Poker has recently received a tremendous boost in popularity, and a large part of this is the explosion in online poker games, playing poker for real money over the Internet. While the skill and disciplineNick Christenson is widely regarded as one of the best gambling book reviewers publishing today. He is a contributor for Poker Player magazine, and has published in Full-Tilt and Gambling Times. He is also the editor of the very funny 'Casino Death Watch,' which chronicles the comings and goings of casinos in Las Vegas. He is an avid poker and blackjack player. Nick's website is www.jetcafe.org/~npc/ necessary to be a consistent winner online is largely the same as it is in face-to-face poker, there are some significant differences. These are explored in Internet Poker: How to Play and Beat Online Games by Lou Krieger and Kathleen Keller Watterson.
Internet Poker begins with the standard introductory material chronicling the advance of online poker and providing some information describing what this book is all about. The authors then move on to provide an overview of nature of playing poker online, including information on what sites are most popular (at least at the time the book was written), and informing the reader how online poker generally works.
The next section covers poker in general, explaining the basic concepts such as betting, blinds, antes, how the game proceeds, split pots, etc.. The authors then provide about five pages of strategy information on several of the most popular poker games that are played online. Due to their brevity, these descriptions are necessarily incomplete, but they're pretty decent as far as 5 page descriptions go. I especially liked the information on playing 7-stud/8, as this gets across some important concepts in an economy of words. The section concludes with commentary on the play of sample hands from the demo versions of Wilson's "Turbo" poker software, which is provided on an included CDROM. I guess playing on the computer is supposed to be very similar to online play. I'm not sure to what extent this is true.
The subsequent section, titled "The Nitty-Gritty of Playing Online" contains the real meat of the book, in my opinion. It is here that the authors provide us information about how to evaluate various different online casinos and games, selecting a screen name, funding an online account, and similar issues. This information is very good for those who don't have any experience or confidence online, but it's less valuable for those who have played online before.
The final section covers a number of issues, including record keeping, legal issues, and money management. In the chapter titled "Guaranteeing Yourself an Honest Game", Krieger and Watterson discuss the right issues, and on the big topics I think they're absolutely on the right track, but much of the information they provide comes up short in detail. As one example, while I believe the dangers posed by opponent poker players also being computer hackers is minimal, I don't think the authors exploration of this topic does a good job of explaining why this is the case. I know that the average reader of "Internet Poker" doesn't want a detailed exegesis on the nature of Internet security, but I think it would be good if most players were more informed on this topic than they are.
Similarly, on the legal issues, while anything written in a book would be an immediately out-of-date snapshot, some guidance would be useful. As of the time of publication, is it or is it not legal to place a wager over the Internet from a computer in the state of Nevada, for example? Where can I turn for up-to-date information on this topic? There's very little here in the way of useful specifics. Similarly, while the authors rightly emphasize the value of keeping detailed records regarding one's online gambling, it's my opinion that the authors stop short of the mark. For example, while they provide some examples of record keeping in the text, what I would have found most valuable is for them to provide a real example of how they record their session information before, during, and after joining a money table.
Even though the book doesn't go as far as I'd like, the information they do provide seems well-considered. This book is aimed at those readers who are either new to poker altogether and want to play online, or have played in live poker games but are uncomfortable about playing online. I believe Internet Poker will serve these audiences well. For those who have some experience playing poker online, there are a few good tips, but this isn't the book's primary audience. Still, since it's very reasonably priced, there may be enough information included to make the book worthwhile. There's still plenty of room, though, for an advanced book on the topic of Internet poker.
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