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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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Harrington on Hold 'Em -- Must Reading for No-Limit Tourney Play

10 Dec 2004

By Howard Schwartz
In the past few years, several dozen new-generation poker players have made a name for themselves via books, articles, tournament play and interviews. But one name has stood the test of time for true consistency and peer-group respect. That name is Dan Harrington, the man who in 1995 won the most prestigious tournament of all, Binion's World Series of Poker. He also made it to the final table in the 2003 and 2004 events, an extraordinary feat, considering the size of the field.

Now Harrington has teamed with the highly-respected Bill Robertie, known for his expertise in chess and backgammon (and now poker) with the just-released Harrington on Hold'em -- Volume 1 Strategic Play (381 pages, paperbound, $29.95). His Volume 2, titled Endgame Play, will be ready in early 2005.

This book, the authors emphasize, is not for beginners.It's for the inexperienced or troubled majority who, without guidance and discipline, will fall by the wayside early on.

"My goal is to teach you how to think like a poker player. Anyone can win a pot when he flops a monster. It's how you play when you don't flop one that will decide whether you're a winner or a loser," the introduction emphasizes.

There are seven parts (or chapters) in Harrington's marvelous work, designed to focus on the beginning and middle stages of no-limit tournament play. The book is a vital tutorial involving reshaping and remaking the way you think about the game in regard to other players, bankroll, position and pot odds among other factors.

Written in a non-technical, straightforward style, the book discusses vital areas such as the role luck plays; when to show hands and when not to and why; the various types of tournaments that exist and which are best to play, including multi-table online (small stakes vs. high stakes); which tells are most important; pot odds and hand analysis.

Pertinent sections cover betting before the flop; when is the right time to play more flops with weaker hands; exploiting the "sandwich effect" and the vital, knowing when to go all in before the flop.

The "texture" of the flop (good, bad and dangerous types); knowing the difference between value bets, probe bets and continuation bets get much needed attention as does betting on fourth and fifth street; followed by playing against drawing hands are also important.

Yet the heart of the book (the key to putting it all together) is in the problem-question-answer format, where you are asked have you chosen the correction decision: yes, no and why?

Harrington and Robertie take the poker student under their experienced wings and guide them from the nest toward becominge a successful, consistent predator. Harsh as that may sound, this is what poker is all about--surviving, winning more than losing and building a bigger and better nest to the prizes waiting at the final table.

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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