Swayne's Advanced Degree in Hold'em Paperback – Jul 1 2009
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About the Author
Charley Swayne is a professional teacher who has combined the psychological and mathematical aspects of Texas Hold’em to deliver the most comprehensive book on the market for the serious poker player.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Education only goes so far. Experience is the comb nature gives us when we are bald. Experience is the name we give our mistakes. You need to be a balding mistake maker. With experience you will develop the patience and discipline needed to only play and stay in hands where you have a positive Expected Value.
How do you get experience? Play, play, play. You should play a minimum of 250,000 hands before you consider yourself experienced. All of these hands should be played using computer practice, micro limit, or low limit tables.
Do not play for real money until you are experienced.
Real money is money you care about.
Pre–computer players would play 30—35 hands an hour at a casino or at a home game. In a five–hour night, with no toilet breaks, they could get 150—200 hands played. Over a year they might play a total of 8,000. It would take them 30 years to play 250,000 hands. Sure, some played three times as much and got their experience in only a decade. Those are the ones whose spouses divorced them, so they had the time to play more.
But you have computer software available; both Poker Academy Pro and Wilson Turbo are excellent; they allow you to play several thousand hands a week. You can play several tables on the internet at once. Use a big screen and you can get four tables on one computer screen or you can stack several tables on one screen. Play four speed tables and you can play over 200 hands an hour, well over a 1,000 a day. After a few months you can add another monitor and play eight tables at once. Do the math. It just depends on how much time you want to put in to become experienced. Two years? One? It is up to you. Then, and only then, should you play for real money.
Why play so many hands? So that you gather the full range of experiences. You’ll receive pocket Aces over 1,100 times. You will see some players defy all reason and draw all the way to the river and beat you. But the most important things you will learn are the patience and emotional stability to wait for the right cards and the discipline to make the right decisions on how to play or fold your hand.
Some experts learn superior postflop skills from coaching, seminars, books and experience. Others from experience alone. But the ability to get away from a marginal hand and read an opponent must include experience.
Simple but not easy
Every effort has been made to simplify an extremely complex subject. Some steps have been left in so expert players can follow the logic to see if they agree. Many of the laborious and mathematical formulas, statistical details, and several thousands of pages of data have been omitted. Even though we believe the material is presented in the easiest–to–understand manner, you need to know mastering all of the concepts will not be easy. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
Good or world class
One of the benefits of teaching is helping a student with his/her life’s plan. I don’t know the answers, but I do know the questions. We spend several hours finding out what they are good at and love to do. Where their “good at’s” and “love to’s” converge is their natural strength; why they were put on this earth. Once we discover this intersection, it is surprisingly easy to then choose how they should spend the rest of their life. Many ask about their weaknesses. My advice is always the same. Spend most of your time building on your strengths; do not focus on compensating for weaknesses. This approach works well throughout life as we can always find others or other ways to compensate for our weaknesses.
Why bring this up? Because it doesn’t work with poker. You are in a one–person business. No one but you can make up for a weakness. You can choose to be a good player or a world class player. This book will, at a minimum, make you a good player. If good is your objective you will learn those things that are part of your natural strengths and look over and perhaps become familiar with those details that don’t excite you.
If you choose to be a great player you must learn and do everything. Becoming great demands doing and learning some things which are not fun. Accept the fact you cannot overcome a weakness naturally; it does take extra practice. The true difference between ordinary and extraordinary is extra. Compensating for weaknesses may not be enjoyable but becomes bearable if you look at it through the lens of a march toward being the best. You cannot fail to know which hands you can play and when. You must be patient and wait for the right hands. You must be selectively aggressive. You can’t skip the 10,000 practice readings of the board (yes, that’s one assignment). You must know the minimum bets needed in the pot before you can even consider drawing to an inside straight. You must keep a complete and thorough log. It goes on and on. No matter what your personality you are going to find things in this book you don’t like or want to do. But every step will increase your competitive advantage. The choice is yours. Good or world class. Commercial: If you go to PokerVT.com, Mr. Daniel Negreanu and I will personally teach you to be world class.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Swayne seems to have the full endorsement of Daniel Negreanu. Daniel wrote the foreword, and Swayne does the mathematical presentations on the training site which features Negreanu. So, no doubt Swayne is very competent. Primarily, I question his approach.
My first objection is that Swayne offers a poker "pyramid" or hierarchy. At the bottom, or base, is $10/$20 and lower limit poker. Then the next level is $30/$60 and up limit poker. Next is cash no limit, then no-limit tournaments in which the blinds progress fast, and finally, at the apex, are no-limit tournaments in which the blinds progress slowly. (As an aside, I think Daniel is a recognized, world-class player in these types of tournaments.... deep stacked, slow blind progression tournaments). Perhaps Swayne doesn't mean to say that we should all aspire to the top-level of the pyramid, or that the person who reaches that level is the "best" of the poker world. But, he sure implies that. Personally, I know some individuals who are EXCELLENT limit players. They would probably beat the socks off of a tournament player in a limit cash game. From a personal standpoint, I prefer a no-limit cash game. Does that make me "better" than the limit player, or "not-as-good" as the tournament player. No. It just involves a different skill set.
And by-the-way, if you happen to enjoy sit-n-gos, this book will be of only marginal benefit for you. Sit-n-gos are their own beast, and you can find other books that will generally be more helpful.
I think what this book DOES excel at is providing information on the hand strength of starting cards. All to often we see books that say, "Don't play Ace-rag at all, or at least not in early position." Or they say, "K-T unsuited is a dangerous hand to play." Swayne goes to great effort to quantify the value of hands, based upon position and other factors. It really "brings home" why some starting hands, which many play, really belong in the muck.
Note that a huge part of this book is devoted to quantifying the value of your two hole cards for PRE-flop play. His post-flop advice is really nothing more that several pages of rather generic advice. Valuable, yes. But still, fairly bland. For instance: "If you can't decide between betting or checking on the turn, bet." Or... "if you have a set, and nothing else is apparent on the board, bet hard, raise; reraise." Nothing wrong with any of this advice.... but by and large it's pretty generic.
If you are a no-limit player, you go through 10 chapters before you get to the one-and-only chapter devoted to no-limit. At that point you get one chapter devoted to no-limit (and you learn that some of the things you learned in the first 10 chapters no longer apply). An additional problem I have with this chapter is that Swayne sort of slips into discussions about tournament play, but doesn't do a very good job of making the point as to whether he is discussing cash strategy or tournament strategy. I do get the feeling that he considers no-limit cash play an after-thought. But, that is my perception. The whole chapter on no-limit play really needs to be re-written. Perhaps split into two chapters...one devoted to cash play, and the other devoted to tournament play.
Swayne also has some recommendations that I question. For instance, he wants you to first play 250,000 hands of low-limit cash games before "progressing." Do the math. How long will it take you to play 250,000 hands of low-limit cash games..... and you will then need to *change* your style of you really prefer no-limit cash games or no-limit tournaments. He also has other memorization tasks for the reader that seem to be of marginal value.
And then...a chapter on "Ultimate Texas Hold'em." This is a casino "carnival" game. Doesn't belong in this book, in my opinion. His argument is that UTH can, like blackjack, be beaten. But really, is any serious poker player going to be playing UTH?
Swayne is heavily oriented to the brick & mortar poker player. For a person who talks about figuring out if the table and the individual players are tight/loose aggressive/passive, he doesn't do ANY discussion of heads up displays. Actually, anyone who wants to fully incorporate Swayne would do best, in my opinion, playing on-line using a HUD.
I probably sound pretty critical. As noted, I don't think his chapter on no-limit is handled well, and to be honest I don't think you need to be accomplished limit player in order to be an accomplished no-limit player. They are really two different games that require two different playing styles. However, I DO think that that his rather detailed discussions on starting hand strength, position, and the characteristics of your table make this book a definite buy. Learning those things will make you a better poker player. But I'm not convinced that following Swayne's homework assignments in a step-by-step manner will make you a better player.
I am an analytically minded person and player and finally there is a book that uses quantifying numerics rather than the simple good and bad. I like the way that Charley doesn't broad stroke complex issues especially preflop play. This book is more than an elementary tutorial of the game of Hold 'Em. Some material is difficult to comprehend but I can attest that the issues and topics presented in this text will manifest better returns and more success for players.
After reading and studying this book my outlook on poker as a whole has changed and my bankroll has subsequently increased. Poker is about making good decisions and Charley Swayne helps the reader simplify the processes ultiamtely making it easier as a player to make the best decisions possible.
I believe this book has topics beneficial to both online, as well as, brick & mortar playing.
PATL Matrix, Table Image, Table Texture, Win Factors, Interim Hand Model. It is all good stuff
Thanks Charley for helping me increase my ROI.
Page 90: "Many authors say to bet cautiously unless you have one of the top two flush cards in your hand at the river." Correct. If your opponent also makes a flush, he has a 25% chance of having the ace if you and the board do not. That is because there are 8 other cards of the same suit. These came be put together in 28 combinations, of which 7 include the ace. Swayne's graph has the odds at only 20%. The rest of graph is also seriously miscalculated.
Page 219: Truth Drawing Numbers. This is a table of the minimum number of bets in the pot to see the next card. Very serious miscalculations. On the first line is a four flush and open-straight draw. There are 15 cards out of 47 that will improve the hand to a straight or flush. So you will want to call for 1 bet if there are just 2 bets in the pot. In other words, if there is one opponent and he makes a pot-size bet, call based on simple pot odds. Swayne says FOLD despite having a monster drawing hand! He says that the pot needs a minimum of 4 bets. So if the opponent makes a bet that is a little more than a third of the pot, don't bet. The rest of the table is calculated in the same way, adding two extra bets to justify a call.