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Clare Fitzgerald

As Casino City's copy editor, Clare diligently proofs articles, columns and press releases posted on the Casino City family of websites, as well as the entire library of print publications produced by Casino City Press. She has editorial experience in several industries, but gaming is the most fun so far.

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'Advanced Concepts in No-Limit Hold'em' a boon for serious players

22 Dec 2017

By Clare Fitzgerald
No sharks were harmed in the making of this cover.

No sharks were harmed in the making of this cover.

One of the less hyped offerings from D&B Poker this year was Hunter Cichy's Advanced Concepts in No-Limit Hold'em: A Modern Approach to Poker Analysis.

In the absence of advanced poker players on staff, what with former associate editor Dan Podheiser having leveraged his skills into an actual career, the book sat around for a bit before anyone got up the courage to read it (it was published in June. Sorry, D&B). I admit, I was worried that it was mostly going to be pages of impenetrable mathematical formulas—there doesn't seem to be much of a market for mid-level poker books; most books I've seen are either at least somewhat introductory or they're for pros.

Advanced Concepts does have considerably more advanced concepts in it than, for example, Phil Gordon's Little Green Book, which is still my favorite Baby's First Poker Book despite its age, but they are mostly built off of five basic ones that you're probably already familiar with if you're even looking at a book with "advanced" in the title in the first place: pot odds, implied odds, pot equity, fold equity and minimum defense frequency. Cichy explores these concepts in depth, providing a clear breakdown of the math, and highlighting patterns and threads of logic through dozens of examples.

The section of the book dedicated to preflop play isn't the most fun read in the world, but it's clearly laid out and clearly explained. The basis of this section is GTO opening range charts, culled from the software program PokerSnowie, which sounds unoriginal but is actually meticulously curated and organized by play and position. Again, there's plenty of commentary regarding the patterns that pop up, just in case you're not in the mood to memorize every square of almost 80 charts. Cichy also discusses situations in which it's helpful to deviate from the GTO strategy, based on the sort of mistakes your opponents are likely to be making.

The postflop play section is more engaging, walking the reader through the decision-making process for dozens of hands (I assume I’m not the only person who finds hand histories more engaging than charts?). While there's a lot of material here—it's inherently information-dense, so I found myself reading some hands multiple times—the decisions are laid out clearly and logically, building off the ideas explored in the earlier sections.

Like many of D&B's titles, the book comes with QR codes that provide free access to some additional online content—in this case, a free poker training video from Cichy, and a few hours of additional strategy videos at a steep discount. The free video clocks in at an hour long, of which the first several minutes are dedicated to explaining/upselling Cichy's other coaching services. The bulk of the video, however, is hand simulations, illustrating how both live and online players can extract utility from PokerSnowie and providing a taste of how Cichy approaches coaching.

Ultimately, one of the biggest strengths of the book might simply be that it is organized extremely well, making it easy to find the things you want to return to for studying. This may not sound like a big deal if you don't have to reread things as often as I do, but because I am a walking stereotype of being bad at math, I appreciate it when difficult material is laid out in a way that's easy to navigate.

This is an excellent choice for serious or starting-to-get-serious recreational players who have outgrown the basic poker strategy books but don't want to get into the kind of math that uses a lot of Greek letters. I myself am not actually that player yet; I'd say that if you're not actively bored of studying titles like The Myth of Poker Talent, you might want to hold off a bit until you are.
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