Review: Inside The Poker Mind

3 Star, Book Reviews

August 14, 2007

Author: John Feeney

Publisher: 2+2

This book is pretty good. It may surprise a lot of readers, however, because despite the fact that Feeney is a degreed psychologist he takes an approach to poker psychology that more poker and less psychology. The book is a collection of essays by Feeney with only limited connections between them.

The essays cover a variety of topics. Some of them, such as the discussions of tilt, are inherently psychological. Others, such as the discussion of play against a maniac, are almost entirely technical. All of the technical discussions are in the context of limit holdem, and readers who play NL, stud, or Omaha primarily may not get full value out of the book. The presence of the technical discussions make me think that this book is more of a “brain dump” from Feeney than an organized book, but I’m OK with that because he has some interesting things to say.

Most of the essays are correct, or at least thought provoking, but there are places where I believe Feeney is simply wrong. For starters, his pre-boom take on the effect of poker tournaments on poker as a whole is simply laughable in light of subsequent events. Second, I disagree with his stance of downplaying the importance of tells. The more I play, the more convinced I become that subtle physical tells are extremely important, especially in NL play. I also find it suspicious that when suggesting how to learn poker faster he recommends coaching from Dave Sklansky, who also happens to be his publisher. Coincidence? I think not.

Ultimately, I’d be more interested in a book on poker psychology that approaches the subject from a psychological perspective and offers some deeper insight. That might be a very difficult book for anyone to write, but I wish Feeney had tried. Still, Inside the Poker Mind is interesting and probably worth your time.

Rating: 3 stars

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