Volume I was reviewed two weeks ago. The first volume was predominantly concerned with preflop and flop strategies for the tight-aggressive player. But as we all know, the game is often not done on the flop and will often include a turn and a river as well. The strategies for these two streets are discussed in the second part of the 'Harrington on Cash Games' series.
The structure of the book
The book starts off with a tight-aggressive approach for the turn and for the river. The author's main focus is on the commitment you create as a result of certain actions on these streets. The motives behind pot control or trying to get the maximum value out of a good hand form the basis of these chapters. In the next chapter, Harrington and Robertie discuss the loose-aggressive style, focussing on all the streets and the advantages and disadvantages of this strategy. The continuation bet with a weak hand, the preflop squeeze play, the kind of board you can bet on and the kind of board you should avoid when bluffing are all discussed in great detail.
As mentioned in part 1 of this review, the book focuses on live poker, and therefore a chapter on 'tells' seems mandatory. The introduction of this chapter is very accurate in that it describes 'tells' as overvalued. The well known poker films often present tells as the most important aspect of the game where every movement of a player gives away important information. The 'oreo cookie' scene from the movie Rounders is probably the most well known. Harrington and Robertie make it clear that tells aren't always equally significant and figuring out the value of a tell can often be bothersome. Some significant tells are discussed, however, as well as ways to avoid giving off tells yourself.
Finally there is a chapter with the illustrious title 'Bankroll Management and Other Topics', in which all side-aspects of regular poker playing are being discussed. The dangers of playing above your bankroll are discussed, and they also present their own bankroll management scheme.
An important piece of this chapter is formed by the parts about online multi-tabling, game selection, paying taxes on your poker winnings and changing from online to live poker. This chapter makes sure that Harrington on Cash Games is a complete book, taking into account all aspects related to the game.
The book finishes with a 30 page interview with Bobby Hoff, a cash game player whose name might not mean that much to most of you, although he has been playing the highest cash games for decades. Hoff could regularly be found at a table with Brunson, Ungar, Reese, and all the other big names that we know from TV. Hoff stayed away from the spotlights and sees the cash tables as his work place. He is only present at the big tournaments to find the busted players and start side games but doesn't play the tournaments himself; the true grinder. This interview is one of the better parts in the book if you don't feel the need for more theory. Although Hoff was already playing poker before most of us were even born, he is open for new things and welcomes the development of poker. He doesn't complain about the online players like many live players do but gives us a very objective analysis of today's poker world.
Title: Harrington on Cash Games Volume II
Authors: Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie
Publisher: Two Plus Two Publishing (2008)
Live versus online
When playing live games you often play so-called deepstack poker where the stacks are a lot larger with respect to the blinds than is often the case in online games. Online, you can take a maximum of 100 big blinds to the table, while in live games you can often bring twice that amount or even more.
These deeper stacks change a lot about the game as the relation between the pot, the blinds and your stack is very different to when you would buy-in with "only" 100 big blinds. In this book Harrington and Robertie go deep into pot control and pot commitment, but taking a more conservative approach. While top pair-top kicker or an overpair is often seen as a monster in online games, you have to be a lot more careful with these hands when playing live with deeper stacks. When reading this book it is important to realise that the book was written with the focus on deeper stacks, and that some hands have to be played differently when playing with smaller stacks.
As a result, you could be under the impression that the two authors are ultra tight players and you might not relate to their strategy very often. But once you fully understand the concepts of pot control and pot commitment, you will see how you would play some streets differently if the stacks weren't as deep. Once you understand the theory you can make the necessary adjustments yourself, which is why this book can also be very helpful for online players.
TAG versus LAG
Harrington has the nickname 'Action Dan', and saying this nickname is meant sarcastically can be seen as an understatement. We don't know much about the playing style of Robertie, but we know that Harrington is always known for taking the more conservative approach. The chapter about playing loose is therefore also quite interesting to read as you see how he describes that style of play and the profitable aspects of playing loose-aggressive. Harrington and Robertie realise that there isn't one correct way of playing poker and clearly describe the advantages and disadvantages of different playing styles, without saying that one style is better than the other.
However, is does become pretty apparent that the two authors don't adopt this style themselves. They have observed players who are known to play loose-aggressive, but they don't seem to be as comfortable discussing it as their own tight-aggressive approach.
Writing style, layout and verdict
This book is, again, filled with fun example-hands from well known cash game shows and, as a result, forms a pleasant exception to other 2+2 books which often just focus purely on theory. The hands are discussed very thoroughly and give room to improve your own insight. The interview with Hoff is a must-read if you want to know more about live-grinding and get a unique insight in the knowledge and experience of a man who has spent the last couple of decades at a poker table.
The style of writing is pretty much the same as in the other books by these two authors and is very pleasant to read. The explain things clearly and thoroughly without making things too complicated for the beginning player, but at the same time keep it interesting for the more advanced player as well. The layout is very traditional and similar to many other 2+2 books, so purely directed at clarifying cash game situations
Harrington on Cash Games volume I and II has turned out to be a master piece and is a must-have for everyone's poker library!