The Book Of Bluffs - Matt Lessinger

(ISBN: 0-446-69562-9)
Price: $13,95, Pages: 229
Rating: 7
Review by TightEnd
Submitted by: snoopy on Wed, 26/07/2006 - 10:14am
I had a bucketload of blonde Poker League Action Points to use and absentmindedly one day thought I would look in the Action Points store. After all, there are only so many 3,548 runner freerolls you can play to use your points up and retain your sanity.
In the store on a whim therefore, I came across this book. I was aware of Lessinger as a writer on CardPlayer but knew little else about him. Indeed this is Lessinger’s first book. I am also a fan of slightly quirky poker books, something a little different from the very familiar mathematics and theory so often found elsewhere. So, 17,000 points later, I was the owner of this book.

Let me say right at the start that in my opinion this book is not aimed at the expert or the pro but at intermediate to strong recreational players. If you happen to be tight by inclination and struggle at times when you are card dead or against tricky opponents then all the better. Reading this book is likely to introduce some new weapons into your arsenal. Furthermore, if like me, at times you feel you bluff a little haphazardly as if on a whim, this will give a lot of structure to the thought processes that should lie behind your decisions through a hand

I would view the book as a companion volume to such well known texts as Caro’s 'Book of Tells' and Lessinger’s fellow CardPlayer columnist Alan Schoonmaker’s 'The Psychology of Poker'. Because in addition to thorough analysis of situations to bluff and the risk-reward of doing so, there is an intense focus on which types of opponents to bluff against and how to put an opponent on a specific hand.

The structure of the book is to work through 49 separate examples of situations and types of bluff, the majority from actual recorded hands in various forms of poker: Omaha, Stud, Limit, Pot Limit and No Limit are all covered. In that structure of using examples throughout, it has similarities with the style and format of Harrington on Hold 'Em 2.

Personally, I found the first 15 or so of these too basic for my needs. For example treating a button steal against two random blind hands as a bluff, whilst clearly accurate, possibly isn’t needed for the type of improving but good level of awareness player this book is aimed at.

Nevertheless, a lot of the case studies are illuminating and each are graded as to a) Degree of difficulty b) Likelihood of success and c) Frequency of use. As the examples progress we move from types of opponents to exploit into representational poker. Particularly interesting are the sections on Online Bluffs & Tells (which, in my opinion, is a comparatively under-researched area) and analysis of failed bluffs and why they had low chances of success.

The final five examples are real eye-openers being 5 WSOP final table bluffs. These are the most thoroughly analysed with compelling interviews with participants such as Chris Moneymaker, Bobby Baldwin, Crandall Addington and Nolan Dalla as Stu Ungar’s biographer. The Ungar bluff in particular is a corker!

Having said that I found parts of the book illuminating, I should point out some downsides. I found it slightly uneven in the editing and structuring. Lessinger jumps from one bluff to another with little coherence or structure. He moves from Limit to No Limit and onto Omaha and then back again in the space of four examples. In addition, the bluffs are presented in terms of a clear results orientation. I would have liked to have seen comparisons of a player’s expectation with a bluff compared to more ABC play in some instances. Yes there is a thrill in seeing an opponent fold what was in all likelihood the better hand but there could have been more discussion on semi bluffing with outs and the variety of ways of playing such hands.

In conclusion, if you are essentially a solid intermediate level player and looking to add some more strings to your poker bow, read this book. I learnt some new tricks that I am currently trying out. For everyone, as an alternative to poker maths and theory, I would recommend getting your head into as much poker psychology as you feel able to.

I give this book 7 Tighty Stars out of 10
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