I bought this book several years ago, before the no-limit craze, when pot-limit and no-limit were played in tournaments and in Europe, and limit dominated American poker. At the time, I wasn't sure what to make of it since I had little experience with big-bet poker, so I asked the opinions of a few players I have a lot of respect for. I knew it was good, but I was a bit surprised at the superlatives in their praise.
I've gone back and read bits and pieces many times since then, and longer chunks a few times. It really is excellent. Even with just a few minutes, you can get something from it - inspiration for a new play, quick insight into a new game, etc. There's a good discussion of the differences between pot-limit and no-limit, which is very useful for those with experience at one trying to adapt to the other.
A few of the other reviews are misguided, which prompted me to add my own. The long review criticizing specific advice takes both the situations and recommendations out of context. As another reviewer pointed out, the recommendation to play big hands strong on the flop is in a discussion of pot-limit, not no-limit, where you can't just check to the river and then move in if the pot is still small.
Another criticism was the idea of reraising all-in with a big draw on the flop. Obviously, this is a bad idea as a regular play, but that's not what they are recommending. As an occasional move against certain opponents, this can be a very powerful move. The other player may have been bluffing, and fold quickly. Or, he may have a good hand, like top pair/top kicker, and lay it down. Even if you get called, you still have around a 35% chance to win. And after you show down a drawing hand after moving all-in, you'll get more calls on your big made hands in the future.
Another supposed "criticism" is that the book doesn't cover hold'em exclusively. The recent hold'em craze is relatively new, driven by the WPT on television. Before a couple years ago, even most pro poker players didn't play much no-limit hold'em. Then and now, people play lots of other games. That this book covers many games shouldn't be a surprise: it lists six games on the cover in big print, under "COVERING". The people who keep making these complaints (several criticize Super System 2 for the same thing) must be new to the poker world in the past year or two.
The section on "strip deck poker" that another reviewer complained about as obsolete takes up barely over one page. It just talks very briefly about the rules and what proper strategy would be, and then adds a quick story about a hand. In that page, Reuben even says, "I am glad to say this game is little-played now. It is excellent for cheating, as two players can easily communicate to each other what their hole card is." I thought it was interesting.
Ciaffone is an American with decades of experience playing, teaching, and writing about poker, with a fairly conservative playing style. Reuben is English, where pot-limit is just about the only form played, with a super-aggressive style. Both have impressive poker resumes, and their contrasting playing styles provide useful perspective.cover odds, percentages, or have
This is not a book for beginners. It doesn't charts of what starting hands to play, and doesn't make blanket statements about what to do. It assumes you already play fairly well and are looking to improve to a higher level. It serves that purpose well, and is even interesting reading, with a few jokes thrown in - unfortunately, very rare for a good poker book.