Harrington on Hold em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments, Volume I: Strategic Play By Dan Harrington

Dan Harrington Æ 8 Summary

Poker has taken America by storm. But it s not just any form of poker that has people across the country so excited it s No-Limit Hold Em the main event game. And now thanks to televised tournaments tens of thousands of new players are eager to claim their share of poker glory.

Harrington on Hold Em takes you to the part of the game the cameras ignore the tactics required to get through the hundreds and sometimes thousands of hands you must win to make it to the final table. Harrington s sophisticated and time-tested winning strategies, focusing on what it takes to survive the early and middle stages of a No-Limit Hold Em tournament, are appearing here for the first time in print. These are techniques that top players use again and again to get to make it to final tables around the globe.

Now, learn from one of the world s most successful No-Limit Hold Em players how to vary your style, optimize your betting patterns, analyze hands, respond to a re-raise, play to win the most money possible, react when a bad card hits and much, much more.

Dan Harrington won the gold bracelet and the World Champion title at the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold Em Championship at the 1995 World Series of Poker. And he was the only player to make it to the final table in 2003 (field of 839) and 2004 (field of 2576) considered by cognoscenti to be the greatest accomplishment in WSOP history. In Harrington on Hold Em, Harrington and 2-time World Backgammon Champion Bill Robertie have written the definitive book on No-Limit Hold Em for players who want to win ... and win big.

Harrington on Hold em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments, Volume I: Strategic Play

Five stars for content, three stars for layout and ease of use. The problem pages could be much better laid out, in particular. It's an old book but not that old -- as a classic that people will buy because of the name, it could use a facelift. At the same time, you see why it earned that classic status. He knows what he's talking about. 1880685337 This is probably the best of the poker books I've read lately. It fits my learning style - practical lessons complete with a whole series of hands, played all the way through, at the end of each chapter, explaining thought processes and mistakes along the way. Dan Harrington I think thinks like I do - his style is naturally on the conservative side, which is how I've found I generally play, and he's a very logical player, a former chess and backgammon champion before he became a pro poker player. That makes this a book for the strategic and tactical game player, as opposed to the one I am reading by David Sklanksy, which is full of valuable theory and algorithms, but extremely mathematically-oriented.

Harrington on Hold'em Volume I covers strategic play - a lot of it is the basics that will be covered in any good poker book, like pre-flop and post-flop betting, reading the table, pot odds, continuation and value bets, bluffs and semi-bluffs, etc. But as I said, for me the real meat of the book was the illustrative hands that demonstrated each theory in practice.

Nothing in this book went over my head. It all seems perfectly sensible, even easy to put into practice. If only it were so easy to keep all this stuff in mind when you are actually in a hand!

Keep in mind this book specifically covers NLHE, not any other variety of poker. And it is mostly focused on tournament play, so I guess you'd probably want a more advanced and specialized book for playing ring and cash games. Since I play in a bar poker league, it is very appropriate for my venues, even though I am unlikely to ever see even a satellite tournament for the WSOP.

I'd say this a strong candidate for being a book I might recommend as the first book a starting poker player might want to read. 1880685337 Before starting this book I believed poker is just lucky draws, occasional bluffs and reading the body language of your opponents and while these things happen from time to time, the game has so much more to offer. In Dan's words it's a game of memory, position, calculation, alertness and patience. The book teaches much of the strategic play fundamentals and my game has improved tremendously during the short course of reading it. 1880685337
Well yes, I'm part of the poker craze, and yes I read up on my addiction. If you think poker is another gambling wasteland, then read this book. You'll learn how academic the game really is. Calculating odds, weighing risk vs. reward, and earning as much as possible are some of the topics. Sounds more like a business class than a poker book. If you do play poker, read it! You'll play better in tourney's immediately.

1880685337 I read this book and the other two companion volumes where they came out. It changed the way I played and I credit the read and Terra's of Harrington and immediately qualified to the World Poker Tour (Cyprus 2009). Rereading the books meant my biggest live cash in the World Poker Tour to date: WPT Paris 2011 ... 25th for $24,000. 1880685337

Mandatory read for the aspiring tournament hold'em player

No-limit play is different from limit play; tournament play is different from ring-game play. In tournaments the blinds come marching irrepressibly around, and they get bigger and bigger. In a ring game, they march around but they stay the same size. What this means is that there is a certain urgency in tournament no-limit that doesn't exist in a ring game.

Harrington, one of the top players in the world, and a dead-on scientific and shrewdly psychological player, who is also a master chess player and a world class backgammon player, emphasizes this difference by making this book just volume one of a two-volume set. The second volume is sub-subtitled, The Endgame and focuses on the later stages of tournaments.

How valuable is this book? For the tournament player I would say that there is only one other book that is even in the same league; that's David Sklansky's Tournament Poker for Advanced Players. But this book is better. Harrington's nearly exhaustive approach out-Sklanskys Sklansky. Scores of hands are analyzed in minute detail, the analysis typically covering several pages of text. Harrington begins with a diagram of the table, showing your position and that of the other players seated. He gives the amounts in each player's stack, the size of the blinds, the stage in the tournament (just starting, early, middle) and what kind of tournament it is, major, online, etc. And he identifies conservative and aggressive players.

Next he gives your hand and the action to you. For example, you have TdTh on the button and Player A passes, Player B raises x number of dollars....and now it's up to you. What I love about these illustrative hands is that Harrington gives first an analysis of the factors that a professional player would consider at that point, and then he gives his recommendation: fold, call, raise x number of dollars, etc.; and then he tells what you actually did--which is sometimes or even often, the wrong thing. And then he continues the hand to the flop and often all the way to the river, commending on every action.

How much to bet, Harrington says, can be calculated almost exactly in some cases. If you have top pair and you believe your only opponent is on a draw, you need to bet enough to make it unprofitable for him to call. If it is a turn bet and the pot is $900 and he has a flush draw he has a 9/46 = 19.57% chance of hitting his hand, or about one in five. So you need to bet more than one third of the pot to make it a mistake for him to call. But, as Harrington cautions several times in the book, you do not want to foolishly bet more than is necessary. Going all-in--an irresistible thrill for some tournament players--is silly when you can get the same result by betting a smaller amount.

Another nice point that Harrington makes is that whenever there is a bet and you are trying to figure out what the bettor has and whether you should call or not--always more of an art than a science, which is one of the great things about poker--you should put the probability of a bluff at at least ten percent.

What the reader realizes is that no-limit tournament hold'em poker is a very complex game and that there are almost always many things to consider before making any decision. Sometimes of course the decision is easy. You have the nut flush on an unpaired board at the river and it's bet to you. You raise, of course. But wait a minute! Is there somebody behind you yet to act? Maybe you should just call and try to get an overcall. And, by the way, just how much should you raise? Even if there is nobody else in the pot but you and the bettor, you need to consider just how big a raise he is likely to call. If you bet too much he may not call. If you bet too little you may not get as much out of the hand as you might.

You might say, Whoa, not everybody at the top plays this way. Surely Johnny Chan, for example, in his prime did not stop and figure out every angle before proceeding. He acted and reacted with lightning speed. Yes, but that is only because he had already figured out all the angles, had added them up and totaled them, so to speak as he went along; and when his opponent acted or he saw the next card, he knew exactly what he wanted to do. Instantly, and perhaps somewhat unconsciously.

The natural player as opposed to the scientific player considers the same factors before acting, but he or she may put a different emphasis on certain values. The natural player may value position more than the scientific player (or it could be vice-versa), but regardless both players take into account the very factors that Harrington delineates before acting.

One thing that really made me sit up and notice is that Harrington's theory about profitable player styles includes not only his fairly conservative style, but the aggressive style and the super-aggressive style. His main point is that the more aggressive your style, the more alert, intense and sharp-witted you have to be. Wild players CAN win, but they have got to be able to read both the action and the other players extremely well since they are often walking the razor's edge.

Bottom line: Harrington's mastery of the game and his clear instruction make this a mandatory read for the aspiring tournament hold'em player.

--Dennis Littrell, author of “The World Is Not as We Think It Is”
1880685337 Texas Hold 'Em, the chess game of poker.

I played a lot of poker during my six years in the National Guard. It filled up some of the hurry-up and-wait time.


When I moved to the Lake House, just up the hill from an Indian casino, Doug, one of my new neighbors, suggested we play in a $40 Texas Hold 'Em tournament since the casino was so close.


I didn't make it into the money that night (In each tournament only 8 out of 45 to 50 players get any return on their investment.)


Doug and I went back a number of times over the next few months and I did get into the money now and again, but I decided I'd benefit from a bit of coaching so I bought a book, Dan Harrington's.



It's practical and easy to follow with lots of examples. A good tutor.


The fact that my game hasn't improved is due to my own shortcomings not Dan's. I plan on reading his second volume and soon winning The World Series of Poker. Watch for me on TV.

1880685337 This was a great book to learn about Texas Hold 'em. Harrington really goes into the whole strategy of the game - position, when to bet/raise/fold, how much to bet/raise in certain circumstances and positions. He gives you a few overview/ workbook examples at the end of each chapter so you can practice what he just talked about. Right after I read this I implemented the stuff he talks about into my game and it has worked very well for me; I started to win a lot more than I lost. It still works for me, and it is so simple to remember, once you read it you can easily implement the basics forever. I'm not an everyday, or even monthly hold 'em player, I just play once in a while with friends, and like I said the stuff discussed in this book really works, and well. 1880685337 Very well written and thoughtful book. You can't learn basics of poker from it, but once you know the rules, the book is easy to read and provides a lot of valuable knowledge. Every chapter ends with a few real-life exercises. I understood every chapter very well and I've learned a lot. If you're a beginner, I can guarantee that you'll become a better player after each single chapter of this book. After reading it, I can't imagine playing poker without reading a book like this one. 1880685337 This is the only poker book I read, but it came very highly recommended and it didn't disappoint. It helped me transition from a total newbie to an above average newbie. I especially liked all the example hands in the book - helped a lot! 1880685337

Harrington