Poker Book Reviews

By Dylan Diehl

Mat Lessinger's The Book of Bluffs: How to Bluff and Win at Poker picks up where Mike Caro's Book of Poker Tells leaves off, teaching players how to bluff, how to utilize a bluff to make their opponents fold, and how to prevent being bluffed. Lessinger's opening chapters provide background material: one discusses when one can successfully bluff and when one can not, and the other primarily classifies opponents according to which ones are more likely to be bluffed and which ones are not. The remaining chapters chronicle different bluffing situations, most of which are taken from actual hands the author has either himself played or witnessed. He divides this wide range of bluffs into categories such as "Representing Strength," "Attacking Weakness," and "Online Bluffs." In his descriptions and analyses of various bluffs and hands, Lessinger, a Card Player columnist (and thus an unsurprisingly skilled writer), carefully breaks down the precise elements of the bluffs, avoiding any confusing generalizations. For most of the bluff types, he provides their degree of difficulty, the frequency with which their particular situations arise, and a qualitative description of the bluffs' rates of success. He discusses when the bluffs don't work, and why, as well. The final chapter deals solely with examples from great bluffing moments in the World Series of Poker; Lessinger impressively adds his own observations from ESPN footage of the various hands as well as recounts hands that were not televised, but stand as interesting bluffing examples.

Problematically, some of the bluffs explained are longshots, or, in the case of some from the World Series of Poker, unlikely to be encountered or utilized in a typical game. The book also provides an abundance of bluff examples for Omaha and 7-Card Stud poker, but does not focus enough on bluffs for no-limit hold 'em, especially given the game's prevalence. What hold 'em discussions the book has pertain mostly to limit games, especially higher limit ones.

As a reminder, since The Book of Bluffs is a specialized book, a poker novice reading it must be cautious and not assume that bluffing is consistently appropriate and effective in every situation detailed there. Due to its narrow focus, the book better suits the needs of intermediate to advanced level players seeking to improve the bluffing aspect of their game who can read this insightful book with a discerning eye.

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