Poker Book Report Wars: Arnold Snyder Challenges David Sklansky

Arnold Snyder is not new to gambling, but he is a new writing force in the world of poker. Having recently written a ground breaking tournament poker manual, he has ignited a debate of old school verses new school, aggression versus conceding, and blunt force betting verses the fear of losing. With the publication of The Poker Tournament Formula, Snyder has captured a loyal and expanding audience of strategy-hungry tournament players that contribute to Snyder’s online forum like packs of wolves, frequently taking frisky bites at the old school tournament thinkers.

Collectively, those thinkers are represented (at least ideologically) by David Sklansky the resident professor and writer of Tournament Poker for Advanced Players. This book, now several years since its first publication, and before the boom, put into motion the tight-early and tight-aggressive strategy that simply made common sense of hold’em tournaments. This strategy is guided in nature by the Gap Concept described in Sklansky’s book as “you need a better hand to play against someone who has already opened the betting, than you would need to open yourself”. Even modern superstar writers like Dan Harrington and Phil Gordon use this in their strategies as well, so you know it has to have some merit. As such, it is not unusual to find that squeaky, tight-aggressive player at numerous final tables that has got enough playable cards during the tournament to have survived to the final table.

Survived is the key word here, as he (insert any Sklansky drone) is rarely among the chip leaders. Further, rarely does the player return to a final table, because the basic tight strategy of relying on enough quality hands also has to be fused with having them actually win pots, and hold up throughout the tournament. As Snyder points out with much experience, it is those “quality” hands he gets kicked out of tournaments playing, as opposed to position plays with weak holdings.

Where Snyder feels The Gap is a completely misguided concept is in the smaller buy-in tournaments that many players participate daily, in local casinos, regional events and online poker sites. Snyder feels that this is a lucrative segment, as many players may never have a bankroll big enough for $10,000 and $15,000 entry fees for the WPT and WSOP. However, if you play these smaller tourneys the way Snyder plays them, you will soon enough be able to pay for a $10,000 entry fee!

Snyder breaks these smaller tournaments down, and categorizes them into a skill level based on the chip and blind structure combined with the amount of entries. Depending on the skill level and patience factor of the tournament, your strategy is going to be radically different than anything Sklansky would recommend. The underlining of that strategy is based largely on position play, and pressuring your opponents, who have likely missed the flop as much as you have. This is executed in spite of your hole cards, not because of them. Snyder’s wolves say this strategy works it sheer numbers in large part because of the Sklansky type tournament opponents who know nothing more than to fold out of position or out of flop weakness.

Both writers have forums and both have supporters, and it is interesting to hear some of the challenges put forth from the Snyder Wolves – “specific mistakes in Sklansky’s and Malmuth’s advice”, “I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the “Gap Concept” and why it’s wrong.”, “Waiting for Sklansky to speak”, ” The burden of proof was Sklansky’s, and all he did was add to his errors”, “Sklansky’s “proof” is a perfect example of his incompetence at poker logic” and on and on. This is juicy stuff!

All I can say is, between the two of them, someone has got to know what is going on here! All we want to know is how to win a bloody tournament! It seems to me that elements of both strategies are needed to win tournaments. Take a look at players like Daniel Negreneau, Erick Lindgren, Gus Hansen, Greg Raymer or Gavin Smith. They have often made some amazing lay downs to aggressive opponents, but I more often see them playing stuff like QJos, 57s, KTs and even more rubbish hands to not just one raiser, but two! These guys truly understand, like Arnold Snyder, that if you laid down like Sklansky does, you are just not going to see many final tables. By the way, have you seen David Sklansky at a final table recently?

All of the above tournament players, who are definitely more tuned into Snyder’s slant have won big, and won often. Yes, I want some of that.

Secrets of Sports Betting – The Bookmakers Secrets!

During the 1980’s, I was part of a group, that used computers to win millions in sports wagers from Las Vegas Casinos. This was before personal computers were in everyday use. The invention we not call the internet was years away from having access to handicapping stats and data. We were successful for two reasons. First we were ahead of the odds makers in collecting important information. They were still doing things the old way, and we took advantage of that loophole.

Those days are gone forever. The second key to success, is to understand how the numbers really work.

ODDS DO NOT PREDICT THE WINNER

Think of it this way. “Odds do not predict who will win. They are actually predicting who the public THINKS will win.” Most sports punters, both professional and novice, do not understand the secrets of the bookmakers.

Two-way sports wagers, (meaning two teams with a 50-50 chance of winning with no ties) are posted at odds of 11-10. This means you wager £11 to win £10. Half the punters select team A, and collect their £10 when they win. The other punters choose team B, and lose the contest paying their bookie £11. You would think this gives the house or bookmaker a 4.55% advantage. You would be wrong with this assumption, but do not feel bad, 99.5% of the bettors think like you do.

THE BIG MISCONCEPTION

General thinking goes something like this. The bookmakers, insure themselves a profit only by balancing their books. In other words, they hope to get half the bets on each of the teams, thus they win every time. In reality, they hardly ever balance their books, or even come close. Your may find small local bookmakers, with small bankrolls, try to operate in this manner, but with so many internet shops available, even they can even up lopsided books. Many small bookmakers do not even know the secret. They are like the rest of the cattle and travel along with the herd. The erroneous belief that large sports bookmaking operations need to balance their bets is the big secret in the industry. What they do need to accomplish, is secure plenty of volume on both sides, without actually balancing the books.

THE BOOKMAKER’S SECRET REVEALED

Suppose the bettors in our example game, risked $165,000 to win $150,000 on the favourite. But the public only bet $82,500 on the underdog trying to win $75,000. This looks like a mismatch, with the bookmaker heading for big trouble if the favourite wins. If the dog prevails, the sports book makes a profit of $90,000. He wins $165,000 from the favourite bettors, and pays out $75,000 to the Dog winners. If the Favorite wins, the bookmaker loses $67,500. He will win $82,500 from the underdog backers, but lose $150,000 to the fans who bet the favourite. This results in a loss of $67,500.

Now you may be saying too yourself that math does not make the house a winner. So let us review, when the Underdog wins, the bookmaker wins $82,500 but if the favorite wins, he loses $67,500. Favourites and underdogs usually split the winning equally and each side 50% winning of the time. Half of the time he will lose $67,500, the other half he will win $82,500, so his profit is $15,000 no matter who wins. So in our example, what is the bookmaker really risking? The bookmaker is really risking $67,500 to win $82,500. In simple terms, he is essentially laying $75 to win $100. That means he does not have to even win 50% of the time to break even. The house only needs a 42.9% strike rate, after that, it is all profit.

TAKE DOWN A 33% PROFIT NO MATTER WHO WINS

Give me odds of losing $75 and winning $100 on a 50-50 coin flip wager. I will beat you every time with this huge house advantage. To most fans, the general thinking is the bookmaker needs to balance his books with equal wagers. From my example, you can see this is not true. When you have bettors risking twice as much on the favourite side, you are getting a 33% return on every dollar.

Looking For Gambling Tips and Advice? Try These Starter Strategies

A quick look at the world of gambling tips reveals at least two general categories for guidelines and hints to help you win money online. Long-time writer and casino expert Gayle Mitchell offers a list of single-sentence tips that leave the thinking to the player. This sort of tip is self-explanatory and easy to follow.

For example, Mitchell’s workshops and seminars advise casino players to change $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills into coins, then carry the coins in a bucket so that you can judge your bankroll based on the contents of the bucket. This might be great advice for someone who finds it much too easy to snap that folding money off the roll.

If you’re an online player, there are similar gambling tips, such as setting specific limits for each session at the computer. For example, a player might have 1,000 points or dollars in the account and set a limit of losing 100, or 200. (The idea of when to quit is the subject of numerous articles, seminars and blogs.)

The other category that fits under the gambling tips umbrella would be gambling strategy. This advice may require more than few words to really be useful. But strategy tips are also crucial to success in a live casino or online.

An example: You can’t make a straight in poker without a 5 or a 10. That may seem to be simple enough as it is, but when you are looking at two hole cards and the three-card flop in Hold ‘Em this small tidbit becomes part of your overall strategy. This is also true when you are playing video poker and have to decide which cards to hold onto.

Of course, these two categories may not cover all the descriptions of casino tips, but they should be enough to start any player on the road to a little more success. Any assistance is welcome when you’re trying to win money online, right?

A Few Good Tips

On this subject, thousands of pages have been written, and thousands of words have been spoken. It’s impossible to cover even half of the great gambling tips and casino tips in one sitting. However, we’ll list a few of the best bits of gambling strategy in the interested of getting started.

In the video poker world, Mitchell suggests asking the moneychangers where casino employees play video poker. This could lead you to the best two or three machines in the building. She also urges video-poker enthusiasts to know about full pay and short pay. Full-pay machines offer maximum payback for the type of game – $99 out of each $100 that is bet, for example. Look at the payout tables and see if you are at a full-pay machine (nine coins for a full house and six for a flush.)

In video poker, you can throw away all five cards. Some experts gambling strategy say that a player will, over time, toss out all five cards once in every five or six hands.

Key gambling tips: Among the best bets in any casino, according to Mitchell, are a select number of slots and the full-pay video poker games. The best bet for blackjack is a table where the dealer has to stand on 17. According to this expert, keno, big wheel and double-zero roulette should be at the bottom of everyone’s play list. The bottom line for every player: Be an educated casino visitor. Check out the Frugal Gambling books by Jean Scott.

When it comes to true gambling strategy, the thinking cap has to go one and the player must devote a little more time to each issue. Let’s look at a great example from John Robison about slot play and the issue of playing full coins.

Key gambling tips: Robison and many have asked whether the additional risk of full-coin slots is rewarded with higher payback. Since this guy has a master’s degree in computer science and analysis, his study of more than 1,000 slot machines might be a good indicator of what to expect.

In the interest of keeping things simple for now, here are a few of his recommendations.

o With a straight multiplier machine, you are wasting time if you put more than one coin in at a time. Same goes for bonus multiplier.

o Play full coin on buy-a-pay machines, multi-line and on hybrid machines.

o Play full coin an progressives.

Among gambling tips, dozens of systems have been developed and tried as part of gambling strategy. For instance, the Martingale system included the advice to double the bet after every loss, so that with the first win the player would recover what was lost previously. This could work, but since each gambling event stands alone, it might take a minute or a lifetime to hit that first win.

Of course there are probabilities and expected value and so on, but if your chances are 1 in 10,000, you might have to wager 9,999 times to hit that one win. You may also lose 100,000 times before hitting ten in a row. The best advice among gambling tips would probably be: do what the winners do and hope for the best.

Learn to Play Texas Hold’em Poker

If you want to learn to play Texas Hold’em poker, the best way is to arm yourself with as much knowledge of the game as possible. The best way to do this is to build your own library of the best low limit Texas Hold’em poker strategy books.

Book stores are flooded with poker books these days and I thought it might be a good time to list the three best books available. These books are so good that I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if you read and master what’s in these three poker books, they are likely the only ones that you ever need to read:

1. Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones – Whenever I’m asked what books I would recommend as the first book for a beginner I suggest first reading Winning Low-Limit Hold ‘Em. Jones teaches a conservative style of play which is best for a beginning player. I feel that it is far too easy for players to lose money if they try to play aggressively too early in the learning curve.

2. Small Stakes Hold’em by Ed Miller, Mason Malmuth and David Sklansky – This is the next book that you should read due to the particular style of play taught in this book. The authors address the often overlooked strategies needed for aggressive poker play. Playing correct aggressive poker will put you in the position to maximize winning hands.

3. Hold’em Poker For Advanced Players by David Sklansky – If you find yourself in a low limit Texas Hold’em game with several good players, you will need some new skills in order to win. This book will introduce you to many of the more advanced strategies that separate poor players from good players. You’ll find truckloads of wisdom in here and as you move up the limit ladder, you’ll see how more and more of this book’s strategies apply.

If you are a beginning Texas Hold’em poker player, these three books will become the foundation for winning at Texas Hold’em and give you a big advantage at the poker table over your opponents!