|Author: Frank Wiese
Publisher: Just Fold Enterprises
Pub. Date: 2009
Book Review: Part 2
Ghastly. But picking on this book’s bad grammar and incoherent organizational structure is akin to shooting fish in a poker-table-shaped barrel. What’s really important is whether or not the strategy offered is good and worth spending money on to obtain. The answer is a resounding “no”. While all opinions are subjective, my subjective opinion is that Wiese doesn’t have a clue, from getting basics of the game wrong to offering supposed insights that are really bankroll-hemorrhaging ploys set on paper. Some examples follow:
From the book’s Page 1, getting off to a rollicking start: “Before any cards are dealt, the forced bets must be paid. These are labeled the big blind and the small blind. The small blind is always half the big blind….”
Wrong. The small blind is not always half the big blind, as illustrated by such common games as $2/5 NL, or $75/150 limit hold’em, wherein the small blind is $50 to the big blind’s $75. In fact, blinds are only used in community-card games; other games use antes instead.
In fact, this author’s failure to fully explain the surroundings is a running theme throughout the book. Let’s check out this wisdom about running pocket kings into pocket aces, from Chapter Twelve, “Just Fold!” After the overly obvious statements of “The reason you would fold a good hand is when you know you are beaten,” and “When you have the second best hand at the table, you are going to lose,” Wiese prints images of K-K next to A-A and states:
“Be aware that you need to fold this hand; its [sic] one of the devices of a good player.” But nowhere is any indication given of how exactly it is you’re supposed to know you’re beaten. No board cards, no stack sizes, no bets… nothing. If you’re dealt K-K in the modern loose/aggressive poker era and you’re not prepared to go to war with that (excepting some obvious giveaway betting from a steady player who might have A-A), you shouldn’t be playing poker. If you get K-K dealt to you, there’s less than a 10% chance you’ll be up against A-A when considering all other players, collectively, at a full 10-player table. The odds are even better for you when shorthanded; you just accept the occasional running into A-A as a cooler and think of it as variance. Besides, even if you’re up against A-A, you might be able to deduce that from betting patterns and tells, or get lucky on the flop. K-K, though, is the second-best starting hand there is. What a player really needs to guard against are coordinated flops that bring all sorts of monster-cracking draws into play – nasty flops like 8d-9d-Jd – or persistence in a hand from a player that shows every sign of having connected hard with a junk flop and is slow-playing two pair or a set. In these cases getting out of the hand or controlling the size of the pot are wiser choices.
Wiese does a wretched job on topics such as bluffing and playing “medium ball”, the latter of which seems to entail lots of checking and calling. One favorite bluffing example is when he advocates the following post-flop bluff from late position with Jh-Qs in a four- or five-way pot. In this example, the flop has come 2h-6h-10h and an early-position player leads out for a small amount. Says Wiese, “This is likely an indication of a weak hand.” And after Wiese presumes that most of the other players will call in this example, he recommends putting in a pot-sized bet here as a bluff… or maybe he did it here once and it somehow worked and so he thinks it was a good play. Let’s state it right here: Putting in a pot-sized bluff in a five-way pot with nothing more than a fourth-best secondary flush draw and a couple of not-very-high overcards is akin to gluing wings on your chips and watching them fly away. The early-position player is probably protecting his hand by putting in a “feeler” bet, meaning he may have a small flush or something like 10s-2s for two pair, and if everyone else is staying in, it means that at least one of them is likely to be slow-playing a monster, a made flush to the Ah or Kh, or a flopped set. Jh-Qs here is about as dead as it gets, and it needs to be tossed into the muck in the face of this much action. Put an airmail stamp on those cards as you fold them if you wish.
I could put in dozens of similar examples, but this is an example of a book best served by a perhaps-falsely-attributed Samuel Johnson quote: “Your manuscript is both good and original. But the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.” Having the ability to publish a book doesn’t mean that actually doing so is a good idea. And under the label of “mercy rule”, I’m not going to publish the names of a couple of other writers who were talked into providing brief strategy pieces for inclusion in this work.
I almost forgot the plagiarism, as in a discussion of tax effects on pp. 213-214 regarding Jerry Yang’s 2007 WSOP win and the prize payments to the final-table players. Roughly a page and a half of the book’s text was stolen directly and without attribution from veteran poker accountant Russell Fox’s taxabletalk.com blog, where it appeared in November of 2008. Yes, plagiarism is theft. But if you’re going to get everything wrong, you may as well forget about the ethics, too. [Note: Fox subsequently served Wiese with a cease-and-desist notice to protect his copyrighted material, but held off on filing a lawsuit due to the lack of sales of the book.
The final third of the book is a listing of tourney results, online rooms, and live-casino offerings. What this has to do with the strategy concept driving the rest of the book is nigh on incomprehensible. Maybe it’s advertorial, and these pages are just paid product placement. They’re eminently skipable at the very least, more “renewable resource” wasted on a lost cause.
Though this review is all about the bad, bad, bad, there was something at which Wiese showed some competence, when he began guerrilla marketing his effort. My personal Facebook page was among those Wiese spammed to promote his book, after contacting me for a “friend” request and emphasizing himself as a Chicago-area poker player. I vowed not to review his book after learning his scheme, though I’ve decided to relent here and bestow upon his book the honor it deserves. We need to understand what makes a bad book bad in order to better appreciate the good. But I didn’t buy this book; I just borrowed it from a friend who received it for free. I wouldn’t spend a plugged nickel on this thing, nor should you.
Live and learn….