January 08, 2009

Harrington on Cash Games volume 1 & volume 2: review

Since I am taking a break from poker over the (extended) festive break, I thought it would be worth doing a mini review of these full ring cash game books from the micro stakes players perspective.

There has been plenty of reviews written on these, from early 2008, and I don’t want to repeat things. Instead I want to look at the books in the context of the microstakes online full ring game, which is what this site is about.

I bought these books in July 2008 and up to that point I had been a pretty prolific sitngo player without a huge experience of online full ring play.

There is a good introduction on how tournament play is different from cash play, and this essay alone is worth reading for the sitngo and MTT guys who want to get into the game.

Unfortunately the rest of vol 1 doesn’t live up to this good start. As is usual with the “old school” authors, the emphasis is on mid stakes games, and although Harrington states in his examples that the play is online, it certainly doesn’t play out that way. Much more loose passive than you would ever get online. So the worked examples don’t have much relevance in my view.

The 2 big things for microstakes players, especially at full ring, are overvaluing TPTK TPMK and overpairs (JJ-AA in particular) on a low board. Although this is discussed, its not drilled home in a big way, which is the 1st holy grail for the micro players. Understanding when you’re beat is touched on, but equity calculations and implied odds just are not delved into deeply enough, and that’s what you need to know when deciding whether to call the donk’s CRAI with your AK on a f2 flush flop. Are you a coin flip, and is it worth it? Will there be a better spot?

Vol 2 was more about the turn and river play, and for micro players these are, in my opinion slightly more interesting and important topics. But I don’t think Harrington emphasises how important extracting value is (for a micro player) on these streets. Its your bread and butter at the micros, especially the turn.

There is a section in LAG play which is ok, although I didn’t find it particularly like the LAGs you get at the micros, and the bankroll stuff has all been said before, nothing new there. There is also lip service paid to the online microstakes through a section on 25nl, but I couldn't see anything new or particulary insightful.

I like Harrington’s (and the other guy Robertie I guess) writing style and clear structure but all in I think I would rate the books just slightly above average. Worth a read if you are making the transition between tourneys to full ring, and I would read this book before NLHE Theory and Practice by Sklansky and Miller if you are a tourney player. (I do recommend NLHE Theory by the way, but its quite advanced for a new full ring player)

In conclusion then, books ok, just bear in mind there is more to learn on full ring for us micro slummers in the forums.

Rating 5.5/10

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