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"From Vietnam to Vegas" Review

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TitleFrom Vietnam to Vegas
AuthorQui Nguyen with Steve Blay
Skill Levelany
ProsGreat and numerous hand analyses with Nguyen's thoughts and Blay's calculations.
ConsA bit repetitive, as the same educational points appear in multiple hands and at the end of the three final table chapters.

Table of Contents
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8Foreword by Antonio Esfandiari
12The Two Facets of Poker Expertise1
162016 WSOP Main Event Final Table, Day One2
852016 WSOP Main Event Final Table, Day Two3
1642016 WSOP Main Event Final Table, Day Three4
393Q & A with Qui Nguyen5
408From Vietnam to Vegas6
443The Independent Chip Model (ICM)7

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On July 19, 2016 the November Nine was set when short-stacked Josh Weiss exited in tenth place. Despite being second in chips, less than ten percent behind Cliff Josephy, Qui Nguyen's odds of winning were considered significantly worse by most bookies. In some places, Nguyen had the same odds as third place Gordon Vayo, whom Nguyen led by an 11-to-8 margin.

Steve Blay and his company Advanced Poker Training ran repeated simulations of the final table that indicated that Qui Nguyen was actually the mostly likely winner. This convinced Nguyen to hire Blay as an advisor (and led to the creation of this book).

Three months later, Nguyen dominated the final table to capture the title. This is his story.

Blay discusses poker strategy and psychology, comparing the game's thought process with how chess grandmasters analyze positions. The guts of the book are three chapters, one for each day of the final table, examining the most important hands with Nguyen's thoughts at the time and Blay's later mathematical analyses. The book presents a table diagram with chip stacks and cards for every significant pot that Nguyen won or lost and every major hand where he folded early. Although Nguyen considers himself to be a "feel" player, Blay shows that most of his decisions were mathematically sound.

A chapter at the end covers Nguyen's life from his humble beginnings in a Vietnamese village living without plumbing or electricity to dropping out of school at 16 and repairing and peddling goods in Saigon to emigrating to the United States to join his father in California to starting his poker career in Alaska before taking it up seriously in Florida.

From Vietnam to Vegas doubles as an excellent history of the 2016 WSOP Main Event final table and an intermediate Texas Hold 'Em strategy book. Because so many hands are presented, some of the lessons are repeated a few too many times, but in the end the reader will be well-drilled in aggression, position, the Independent Chip Model, and many finer points of tournament poker.

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