.

Moreover, appealing to ethical intuition in this way after the fact is a deflection of the responsibility of game designers and developers, casinos, sports leagues, etc. to take measures to ensure the integrity of their games. When the blame and consequences fall on the players exploiting flaws, rather than on the people ultimately responsible for the existence of those flaws, there’s considerably less incentive to take sufficient precautions to avoid such things happening in the future. Again, we can’t expect people not to do whatever they can within the rules to win – what we can expect is a game in which there aren’t easy routes to victory which violate our notions of fairness.

In other words, “don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Alex Weldon (@benefactumgames) is a freelance writer, game designer and semipro poker player from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Part Time Poker

Hit and Run: DFS Under Fire; Aria Poker Room Skimming; PokerStars MegaBonus

 Hit and Run: DFS Under Fire; Aria Poker Room Skimming; PokerStars MegaBonus

PTP Hit and Run1 Hit and Run: DFS Under Fire; Aria Poker Room Skimming; PokerStars MegaBonus
Not one, not two, but three articles appeared questioning three different aspects of DFS. Rumors of Crazy Mike being busto and skimming at Aria poker room. PokerStars brings Spin & Go mindset to deposit bonuses.

Potential s**tstorm brewing at Aria

It’s very early in the process, but one of Las Vegas’s most prestigious poker rooms could have a very serious scandal on its hands, as allegations of tournament toke skimming have come to light.

Aria is widely considered to be one of the best run poker rooms in the country, and if these rumors prove true it would be a shame if the conduct of one or two bad apples were to besmirch Aria’s poker reputation.

Does DFS have an ethics problem?

A lot of DFS watchers have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, and on Wednesday they got pelted by three separate shoes.

The first was PTP’s Alex Weldon examination of the “round-trip” business deals DFS companies are making with investors/advertising outlets.

The second hit came from Legal Sports Report where the lack of regulation is very apparent during the depositing process.

And later in the day LSR posted a second column highlighting the non/slow payments of players by certain DFS sites.

All of this comes while the Nevada Gaming Control Board looks into DFS’s claims that their contests are not gambling.

Quick Hitters

- The honeymoon between the poker community and high stakes regular “Crazy Mike” appears to be over as allegations that Crazy Mike owes seven figures and is busto have surfaced.

- PokerStars using Triple Crown winner Jake Cody and football superstar Neymar Jr. for Lads Night In charity drive.

- In the worst kept secret in gaming, Ladbrokes and Gala announce merger.

- Shakeup on the Massachusetts Gaming Commission as two commissioners announce they are leaving the MGC.

- PokerStars has created a very intriguing promotion dubbed “MegaBonus,” a Spin & Go inspired deposit bonus.

- Yet another rumor, this one seemingly debunked, began on Twitter yesterday when it was being reported ESPN was going to end its deal with the WSOP at the end of the current contract. The WSOP Twitter account refuted this claim.

Part Time Poker



usa poker svenska poker finland poker Deutsch poker spain poker italy poker france poker japan poker greece poker china poker brazil poker denemark poker netherlands poker india poker russia poker korea poker turkey poker
romanian poker bulgarian poker croatian poker czech poker israel   poker norway poker poland poker serbia poker slovakia poker slovenia poker