by Nick Christenson
In many ways we can consider this the third installment in HP’s “Kill” poker book series, and, in fact, its French title is Kill ElkY. The book is divided into several sections with some chapters primarily written by different members of the authoring team. The book begins with a qualitative exegesis by ElkY on how he approaches the current tournament scene. The strategy provided is designed to exploit what ElkY sees as weaknesses in most contemporary players’ games. The explanation comes off as a bit jumbled at times, and it seems rather counter-exploitable, but there are a lot of interesting suggestions here.
The next big section comes from Tysen Streib, and it presents equilibrium strategies for some fairly complex no-limit hold’em situations. I’ll repeat here a complaint I had with Kill Phil, that the authors fail to provide enough methodology to instill the readers with faith that the results are significant. I can understand not wanting to provide all this detail in the text, but at least put it in an appendix. This is especially important since a significant number of the equilibrium strategies suggest some unorthodox things. For example, in the big blind against a mid-position raiser Streib suggests that one should sometimes jam with A-5s but never with either A-4s or A-6s. Why should this be the case, and more importantly, why should we believe this result? I’m willing to bet that Streib’s methodology is pretty sound, he clearly knows his stuff, but I’d just like to know what it is. In any case, at least most of the time the strategies look fairly balanced, although occasionally there’s an artifact that doesn’t make sense to me.
Later in the book there’s a section about adjustments online players should consider for live play. These suggestions all have at least a kernel of truth, but they way they’re written displays some dangerous prejudices. As just one example, there’s a section where the authors suggest that live players are mistaken to be “highly concerned with their tournament lives.” Instead of what they wrote, if the authors had said that many live poker players overemphasize tournament survival and this was exploitable, then I’d agree. In this instance, and in many others, I believe the book’s statement is too strong.
While I found that each section of The Raiser’s Edge has good material, overall the book lacks cohesion. I believe this is a direct consequence of having each of the authors take the lead on different chapters, especially within a given section. It’s my opinion that this just doesn’t work very well. I find it jarring to shift emphasis so drastically from one chapter to the next. Despite these complaints, the good material in The Raiser’s Edge makes the book worthwhile. —Nick Christenson
The Raiser’s Edge by Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Lee Nelson, Tysen Streib, and Tony Dunst Huntingon Press (2011), 421 pp. ISBN: 1-935396-48-X, $34.95