Many of you will know Two Plus Two because of their poker forum where everyone likes to play high stakes poker but where you can also find a lot of discussions about poker.
The forum is part of Two Plus Two Publishing, who have already published over 50 poker/gaming books. In 2007 a new book was added to this collection. It's called
Professional No Limit Hold'em volume I
and is written by Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta and Ed Miller.
So far this is nothing special, as there is an abundance of poker books nowadays, but the fact is that this book has gone over the virtual counter in various online poker shops more often than your average poker book.
Build-up and content of the book
Professional No-Limit Hold'em completely focuses on cash games and is written for players who are pretty familiar with the game. It therefore doesn't mention anything about starting hands and things like c-betting are assumed to be well-known terms.
Something that is mentioned briefly is calculating odds, but only as an introduction for some more heavy material. If the above terms don't mean much to you then this book isn't for you and you are better off with a book that deals with the basics of the game like
Small Stakes Hold'em
by Ed Miller, David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth.
If, on the other hand, you are tired of reading the standard material over and over again without really learning anything new, then this book might be the right choice for you.
Every chapter starts off with the theory and ends with examples where the theory is tested. Something that might stand out to the beginning poker player is that there is often no end to the examples, the result of the hand is not mentioned and the description might stop after discussing pre-flop action or steps to take on the flop. The more advanced player will immediately understand that these results aren't even necessary. Apart from the fact that the authors thought up the examples themselves, and can therefore also make up the result of the hand, poker is not about the result. Of course it is nice to win a hand and avoid a suck-out but for the hand itself this doesn't make a difference. The action you take is either good or not good and by adding a result to the hand you are only encouraging 'result orientated thinking'.
Every chapter ends with a summary of the theory discussed in some practical key sentences. These 'Final Thoughts' are ideal to go over what you read once more and to test yourself if you understood everything that was being said.
The book includes parts on online- as well as live poker and discusses full ring and 6-max games. Heads-Up play is not mentioned in the book, but this is likely to come up in volume II (which the authors are working on at the moment).
The two most important topics that are being discussed in the book are concepts that are indispensable if you wan to become a good poker player. However, they are also concepts that many of the lower stakes players seem to find difficult to understand. The concepts deal with getting the maximum value out of a hand and something called "the commitment threshold". The latter is a concept related to pot control and stresses the importance of not investing too many chips with marginal hands.
If these two concepts don't seem familiar to you and you play most of your hands just to win and not to make the right action then I can strongly recommend this book. An indication of players who aren't too familiar with these concepts is excessive slowplaying of hands. Although you might win the hand most of the time (unless that miraculous 1-outer hits on the river), you end up losing value in many cases. Have you ever posted a hand that you were proud of and somebody commented that you missed out on value and you didn't understand why? Then this book will explain to you in detail where it all went wrong.
The last couple of pages in the book deal with poker rules and poker etiquette. The rules section doesn't include all the standard rules that everyone should know but focuses on difficult and debatable situations. In the poker etiquette section you find a part about the do's and don'ts in poker.
Writing style, layout and verdict
The layout of the book is very unambiguous and the writing style fits perfectly. At all times the authors are very clear about the points they are trying to bring across and the example hands are clearly presented. Don't expect example with famous TV personalities or tournament situations because this is a book aimed at cash game players with hypothetical examples and imaginary situations to clarify the theory.
The book doesn't include pictures or illustrations. The examples are described with the help of tables (players and stack sizes) and cards, which makes it easier to read and understand the situations.
In many ways Professional No Limit Hold'em Volume I makes you think of Harrington on Hold'em, both in terms of layout and writing style. You could see this book as the Harrington on Hold'em for cash games.
This book is indispensable for every player who wants to take his/her game to the next level. By understanding and implementing the concepts described in this book you can grow from a marginal player to a winning player. Definitely recommendable!
Professional No-Limit Hold'em - volume I
Matt Flynn, Sunny Mehta and Ed Miller
Two Plus Two Publishing (2007)