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"Championship Hold'em Tournament Hands" Review

Overview
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TitleChampionship Hold'em Tournament Hands
AuthorTom McEvoy and T.J. Cloutier
Year2003 (2005 edition)
Skill LevelBeginner (strategy)/Any (hand recaps)
ProsSolid, basic advice on playing Limit and No-Limit Hold 'Em. Excellent collection of important WSOP Main Event hands.
ConsOver half of the book is on Limit Hold 'Em, and all of the advice is a bit tight for modern play.
Rating3.0 (2.5 for the strategy and 4.0 for the hands)

Table of Contents
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PageTitle
15Foreword
19Limit Hold'em Hands
21Introduction
24Big Pairs
45Big Connectors
64Medium Connectors
77Medium Pairs
90Small Pairs
102Small Connectors
105Big-Little Suited
112One-Gap Hands
120Two-Gap Hands
129Three-Gap Hands
139Playing the Blinds
144Playing Against Super-Aggressors
151No-Limit Hold'em Hands
153Introduction
156Aces
178Ace-King
187Kings
197Two Queens
202Two Jacks
205Ace-Queen
208Ace-Jack
210King-Queen
213Ace-Wheel Card
219Two Tens
224Middle Pairs
226Small Pairs
231Middle Suited Connectors
236The "7-2" Factor
239Building Your Stack
245Key Concepts Learned at the World Series of Poker
247Introduction
249WSOP Concepts From 1978
254WSOP Concepts From 1979
260WSOP Concepts From 1981
267WSOP Concepts From 1982
269WSOP Concepts From 1983
272WSOP Concepts From 1984
274WSOP Concepts From 1985
277WSOP Concepts From 1987
280WSOP Concepts From 1988
282WSOP Concepts From 1990
285WSOP Concepts From 1991
290WSOP Concepts From 1992
298WSOP Concepts From 1993
300WSOP Concepts From 1994
305WSOP Concepts From 1995
309WSOP Concepts From 1997
318WSOP Concepts From 1998
324WSOP Concepts From 2000
330WSOP Concepts From 2001
335WSOP Concepts From 2002
347Tournament Poker Terms

Note: actual Table of Contents go one level deeper.

Review
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Championship Hold'em Tournament Hands is really two books in one. Fortunately, the strategy sections were written by a WSOP Main Event winner, Tom McEvoy. Unfortunately, over half of his chapters discuss Limit Hold 'Em. Fortunately, even without those, the book still has over 200 pages. Unfortunately, the 1983 champ spends 22 of them on how to play a pair of Aces in the hole, a hand you'll only get once every 221 hands. Fortunately, T.J. Cloutier's part of the book on important tournament hands is excellent. Unfortunately, he fills less than a third of the book. Fortunately, most of the hands are the pivotal hands from the World Series of Poker Main Event. Unfortunately, he only covers 1978 to 2001, so an entire decade was already missing when the book was published (and now it's less than half of the years).

McEvoy wants you to play supertight, especially in early position. Players he described as "Super Aggressors" then would be considered about average now.

For No-Limit Hold 'Em, McEvoy dedicates a short section to each of the top nine hands (Aces through Tens, Ace-King to Ace-Jack, and King-Queen)1 plus Ace-Wheel,2 Middle Pairs, Small Pairs, and Middle Suited Connectors, with everything else folded. Some of these sections are split into Early, Middle, Late Position, and occasionally the Blinds. This means the advice, as accurate as it may be, is very brief. In general, McEvoy recommends playing very tightly, which is certainly an appropriate beginner's strategy.

The advice is very heavy on preflop hand selection and very light on everything after that. The implication is that if you pick the right hands to play, good results will follow. More about postflop play would have been useful.

The second part of the book covers 44 key hands from the WSOP Main Event plus one from the 2002 Four Queens Classic.3

About a quarter of these hands are the final hands of the event. Cloutier gives the back story where it's relevant, includes most of the details like blind, stack, and bet sizes, and offers some analysis of the play of some of the most important hands in the history of poker.

Note: McEvoy and Cloutier also released Championship 107 Hold'Em Tournament Hands in 2003 with much of the same material but organized differently (Limit Hold 'Em starting hands, WSOP Main Event final table hands by number of players remaining, and No-Limit Hold 'Em starting hands). It has more hands if you're primarily interested in the WSOP history but also contains many more errors and appears to be the earlier book.

Errata
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