Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poker Book Review: Tri Nguyen's The Pot Limit Omaha Book: Transitioning from NLHE to PLO

Tri Nguyen's 'The Pot Limit Omaha Book Transitioning from NLHE to PLO'Some of you may recall a post I wrote back in December titled “This Book Might Be Out of Your Range.” In that one I passed along some news regarding a new eBook on no-limit hold’em strategy authored by Cole “CTS” South and Tri “SlowHabit” Nguyen titled Let There Be Range.

I’d heard about it on a podcast, then looked into it a little further, mainly intrigued by the book’s prodigious price tag -- $1,850. I had a little bit of fun in that post regarding the book’s cost, and I concluded with a jokey comment about how the authors could send me a review copy.

I ended up getting a bit of feedback on that one, including eventually hearing from Tri Nguyen who sent me a nice note saying he liked the post. A couple of weeks ago Nguyen got back in touch to let me know he had a new book coming out on pot-limit Omaha, and in fact wanted to know if I’d be interested in reading it and perhaps writing a little something about it. I told him I suspected I might not be squarely within his target audience, but I’d be glad to do so.

If you don’t know Tri Nguyen, he’s been a highly accomplished online player for some time now. He also made a fairly deep run in last summer’s WSOP Main Event (finishing 103rd). There’s a short interview with Nguyen in the latest Card Player magazine (Vol. 22, No. 7 -- the one with Huck Seed on the cover) where one can learn a little bit more about his background going to Berkeley and earning a degree in computer science, then his getting into poker and rapidly moving up stakes.

Nguyen tells me the new book targets PLO50 to PLO600 players, primarily short-handed, with a special focus on trying to help the no-limit hold’em player looking to move over to PLO. The title is The Pot Limit Omaha Book: Transitioning from NLH to PLO, and it is due to be released on April 30th. The price tag on this one is going to be $375, with the preorder price being $275. One can find out more about the book and ordering info over at the Daily Variance website.

On the one hand, I’m not that well-suited to review the book, given that I don’t exactly resemble the player profile of the reader Nguyen has in mind for it. I have played quite a bit of PLO50, but am hardly part of the crowd Nguyen is really addressing, both because of the size of my bankroll and because I’m not really one of those NLHE players looking to make a transition to PLO. On the other hand, I have read quite a few pot-limit Omaha books and have written my share of book reviews, and so can probably say at least a little something worthwhile about Nguyen’s book.

The book is relatively short, but packs a good amount of material in its pages, avoiding the usual filler one often finds in longer poker strategy texts. I’ll be honest -- I wasn’t too crazy about reading it on the computer screen, as I’m one of those who likes to mark up books as I read, especially if I’m going to be reviewing them. (The security software attached to the book prevents printing.) But it wasn’t too arduous to get through that way.

After an introductory section, the book starts with a chapter covering preflop play that discusses starting hands and the games people play before the flop with regard to raising, 3- and 4-betting, and so forth. There’s some good advice here about the assumptions many players have about the significance of preflop raising, as well as a couple of points about the equity of certain starting hand matchups I hadn’t necessarily realized before. There are also some graphs illustrating certain observations that I’ll admit to having passed over since such things tend to hurt my brain.

The next three chapters cover various concepts and common situations one encounters in PLO. While some of what’s covered here I’ve seen discussed elsewhere, there are some ideas and explanations that were new to me. A theme that emerges here is the difference between NLHE and PLO, and one of the things I liked most about the book was the way Nguyen frequently uses analogies from NLHE to explain what’s going on in a given PLO situation. For instance, when explaining the ways a starting hand like Q-T-4-5 can get one into trouble in PLO, Nguyen refers to how A-9-offsuit plays in NLHE to make the point clearer. This frequently employed strategy is handy, I think, and is something that might distinguish his book a bit from other PLO texts.

Subsequent chapters cover flop, turn, and river play, and are filled with a large number of sample hands that apply some of those concepts discussed earlier while introducing new ideas, too. It was during this part of the book that I most consciously felt that I might not be part of the target audience. It’s hard to explain, exactly, but has to do mainly with the way Nguyen talks about hands, which I know would make perfect sense to a certain group of NLHE players but was different from the way I would think and talk about hands. (Am I making sense?)

The overall organization of the book could be better, I think, but in the end one comes away with a fairly coherent approach to PLO that I do think will prove useful to Nguyen’s target audience. Is it worth $375? Hey, my name is “Short-Stacked.” How can I respond to that? I’ll just answer that question as any existentialist would and say it’s up to you.

On a personal note, Nguyen and I ended up exchanging a few emails regarding the book and he struck me as a very friendly, smart dude who genuinely has something to contribute to our pokery knowledge. And I much appreciate his good humor regarding my earlier post, as well as his invitation for me to read the new book.

As I say, if you are interested, check out Nguyen’s site, Daily Variance, for more on the book.

(EDIT [added 5/26/09]: If you are interested in reading more about the book, check out this review from a reader better-equipped than I to judge the book, Foucault.)

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Blogger Justin said...

there's really only one cut and dry qualification you need to give when you are review a book. Are you a winner? at what stake? at what rate? at what game?

you lost me at "I have played quite a bit of PL50" what's quite a bit?

2/03/2010 2:49 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Hey, Justin. Thanks for the feedback, and sorry I lost you.

Trying there simply to point out that I'm at the very low end of the target audience for this book, since I have played PL50 online. As I make clear elsewhere on the blog, I'm a part-time "recreational" player, and so by "quite a bit" I mean I've played enough PLO50 to have a sense of how the game is played at those stakes (not claiming more than that). As I also say elsewhere on the blog, I'm a modest winner at PLO25. Perhaps not the ideal resume, then, for reviewing this particular book.

2/03/2010 3:04 PM  

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