Sunday, April 13, 2008


I'm halfway through Volume 1 of Dan Harrington's latest book, Harrington on Cash Games, so I thought it would be a good time for a preliminary review.

Dan Harrington is one ofthe great tournament hold'em players of all time. He won the World Series of Poker championship in 1995 and has made the final four not once but twice since then, navigating huge fields to do so. His Harrington on Hold'em series changed the way people think about tournament poker. In fact, a week after I finished them, this happened.

Naturally, I was excited to pick up these volumes, since my no limit hold'em cash game has been a bit lacking compared to no limit tournaments or other forms of poker. While I'd still recommend getting the book, I must say that halfway through I am a bit disappointed.

My main issue is the way Harrington conceptualizes no limit cash game players. He essentially says that everyone at the table should have at least 100 big blinds worth of chips at all times, since anyone can rebuy whenever they want, so there's no reason anyone should have less than this unless they are specifically playing a short stack strategy.
Of course, there are many reasons why someone would have less than this. Unlike Dan Harrington, some people have financial considerations and can't afford to continually rebuy not only when they go broke, but whenever they dip below their starting stack. Others come to play their buy-in and that's it.

Furthermore, in Los Angeles where I play, most of the no limit games I play are capped buy-in, which means that it is mandatory that all players start with around 40 big blinds.

What all this means is that I'm not sure how much the information applies to the non-pro, unless the online no limit game is radically different from the one I play, since I rarely play NL cash games online. While I recognize and appreciate the need for deepstack cash game advice, I'm not sure that deepstack high bankroll pros are the main audience for the book, and if they are, there's no need to waste 50 pages explaining concepts like pot odds, implied odds, calculating outs and bluffs.

I like the way the book is constructed, with detailed hand analysis and problems to check your work, and I still have high hopes for the rest of the Volume and part 2. My only hope is at some point the book addresses the games that have plenty of stack sizes anywhere from less than 10 to greater than 300 which I commonly play in.

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