Little Green Book - Phil Gordon

(ISBN: 1416903674)
Price: £7,79, Pages: 320
Rating: 6
Review by TightEnd
Submitted by: snoopy on Wed, 16/05/2007 - 7:04pm
A pre-poker internet multi-millionaire, philanthropist and adventurer, though he'd finished fourth in the 2001 WSOP Main Event, 3rd in the 2002 WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha Event, and won the 2004 Bay 101 Shooting Stars event, most new poker enthusiasts know Phil Gordon as the co-host of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown which is frankly a complete “donkfest” and was barely watchable except for Phil’s acerbic commentary and asides. Phil is a likeable television performer ( and sensibly has now left that particular programme ) and clearly a talented player and both aspects come out in his writing.

This book, fully titled “Phil Gordon’s Little Green Book: Lessons and teachings in No Limit Texas Hold’Em” is one I would recommend to intermediate players mainly.

Phil starts out with "Poker Truths" which even experienced players should know but occasionally forget. An interesting concept I am not sure I agree with as all truths at the poker table can be challenged by situational quirks and player tendencies. The book then in traditional fashion moves on to play pre-flop, and on the flop, turn, and river. He discusses strategies for playing when you flop certain hands and a scare card comes on the turn, and how to get maximum value from big hands on the river. He's got a chapter on tells that is admittedly cribbed from Caro and thus lacks originality albeit it includes personal anecdotes from Phil's playing experience that adds value.

The tournament chapter is a concise reference. It is particularly strong at highlighting the aggressive strategies needed around the bubble and when play moves short-handed. It has comparatively little on short-stack play.

Before wrapping up with some entertaining player profiles, charts, and suggestions for further reading, Phil tackles two particular aspects of the game: maths and psychology. It's easy to understand, and covers many aspects of the game, like figuring out implied odds, courting outs, and understanding the psychology behind playing tight and weak opponents, and making the big lay-down very accessible.

The author affords us a remarkably candid view of the way he plays, and I particularly enjoyed his honest exposition of his being outplayed by Juha Helppi, then an unknown Finnish amateur, on a WPT Aruba final table severla years ago.

In many cases he provides detailed justification for his strategies. Even though this thoroughness fades a bit toward the end of the book, the reader comes to understand the reasons Gordon finds the way he plays to be effective. This not only gives the audience insight into the style of play adopted by the author, but also provides sufficient basis for the readers to make informed decisions as to which tactics will fit in with their own overall game plan.

There are places in the book where Gordon isn't as precise as I'd like, and a few more where the wording puzzled me but these occasions are easy for the reader to overlook, especially when the overall quality of the material is high.

I don't think I'd recommend this as a first book on no-limit hold'em for beginners, but I think it would be an excellent choice as a second book on the game for players with at least some experience. While advanced players will doubtless find much of what the author has to say to be familiar, it's likely that at least a few tactics, ideas, and ways of looking at situations will be novel enough to justify reading this book.
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