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Howard Schwartz

Howard Schwartz, the "librarian for gamblers," was the marketing director for Gambler's Book Club in Las Vegas, a position he held from 1979 to 2010, when he retired. Author of hundreds of articles on gambling, his weekly book reviews appear in numerous publications throughout the gaming industry.

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Both Invigorating Books

17 Aug 2005

By Howard Schwartz

World Series of Poker Champion Doyle Brunson's Online Poker (183 pages, paperbound (with bonus CD) $14.95) and Charlie Shoten's No-Limit Life (117 pages, paperbound, $19.95) are new arrivals in poker literature and both have value for those who are serious about improving their game.

Brunson, whose reputation as a player and author (Super System, Super System 2) was established in the 1970s and which continues today, joins a new wave of authors advising the novice on what to expect in the world of online play; including more than two dozen poker strategies and identifying online "tells." In a dozen concise, but well-illustrated chapters he discusses the impact of televised poker and how online poker now ushers in a new era.

One chapter offers a list of places to play with information on where you may learn to play or discuss the game and the benefits of online learning.

Brunson, ever the teacher, recommends how to download software, fund your account, and how to get a taste by playing small money before advancing to bigger.

The meatiest chapter focuses on the basic rules of play and procedures including how hold 'em, Omaha and seven-stud and other games are played followed by an interesting discussion on why online play is worse than live play.

Eight pages later, Brunson re-focuses with two dozen reasons online poker is better (including the practice factor, more hands per hour, no tipping required, playing for smaller limits).

Brunson advises avoiding doing anything fancy in a game filled with weak players. "Online, you'll find that opponents are treating poker a little more than bingo, paying attention to their own hands mostly and paying attention to you only a little or not at all ... make obvious, strong decisions. Don't try to be too fancy...."

This book might be subtitled Concise Online Poker. Brunson writes to the point -- short sentences, common sense, direct -- with examples and a world of experience to draw from. I highly recommend it to those motivated to try online poker and who have many a question about how to go about it properly.

Charlie Shoten is a positive thinker, an optimist, philosopher, and a solid no-limit player who has found peace within himself and has learned control, self-discipline and the power to focus during long poker sessions, especially those tournaments where many a play may "hit the wall" in regard to mental and physical stamina.

Many a player has gone on tilt or made a mental error because of fatigue. Many players have not yet learned how to deal with bad beats, losses, damage to an ego and self-esteem. They self-destruct for a variety of reasons.

Shoten has come to grips with the key factors. His book is not so much what cards to play and how but dealing with negativity, enhancing self-esteem, establishing "positive persona" at the tables, and learning how to avoid or bounce back from disasters.

This might be called a "mind-clearing" book as it is filled with advice about positive thinking and how to apply the principles at the card table. The book has soul, depth of character. It makes you look at yourself differently, putting poker, survival and quality life in proper perspective. I can't guarantee you'll become an overnight winner after reading the book, but you'll certainly better understand that it takes more than luck and a big stack to win regularly.

Copyright Gambler's Book Shop. All books reviewed in this article are available from Gambler's Book Shop (Gambler's Book Club), located at 630 South 11th Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101 and online at

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