Chris Moorman could never play another hand of poker in his lifetime and he would still be counted by many as a true legend of the game. And rightly so. The name Moorman is synonymous with poker, as would yours be had you won more than $11 million from online poker tournaments and an additional $4 million in the live arena.
I remember reading Moorman's first blog years ago and then as he achieved his goals of becoming the world's number one ranked online poker tournament player I wondered why someone of his talent had shunned the world of training sites. Surely it was only a matter of time before Moorman created a strategy masterpiece. Turns out that I was correct in my thinking.
When my copy of Moorman's Book of Poker arrived in my sweaty hands, I was buzzing with excitement like a 10-year old boy getting ready to open what he knows is a PlayStation 4 on Christmas Day. Prior to opening the first of 384 pages, I hadn't read anything about the book's contents so I was slightly surprised that the hands discussed in the book are not played by Moorman, but by his co-author Byron Jacobs and Moorman critiques Jacobs' play.
It's not the usual way to do things, but then Moorman isn't your usual poker player is he? Any fears that the different approach created were dispelled as soon as I'd read the first hand example in the book. Sadly, my fears turned to despair and sadness after reading Moorman's analysis of a seemingly simple hand. Why? Because it made me realise how much I still have to learn in poker, despite having played the game for years.
You see, poker is like sex and driving in that everyone thinks that they're fantastic at it, but in reality they are really not. While I've never proclaimed to be a world beater at this crazy game, I do like to think that I know my way around the felt, yet after reading Moorman's critique of Jacobs's play in a relatively straight forward hand it is easy to see why he is king and why I am left picking up the scraps towards the bottom of the food chain.
I'm not going to give any spoilers and go through any of the hands discussed in the book, but what I will say is that it become abundantly clear that Moorman approaches poker like a snooker player does in their match. By this I mean Moorman has a clear plan of what he wants to do preflop, on the flop, turn and river and plans for the many different cards that could appear on these streets and alter the course of the hand like how snooker players are planning for several shots in the future.
Moorman, thanks to his immense experience, accurately puts players on ranges of hands and adapts his strategy to combat those hands. All too often, I would read the hand examples and assign a very polarized range of hands to the villain in the hand, then Moorman comes along and rubbishes my thought process! Sometimes I'd make the same play as Moorman and high-five myself, only to sink back into my chair a few moments later when I discovered that my reason for raising or folding was for completely different reasons to the British legend's. Damn you lack of poker ability!
Another area that stands out is how Moorman is always looking to extract maximum value from every hand that he plays. Where I may raise preflop, continuation bet on the flop then go into check-call mode on the turn and river, Moorman is constantly assessing how his hand and perceived range of hands performs against the range he's put his opponent(s) on. It's not only brute force that Moorman uses to snag that value, there are some hands were there is genuine finesse and flair and sometimes moments of genius.
I'd recommend the book to anyone who has an interest in poker, especially tournament poker. However, while players in micro-stakes and low-stakes game will learn a ton from Moorman's methodical and analytic approach, trying some of the moves in the book simply wouldn't work at these stakes as some rely on your opponent's ability to make a fold, even with a hand such as top pair top kicker, which players at the lower end of the buy-in spectrum think is the nuts!
All in all, Moorman's Book of Poker is a must-have for any poker player's library and I am sure that in time it will be up there with some of the most influential poker strategy books of our time.