Book Review: Expert Heads Up NLHE Volume 1

Posted by Steve Ruddock on Dec 03, 2012 Posted in Reviews | No Comments »

The latest addition to the poker library of D&B Poker is Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold’ Em Volume 1: Optimal and Exploitative Strategies, by Will Tipton. Tipton is a relative newcomer on the poker scene, picking-up the game in 2007 while in college and turning the occasional home game into a lucrative career as an online pro, while at the same time working towards a PhD at Cornell University. The fact that Tipton doesn’t have the reputation that precedes other poker authors didn’t stop D&B Editor Byron Jacobs from writing a glowing foreword to the text, explaining how he had a “Susan Boyle moment” after perusing the unsolicited submission from an unknown author –something you rarely see an editor do.

You can read my interview with Will Tipton here: PNB talks Poker with player and author Will Tipton

So, what were my thoughts on Expert heads Up NLHE? While I didn’t have the “Come to Jesus” moment that Jacobs experienced during my reading of the text, I was very impressed with the book and as a relative greenhorn when it comes to Heads Up NLHE I’m pretty much the target audience of the book. I found the text extremely helpful for my game and for my understanding of Heads-Up NLHE; a format that is virtually a blank canvas when it comes to poker literature.

First off, let me start by saying that Tipton is an excellent writer. The book is easy to read, which is a godsend considering the technical nature of the Expert Heads Up NLHE, which will make anyone who has ever tried to plow through a poorly written technical poker book (and there are definitely a few) happy with both the writing and editing of the text.

The book is laid-out nicely, with many chapter and section breaks, as well as key points you should know at the end of each chapter. I found the shorter chapters/sections/headers kept my mind from wandering during the more technical analysis (I should caveat that with the fact that I’m not a math guy!), and the additions of the bulleted sections “Conclusions” and “You Should Know…” prevented me from moving on to the next chapter before I understood the concepts in the previous one. Despite the technical nature of the game, Tipton did a good job keeping the math to a minimum (which is great since I’m not a math guy!) using equations very sparingly.

Volume 1 of Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold’ Em clocks in at an impressive 336 pages, and as usual D&B Publishing produced a quality book that will survive the handful of readings you will need to digest all of the information Tipton imparts. By the end of the book I had put in a dozen placeholders for sections I wanted to reread.

The overarching content of the book is a cross between a typical strategy primer and a course in game theory, written by a very good poker player, a doctoral student in one of those fields you don’t even know exists (he’s a computational materials engineer), and someone who is obviously very intellectually curious with a lot of hours of critical thinking on the game of poker under his belt. In regards to the last point I was pleasantly surprised with was Tipton’s way of looking at a hand of poker as a decision tree – a view I had never considered, but one that made perfect sense after reading through the opening salvo in Expert Heads Up NLHE.

If you are a heads-up NLHE player, or are looking to learn the increasingly popular format than you finally have a book you can turn to. As I said, HUNL is not my forte, but after reading through Expert Heads Up No Limit Hold’ Em I had the poker itch and wanted to go and apply Tipton’s strategies at the poker tables – which I would say is the mark of a truly good poker book.



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