Super System: A course in Power Poker

The Poker BookstoreSuper System: A course in Power Poker

Latest Review Author: Doyle Brunson
Publisher: Cardoza Publishing
Pages: 605
Pub. Date: 2002 (3rd Edition)
Price: $19.77

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Book Review: Part 1

If you’re a poker player looking to get serious about the game, there’s no better printed building block than Doyle Brunson’s Super/System, perhaps the most important poker strategy book ever written. It’s an educational tool for all players, novice to expert, and is among poker’s most essential reads.

Doyle Brunson’s status within the poker world would be legendary even without his contribution of Super/System to the scene, but this book, three decades after its publication, remains among the most important strategy books one can own. Super/System stands as a timeless introduction to several forms of poker, with the lessons inside applicable to the game as a whole. Before the arrival of Super/System, which was originally titled How I Made Over $1,000,000 Playing Poker, the books teaching the finer points of the game were sparse, poorly written, and often inaccurate. Super/System changed all that, in the process becoming one of the first stepping stones needed for poker to achieve mainstream success.

What Brunson did to create the original Super/System was to assemble a lineup of specialists in the poker variants most popular during the late ‘70s, those years when the book was assembled. The lineup was a strong one, featuring Mike Caro on draw poker, David “Chip” Reese on seven-card stud, lowball specialist Joey Hawthorne on those games, David Sklansky on high/low split games, Bobby Baldwin on limit hold ‘em, and Brunson himself on no-limit hold ‘em, by far the largest single section of the book. Of that lineup, only Joey Hawthorne would fail to leave a lasting imprint on the game, and that only because of his tragic, too-young death from a drug overdose. But each section of Super/System remains among the most vital reads regarding its component game, and a generation of players have improved their games by reading the secrets and strategems within.

The theme throughout Super/System was and is “power poker” – playing aggressively to seize control of pots and hands and force one’s opponents into making mistakes. It was the secret formula Brunson employed during his master of the Texas road games which were his legendary route into high-stakes action, and the method he continued to use when he developed similar mastery over the Vegas scene. No-limit hold ‘em was still a “new” game by Vegas standards when Super/System was assembled, yet Brunson correctly deduced that the game would become the dominant choice on the poker scene. Brunson made his own no-limit hold ‘em section twice as long as any other part of the book, and Brunson’s section alone makes this book eternally well worth its purchase price.

Which isn’t to say that the other sections aren’t good or important. Bobby Baldwin was in the process of winning his no-limit world championship in the same timeframe as this book’s initial release, though his contribution here would be a solid chapter on limit hold’em, at that time perhaps the most popular variant, by table count, played in Casinos. Limit remains a steady offering in live, “brick and mortar” Casinos, and of course its inclusion in H.O.R.S.E. tournament rotations keeps Baldwin’s contribution important and timeless. All of the games taught in Super/System remain in action today, even if many of them are, like limit hold ‘em, most often found online in H.O.R.S.E. or eight-game-mix rotations.

Following introductions from Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, “Amarillo Slim” Preston and Brunson himself, Super/System kicks off with a chapter of general poker knowledge and truisms. A few paragraphs each are devoted to such general topics as paying attention, playing aggressively, playing with honor, staying competitive, managing money, exercising both patience and staying power, and many others.
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