Poker Book Report – Your Worst Enemy by Alan Schoonmaker

Alan Schoonmaker has had one of the best poker books on the market for years, called The Psychology of Poker. Given the nature of its title, it is a book that barely touches hand-to-hand gameplay scenarios and therefore may have been considered a read without the fanfare of writers such as Doyle Brunson, David Sklansky, and Mike Caro. Just didn’t have the “meat” strategy or not?

I have this book on my top ten list since I read it for the same reason others chose not to read it. It’s a deep thought that goes to the heart of every poker player’s fundamental strategy and profiling skills development. Anyone who has not read and thinks they can do without it is super skilled (10-20 players in the world) or simply ignores costly realities.

Here, now, we introduce Dr. Alan Schoonmaker’s latest addition to the poker collective psyche, a new book called “Your Worst Poker Enemy.” Yes, you guessed it – for the same reason that you didn’t read the first book, YOU are your worst enemy in poker, and among those thoughtful pages you can find out exactly why this is and what to do about it.

Recently, I was in a sit and go tournament where, during the early stages, I noticed a player generously handing out the usual “nh” – good hand comments while he was (by no ability) the first chip leader. Later, when the tournament narrowed and his competition increased, he became less friendly and eventually, when I took the lead, absolutely belligerent. Just before I won the tournament and eliminated him in third place, he really talked about killing me if he saw me. Oh brother

Here is a typical low limit player who simply has no idea that he was also his worst enemy and is therefore hindering his own growth in the game. Schoonmaker brings to light in this poker book how players usually play above their skill level, feeling that they can win the game, without considering that there are easier levels to select and improve their own probability of profitability. He also makes it very clear that there are very few players on this planet who can do some of the things that Brunson, Hansen, Ivey and Negreanu do regularly. Nor is it a simple matter of calculating poker odds.

In fact, Schoonmaker further states that it is absurd to follow some of the advice these professionals give to amateurs, referring to a specific Brunson recommendation from Super System for relying on their intuition to decide their strategy. Since you and I are not these players and probably don’t have that kind of intuitive skill, a more scientific and logical approach to the game is needed.

Once you accept this premise, the rest of the book makes perfect sense and can be used as a layered psychological toolkit for your next game. Dr. Alan Schoonmaker has a value perspective for this game as he admits that his skill levels are not world class, but he profits because he knows which games he can win and does not let his pride or arrogance make decisions for him. If this sounds like you, (and how could it not, really?), Maybe it’s time to think a little more about your game and face your worst enemy.

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