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Book Review: Internet Texas Hold'em

One of the first books I read when I started playing online poker was called Internet Texas Hold'em: Winning Strategies from an Internet Pro by Matt Hilger (Publisher: Dimat Enterprises, Inc., July 2003). Hilger is a businessman from Atlanta who had been playing poker online successfully for the last few years. He started out playing $1/$2 Limit Hold'em and eventually moved his way up to the $100/$200 tables.

Hilger is not just an excellent online player. His skills have carried over into his live play. He placed 33rd in the 2004 WSOP Main Event and won the 2002 New Zealand Poker Championship. Over his career, he has cashed eight times at the WSOP and made a final table at the WSOP a few months ago.

Hilger started playing poker in college and improved his game while in graduate school. He accepted a job with Chiquita Foods and moved to Costa Rica, where he began playing in weekly tournaments at the local casino. Little did he know he played and even won against some of the best players in the world such as Humberto Brenes.

Hilger hit the online tables after a job transfer to Argentina where there are no casinos because gambling is illegal. From those experiences to today, he shared what he learned from logging over 7,000 hours of online play in his book, Internet Texas Hold'em, which specifically focuses on limit Texas Hold'em. If you are considering making the jump into the fishy online poker waters, then this is the book for you.

Broken into nine sections, Hilger devotes the first three to encompassing a general overview of poker. He includes a few definitions and familiarizes the reader with internet jargon. The charts and graphs he includes are easy to read and he suggests printing them out and keeping them next to the computer while playing.

Hilger spends almost 100 pages discussing the flop. He breaks down the concept further by outlining strategy for flopping the nuts, sets/trips, two pair, top pair/overpair, middle/bottom pairs, flush and straight draws, overcards, and my favorite... trash hands. His strongest section includes his thoughts on "The Turn." He mentions raising on the turn to show the strength of one's hand instead of slowplaying, which quickly rubbed off on me. I won a few more pots instead of losing to suckouts on the river because I failed to properly protect my hand.

In the sections "Playing Your Opponent" and "Bankroll Management," Hilger highlights taking advantage of your opponents' strengths and weaknesses. He also talks about the fluctuations that might occur in a bankroll and why the player needs to stick to a formula of 350 big bets to insure he or she does not go broke at that level.

His last chapter is made up of different topics such as site and game selections, online tells, high vs. low limits, stack sizes, playing multiple tables, personal record keeping, taking notes on other players, tournaments, promotions, collusion and cheating. The end of each section has a "Chapter Review" and a quiz called "Test Your Skills." Hilger asks questions regarding different levels ($3/$6 vs. $10/$20) and gives concise answers. The best parts of his book are the random "Internet Tips" which appear throughout. This one was my favorite: "On the Internet, players tend to be a little more aggressive than in live play... since many opponents can't resist trying to bluff at a pot." (Hilger, Page 212) Although his "Internet Tips" are helpful, he doesn't reveal anything that has not already been discussed in other poker books.

Hilger only focuses on Limit Hold'em cash games, so be advised that you will not find any tips on playing No Limit or playing tournaments. Hilger's book can be helpful for beginners, and would be a solid addition to any poker library, especially for online players looking to improve their games.

Read more by Dr.. Pauly at his Poker Blog

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