Comparing poker tournament books Part 2: Harrington on Hold’ Em

In Part 1 of this series I outlined what this series is all about, and how I would be judging and comparing the different tournament poker books. The first series I will discuss is Harrington on Hold’ Em, which was considered the Tournament Poker Bible up until very recently.

Here is a look at each of the entries I will cover in this series:

  • Harrington on Hold’ Em, by Dan Harrington Volumes 1-3
  • Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker, by Jonathan Little (Volumes 1 and 2 have been released and Volume 3 is in the works)
  • Kill Phil, Kill Everyone, and The Raisers Edge, by Lee Nelson, Blair Rodman, Bertrand Grospellier et al.
  • Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time, by Jon Turner, Eric Lynch, and John Van Fleet (Volumes 1-3)
  • The Poker Tournament Formula, by Arnold Snyder (Volumes 1 and 2)
  • Standalones: Every Hand Revealed, by Gus Hansen: Tournament Poker for Advanced Players, by David Sklansky: The Full Tilt Strategy Guide (tournament edition)

Harrington on Hold’ Em Volumes 1-3, by Dan Harrington and Bill Robertie

Harrington on Hold’ Em was first released in December of 2004 when Volume 1: Strategic Play, hit the bookshelves. Over the next couple years Volumes 2 and 3 were released, and the series was basically cited as the best tournament strategy books ever penned.

The books were released at the height of the poker boom, capitalizing on the fame of back-to-back WSOP final table participant Dan Harrington, and were likely the first primer most aspiring tournament players perused, which is likely the cause of the series’ popularity.

While I felt the books were laid-out nicely, I was fairly unimpressed with the content, and found I learned very little in the way of new information, especially in Volume 1. Volume 2 was a bit more advanced (Volume 3 was a workbook, which as you’ll see throughout this series I despise these “hand examples” portions of books) but still nothing earth-shattering.

Basic Strategies (5)

Harrington on Hold’ Em does a terrific job of initiating new players into the world of tournament poker. Volumes 1 and 2 cover all the basics, and are still a terrific place for new players to begin their poker education.

 New Concepts (2)

Harrington on Hold’ Em introduced the “Squeeze Play” into the poker lexicon, and while the move was known to serious players, seeing it explicitly detailed and given a name gave it a sort of respectability. At the time the book was seen as groundbreaking, but I feel this had more to do with the sheer number of new players entering poker at the time.

Clear and Concise (4)

The series may not be concise, spanning three volumes, but it was most certainly clearly written, and easy to follow. The text is well written, and is laid-out in a step-by-step approach that brings the reader from the most basic strategies to the more complex.

Will it Stand the test of Time (3)

Approaching its 10-year anniversary, Harrington on Hold’ Em has already withstood the test of time better than most poker books. Even though there are now better options for players to choose from, HoH is still a great read, and will be beneficial to new players entering the game.

Bang for your Buck (2)

2+2 books are notoriously high-priced, and even after eight years in print HoH’s three volumes are still sporting a $20+ price-tag for each volume. With equally priced and newer (and therefore more relevant) options available HoH is not the most cost-effective solution for today’s tournament players.


Part 1: Introduction

Part 2: Harrington on Holdem

Part 3: Secrets of Professional Tournament Poker

Part 4: Kill Phil/Raisers Edge

Part 5: Winning Poker Tournaments One Hand at a Time

Part 6: Tournament Poker Formula

Part 7: Standalones


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