Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Book Review: "The Making of a Poker Player"

The main flaw of "The Making of a Poker Player," by Matt Matros, is that it's written for beginners. It was overhyped as a book focusing on game theory and skill development, but instead all it offers is a narrative of one man's climb up the ladder.

I suppose there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The reader can follow along with Matros as he plays home games while in grad school, visits Atlantic City and eventually finished third place in a World Poker Tour event.

Along the way, Matros explains the rules of hold 'em and passes along antidotes about what it feels like to learn the game, step by step.

I'm sure basic information about how to play pot limit Omaha is useful for some people out there. I'm sure the story of a guy who got lucky in the World Poker Tour is just fascinating for tournament junkies. I'm sure someone out there needs to use the glossary to find out what "no limit" means.

But that ain't me. I feel like the marketing for this book was deceptive, and the strategic content to be severely lacking.

This was billed as a book largely dealing with game theory. Instead, we get one chapter on it. And this chapter isn't even useful. It's 13 pages that mentions some of game theory's fundamentals, but it offers almost no practical information on what should be an important concept. I wrote about this topic a few days ago in this post.

It also really bothered me that the chapter dealing with Internet poker was so bad. This book was only released a month or two ago, and the information sounds like it came from 2002. While the content seems dated, the more severe problem is that it lacks insight. A good poker book for beginners would also offer something for more advanced players.

Furthermore, Matros gets his facts wrong. He says PokerTracker costs $40, but it's been $55 for at least a year now. He makes reference to a program called PokerStat (which I'm not familiar with), without even mentioning Poker Office. He says PokerStars, Party Poker, Ultimate Bet and Paradise Poker make up the "Big Four" poker sites. In reality, PokerRoom, the Prima Network and Pacific Poker are also right up there in terms of size, according to

Early on in the book, Matros spends some time blabbering on about how easy limit poker is compared to no limit hold 'em. I'll say this: I welcome any no limit player at any table I play at stakes up to $15/$30. Limit is harder to play and to learn than no limit, and authors like Ed Miller have made the same claim.

At one point, Matros says he's never seen a tight $3/$6 limit game. That shows how much he knows about online poker, where $3/$6 is a difficult and important stepping stone where many decent players fail.

I'm trying not to be too hard on the book, because it isn't that bad. The writing is somewhat engaging, and the story is mildly interesting. But this is not a book for me or for any poker player I know. It's too much like "Poker for Dummies."

Here's the link to the CardPlayer book review.


At 6:45 PM, Blogger Victor_Enriq said...

Good review!

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