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Review of Automatic Poker Volume 1

Title:
Automatic Poker Volume 1: A Short Stacker's Guide to Winning Poker
Author:
Jimmie James, Jr.
Publisher:
FastPencil
Date:
2013
ISBN:
978-1-60-746926-1
Pages:
310
Price:
$29.95

Reviewed by Nick Christenson, npc@lvrevealed.com

July 23, 2013

Automatic Poker Volume 1 is a self-published book from first-time author Jimmie James, Jr.. The topic of the book, as the subtitle suggests, is winning at online 6-max no-limit hold'em cash games by buying in short. I know some people will bristle at this topic, as many no-limit players believe there should be a special circle of hell set aside for short-stackers, but I would claim that their beef is not with players who play within the rules, but the poker site who permits it. All players should always be trying to find the greatest edge they can in any game within the bounds of the rules, and players can gain a considerable edge buying in short, especially against multiple deep players.

Online short-stacking is an appropriate topic for a book, as one can make several strategic adjustments to make this a very effective way to play. I know several online players who have had excellent results playing a rote short-stacked strategy without a lot of sophisticated poker acumen. Moreover, because there are fewer chips, this lowers the complexity of the game, making such a strategy ideal for multi-tabling.

The book could use a little editing, but there is no problem understanding what it is that James is saying. One place where I think the author could have really used some advice is in pitching the terminology used in the book to the right audience. The book claims to be suitable for beginners, but folks who don't read a lot of poker books or hang out on online poker forums are going to have issues following his language. Automatic Poker does have an extensive glossary, but doesn't contain every term used in the book, so a true novice may want to keep an Internet-connected device handy. The book also doesn't discuss hand rankings or game mechanics, so this shouldn't be the first poker book for a true novice, which is just fine.

Another issue is that the early chapters of the book are a bit disorganized, often pointing toward material that will be covered later in the book. Organizing complex thoughts and presenting material in the proper order is one of the most difficult skills for beginning authors to acquire, something I'd expect James is now very much aware. So, this isn't surprising, nor is it a deal-breaker for this to be a useful book, but early on this can be a bit irritating for the reader.

The advice in Automatic Poker is pretty decent, though. I haven't done a careful check to ensure that James' raise/fold ratios aren't out of line, but at first glance they appear pretty reasonable. One also has to remember that his strategy is designed to be exploitive of the sorts of players who frequent low buy-in online games. There are some places where I feel he gives sub-par advice, but these occasions are rare. There's also a great deal that could be said about playing short-handed no-limit hold'em that the book doesn't cover, but perhaps James is waiting for Volume 2 to address those concepts.

Honestly, I'd expect most advanced no-limit poker players will already have thought about most of these ideas, and those who have spent time considering a short-stack strategy will know most of the broad concepts that James outlines. They may not have arrived at the same "automatic" (although by necessity a still fairly complex) strategy as the author, so perhaps a reader with such experience could find James' suggestions worthwhile by comparison. Beginning and intermediate players who wish to understand short stack strategies will definitely find ideas to consider from Automatic Poker, even if the beginners will have to work a bit to penetrate some of the jargon. I also really liked some of the ways in which James configures his HUD software, and that part of the book may be valuable to a number of players all by itself.

The title and the early parts of the book suggest that the purpose of the book is to describe a recipe for playing a winning game. Indeed, big parts of this book are devoted to a set beginner and intermediate strategies. Other topics are covered, however, such as exploiting opponents, bankroll management, and avoiding tilt. Personally, I think it would have been better if the author stuck more rigorously to the book's central theme, but what he has to say on these peripheral topics is fine and useful, it's just not all that novel. The raison d'etre of the book is novel, and because of that, I believe sticking to it is of greater benefit to James' readers.

Automatic Poker isn't a classic by any means. There are many ways in which I believe the book could have been better. But, it's not at all bad, especially considering it's on a worthwhile topic that hasn't been covered extensively in print. I believe quite a few poker players will find it valuable, and those with an interest in the topic may want to seek it out.

Capsule:

Automatic Poker covers strategies to be used playing short-handed in online 6-max no-limit hold'em cash games. The book has some flaws, but it also contains a lot of material that I expect will be interesting to people who haven't spent extensive work analyzing these games, plus I really like some of the author's ideas regarding HUD configuration. So, I give the book a qualified recommendation.

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