Thursday, March 31, 2005


John Vorhaus - Killer Poker Online - Poker Night

I've expressed my admiration for John Vorhaus and his books in writing here before, but I don't know if I've gone into enough detail about how much I've enjoyed his writing. Killer Poker Online and Poker Night are two of the books I keep on the shelf next to the bed to read at night before going to sleep, especially on the nights when I'm not up to the somewhat dry task of re-reading Sklansky's Theory of Poker. I frequent the message boards over at Two plus Two occasionally, and the impression I get from there is that most of them aren't big fans of John Vorhaus. I respectfully disagree.

A lot of poker players at Two plus Two are so intent on being profitable and understanding the mathematics of the game that they've forgotten that the whole purpose of a game is to have fun. John Vorhaus doesn't forget to have fun with it. He also points out that if you forget about having fun, and just start playing well and winning at poker, it becomes more fun as an end result of that process. It's an almost zen kind of thing that he points out in his books, and I think he made that point most clearly in his most recent book, Poker Night which is aimed mostly at players in home games.

Another technique I picked up from Vorhaus that helped my play was his advice on table image. He's a fan of tight, aggressive poker, which is the same advice everyone gives, but he explains it in a way that made sense to me. One complaint a lot of Sklansky fans have is that they have such a tight table image that they never see any action when they do catch a playable hand. John Vorhaus advises that you pretend that you're playing a secret game called "raise", and since you're raising every time you play a hand, confused players will think that you're a loose player even though you're actually tight and aggressive. Poor players, which are the best kind of poker players to play with if you're playing for money, confuse aggression with looseness.

Sometimes when I'm on tilt or thinking about going on tilt, I switch to Vorhaus's "blackjack attack" strategy to get myself back on track to play good tight poker again. The way the blackjack attack works is that you only play starting holdem hands that add up to 20 or 21. Face cards count as 10's. So you'd fold 99's or lower. The only suited connectors you would play would be 10J or above. This is NOT always correct play, but if it helps you tighten up your game and learn patience, then it's worthwhile. If it gets you off tilt, then it's a good move to make too.

John Vorhaus has written, in his estimation, over a million words about poker. That's a lot. You can read some of his writing on poker in the following places:

John's also a comic writer and a screenwriter, and if his writing there is as entertaining as his poker writing, then he's probably pretty doggone good at it. Vorhaus also writes for Ultimate Bet, which is my favorite online poker room.

Ultimate Bet

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