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Poker Tournament Strategies
Sylvester Suzuki
Publisher: Two Plus Two Publishing (1998)
Pages: 187
ISBN: 1-880685-19-1
Reviewed: 1/99

Poker tournament strategy has long been one of the most blatant and irritating gaps in the poker literature. While there have been a few recent additions to the shelves, the consensus is that the bible on tournament poker has yet to be written. Poker Tournament Strategies by Sylvester Suzuki (supposedly the pseudonym of a well known tournament player) is the latest book purported to close this gap. Unfortunately, while this book does have some valuable material to contribute, it is not the definitive book on tournament poker we've all been waiting for.

The ten main sections of this book include chapters on both progressive and constant stack rebuy tournaments, tournaments with no rebuys, shootouts and sudden sayonara tournaments, negotiations, special topics, stepping up, and tips for tournament managers. Suzuki also includes a Q/A chapter at the end, a form that will be familiar to anyone who has read other books from Two Plus Two.

One of the most obvious shortcomings of this book is in the amount of material it contains. Of the 170 pages of the main text, about 38 are devoted to white space or chapter titles, 30 are devoted to familiar Two Plus Two Questions and Answers (see below), and to a greater extent than usual this book seems to contain a lot of redundant material. For example, much of the material on the different tournament types is similar. If this material had been organized differently (e.g., by the stage of the tournament), with notes about how the different stages differ between tournament types, my sense is that another 10-20 pages of redundant material could easily be trimmed from the book. So in a field where 170 pages could be considered an epic tome, this book is scarcely more than a pamphlet.

My chief complaints about the content follow directly from this. In a short space, you have to sacrifice either depth or breadth. Suzuki sacrifices depth. Few topics are given more then superficial treatment, and in some cases the treatment serves to obscure rather than illuminate the topic (e.g., the convoluted discussion of why chips change their value in tournaments). While parts of the book are clear, other parts are poorly written. To anyone moderately familiar with tournament poker, there will be little if anything new in this book.

Two additional minor complaints are the comically poor index and the always-bizarre Two Plus Two Questions and Answers section. The index may have been generated by a particularly dumb computer program (it's hard to imagine a human being created the entry "seating chits" with its two sub-entries, "chit" and "chits," all pointing to the same page). The Q/A section may be more a matter of taste - I would strongly prefer quizzes that add to the material in the book, or present novel applications of the material. Bob Ciaffone's books, for example, present thought-provoking quizzes in which there are not always unambiguously right answers. The Two Plus Two model is intended more as a concise (if peculiar) review of the book's material. They apparently feel that by phrasing the reviews as questions and answers, the material will stick better. I don't know if this is the case or not, but they (I use the plural here because it's obvious the author was merely adhering to the Two Plus Two template) do ask the reader to cover up the answers and treat the Q/A format seriously. But the questions read almost as though they were formed by passing the text of the book through a mechanical parsing algorithm. Questions like, "What is sometimes correct strategy late in a tournament?" measure how well you remember the literal text of this book, not how well you know tournament strategy.

In short, Poker Tournament Strategies is a thin and carelessly written book, worth reading only if you really feel the need to cover the tournament poker literature completely.

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