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Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1: Strategic Play Review

Discussion in 'Poker Gear Reviews' started by jbones, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. jbones

    jbones Faux Clay Nation

    Dec 12, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Dunes Castle
    Title: Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1: Strategic Play
    Author(s): Dan Harrington, Bill Robertie
    Publisher: Two Plus Two Publishing
    Retailers: Most major retail/ online book stores, anywhere poker books are sold
    Average Price: Retail 29.95, Online available for less than $23 shipped (amazon.com)

    This is the first installment of “Action” Dan Harrington’s three-volume series about tournament poker. Published only two years ago (2004), none of the information is outdated at all and the book discusses online poker tournaments in equally as many examples as live brick and mortar games. Specifically, many of the examples use online sit and go tournaments for the example “problems” and the information about them is all very accurate. These books are generally considered to be the most respected and esteemed books on tournament poker strategy, for good reason. ​
    Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1 is, as stated above, generally accepted as the best book to read if you want to succeed at tournament poker. It outlines basic strategy in a simple to understand but not at all “dumbed-down” format. I personally knew nothing about tournament poker and very little about Hold ‘em in general when I picked up the first two books in Dan’s series. They have quickly and easily transformed me into a winning sit and go tournament player. Harrington also presents a smooth book that flows well, and manages to maintain interest in the Problems section, which can definitely be a somewhat daunting task. Compared to other poker books, Harrington on Hold 'em Volume 1 is not at all cluttered or slowed down with information you wouldn’t use at the poker table. If you’re looking for Dan’s autobiography, this isn’t at all what you want. If you want straight facts and strategy, this book is a must have. Rather than pointless anecdotes, the book delivers powerful plays and strategies and then reinforces them in a myriad of different ways. ​
    Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1: Strategic Play contains seven sections, none of which should be skipped. Each section is subdivided into “chapters” in a more traditional sense, and at the end of each section are about 20 pages of what Dan calls Problems. Each Problem reinforces and shows an example of a play or strategy outlined in its subsequent section.​
    The main sections are as follows:

    Part One: The Game of No Limit Hold ‘em
    Part One is great for someone who knows little about Hold ‘em and worth reading even if you’re a seasoned cash game pro. It briefly goes through a hand and covers all of the commonly used poker tournament terminology.​
    Part Two: Playing Styles and Starting Requirements
    Part Two explains what Loose, Tight, Aggressive and Passive mean, obviously immensely important concepts to a poker tournament player. It also gives a preview of some plays like slowplaying and briefly touches upon bluffing. In addition to a guide the different play styles and how to utilize them, Part Two tells how to adjust to other players who may be using these play archetypes themselves. It also briefly touches upon tournament formats, but isn't very extensive about what types of tournaments or what stages of a tournament to switch gears to one style or another. In my eyes, this is HoH 1's only shortcoming.​
    Part Three: Reading the Table
    Part Three mostly applies to live or “brick and mortar” poker tournaments and covers physical reads and tells. However, it also applies to online poker games in that Dan discusses betting patterns and other habits that can be picked up to provide additional information even when playing tournaments online. Equally important, Part Three stresses paying attention to your own table image. ​
    Part Four: Pot Odds and Hand Analysis:
    Part Four is probably the most important of the chapters to a new tournament poker player. It discusses and reviews odds of drawing hands both preflop and on the flop, as well as teaches the reader how to apply these odds and decide how to handle the pot. Even if you already know that you need 5:1 pot odds after the flop to call a bet with a flush draw, this chapter will undoubtedly remind you of many important concepts and should strengthen your game substantially. ​
    Part Five: Betting Before the Flop
    Part Five, although it sounds like it covers a relatively simple content area, is actually one of the most comprehensive sections of the book. It covers so many different situations including number of players, relative skill levels, bubble situations, and many complex plays including my personal favorite, the Squeeze Play. It’s vastly more informative than just a chart listing hands and starting requirements.​
    Part Six: Betting After the Flop
    Like its precursor, Part Six is an extremely comprehensive section. Many cash game players think that all tournament play is about is preflop decisions, and this section will no doubt prove them wrong with ease. It also covers and reinforces pot odds decisions, bubble situations, and tricky plays.​
    Part Seven: Betting on Fourth and Fifth Street
    Part Seven goes heavily into detail about extracting as much money as possible from a given hand. If you are already a successful tournament player but suspect you may have a few leaks in your game, this chapter will definitely help patch some of those up with a quick review. It also touches upon bluffs, scare cards, pot odds, and playing with or against a drawing hand.​
    The book also includes a Conclusion section outlining what a successful tournament poker player needs to understand to make it to the top, as well as an Index.

    Reviewer’s Comments:
    Each chapter and every one of its subsequent problems is absolutely paramount to understanding of (and therefore ability to apply) the concepts this book teaches. None of it should be skipped or even skimmed through. This book is actually informative and smooth enough to read several times and pick up something valuable to your tournament poker game each time and still not get sick of it. It's important to note that Dan advocates a TAG (Tight AGgressive) playstyle throughout his series. Although other play styles have been met with success (like Gus Hansen's looser preflop play, for example) the general consensus among tournament players is that the Tight Aggressive style is the most easy style to pick up from scratch and succeed with. ​
    Strategy Sections:
    As stated previously, this book contains only strategy sections and you will learn something new and important each and every time you open it. Each complicated play Dan presents is something you will actually find a chance to apply at your next home or casino poker tournament. An appreciable amount of the example hands are actually hands from televised poker tournaments that you’ve probably already seen, and it helps immensely to be able to actually get in the heads of the players of those hands and see what they were thinking and evaluate all the factors they considered during the hand. Watching hands on ESPN’s World Series of Poker and then later attaining a deeper understanding of those hands helped my game so much I can’t explain it. This book has 375 pages of content, and 375 pages of solid, valuable information that you simply can’t succeed in tournament poker without.​
    I would highly recommend this book to any tournament poker player who has somehow lasted this long without reading it. I’d likewise recommend it to any cash game player, successful or not, because I am that confident it improves poker play just by forcing the reader to consider so many factors during a hand or tournament that may not have been considered before. Harrington's tournament trilogy (Volume 1: Strategic Play, Volume 2: The Endgame, and Volume 3: The Workbook) is hands down the most influential and valuable poker resource on the market. Absolutely a must have.​
  2. tikipirate

    tikipirate Faux Clay Nation

    Sep 9, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Re: Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1: Strategic Play

    Harrington On Hold'em: Vol I
    Purchased from: http://www.amazon.com
    Price Paid: $20

    Harrington on Hold'em is a great book for the tournament player, there is no book I would recommend more. Vol. 1 teaches the basics, and covers perhaps the first 60% of a tournament. After reading just Vol. 1 I was shocked at how much better I was playing. If you fool around with Amazon.com you can get them to pair Vol 2 with Vol 1 and save a little bit of coin, get both, you won't be sorry.

    • Essential information for playing and winning tournaments.
    • Explains concepts like pot odds, implied odds, etc as simply as I've ever seen. Also provides short cuts for doing the calculations.
    • Provides problems at the end of each section which teach you how to use the skills discussed in each chapter. If you don't cheat, and look at the answers, you will learn what Harrington is teaching.
    I had only two gripes about the book. Neither should stop you from getting this book. They are minor.
    • Some of Harrington's recommendations for starting hand selection is just too tight (for my style of play). He's a tight player, and advocates it. Not really a con but just keep that in the back of your mind when reading.
    • On the flip side, on several of the problems, he advocates what I consider loose calls with the justification of "If you call this and you are beat, there's nothing you could have done". This is more common in Vol. 2 by it seemed strange to me.
  3. BassVillan

    BassVillan Faux Clay Nation

    Sep 25, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Hawkeye Nation, USA
    Re: Harrington on Hold ‘em Volume 1: Strategic Play

    Harrington on Hold 'em Volume 1: Strategic Play
    Purchased from: eBay - New & used electronics, cars, apparel, collectibles, sporting goods & more at low prices
    Price Paid: 19.99 + 6.00 ship

    This book was a helpful read early on in my hold 'em "career".

    Pros: Very well written and helpful book for beginners.
    • Well organized
    • Simple to read/follow
    • Started with the basics
    • Hand charts showing starting requirements/odds
    Cons: Not many because it was all pretty new to me.
    • Some suggestions I found to be odd or "not my way"...imagine that!
    • A few hand examples/analysis were difficult to follow.

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