Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"Heads-Up No-Limit Hold 'em"

While "Heads-Up No-Limit Hold 'em" by Collin Moshman lays a solid foundation for heads-up play, it feels incomplete. I learned a few new concepts, but I wish some of the chapters had lasted more than a page or two.

One chapter discusses the "Hit-to-Win Style," in which you plan to commit more chips into the pot only if you connect with the flop.

"You should usually avoid such a passive style when facing a single opponent. ... Most flops miss most hands, and those times when you 'hit' a second-best hand can significantly offset your gains when you do connect well," Moshman writes.

He nails a key point of heads-up play, but he doesn't explain the next logical step: If you can't play hit-to-win, what kinds of flops and opponents should you be bluffing? With what frequency? How do you best disguise your play when you do hit?

In another section of the book, Moshman addresses what kind of turn cards are good to fire a second barrel on. If you're bluffing, he recommends giving up more frequently when a rag falls, and continuing to bluff when an overcard hits. If you actually connected with the flop, he suggests the opposite strategy: continue betting for value when a rag turns, but tend to check behind a turn when a dangerous overcard appears. This is a quality section of the book, but it's too limited and general. I would have preferred more hand examples.

This theme runs throughout the course of the book. Other too-short sections talk about exploiting vs. optimal play, adjusting to paired flops, floating and table selection.

Meanwhile, identifying and adjusting to your opponents is ignored for the most part.

The book also falls short in that it's mostly focused on heads-up sit-and-gos rather than cash games. I wish its emphasis on sngs had been more clearly advertised.

However, I liked the hand examples, most of which were taken from Heads-Up Championships of the past featuring big-name players. Also, the advice is generally sound, which is more than I can say about many poker strategy books.

The main difficulty of "Heads-Up No-Limit Hold 'em" is that it's written like the Boy Scout Handbook for heads-up play. It speaks in helpful generalities, but it won't ensure your survival when you're stranded in the wilderness.

For that, you need coaching videos, analysis, discussion and lots of experience.

1 comment:

Countryboy said...

Thanks for the review. I liked Moshman's Sit n Go book and he almost had me convinced to give it a go. I think his book took quite a bit of criticism from Sit n Go regs. - so sounds like his HUHU book might be of a similar ilk...