Review: Super System

4 Star, Book Reviews

July 28, 2007

Author: Doyle Brunson + numerous collaborators

Publisher: Cardoza

Doyle Brunson and a group of fellow high limit pros wrote “Super/System” in the late 70’s after Doyle won his second world series of poker main event title. The book contains general poker advice from Doyle followed by specific strategies for all the games commonly played a the time. It was a complete revelation when it came out – far and away the best poker book ever published up to that point on each of those games. For years it retained its status as the “bible” for casino poker play.

Today, the book reads a little differently. The generic advice is still good, although Doyle’s musings on scientific ESP will strike modern readers as a bit odd. But mostly it’s solid stuff. The game specific advice is more hit or miss. Many of the games, namely 5 card draw, limit lowball draw, no limit lowball draw, lowball stud (now called razz) and stud hi/lo split (no qualifier) are no longer commonly spread anywhere I know of. The limit holdem chapter is decent for beginners, but there is now better information out there. Chip Reese’s 7 card stud chapter is excellent, and still in my opinion the best material written on the subject because his advice is simple, and works at pretty much every limit.

The “meat” of the book is Doyle’s no limit holdem chapter. The advice contained within is very solid in the context of a deep stack no limit game. Now that these games are again commonly spread in casinos, that chapter is very valuable. Despite his tournament wins, Doyle’s advice is no longer appropriate for tournament play because the formats have changed, as has the opposition. If you looking for no limit tournament advice, get the excellent Harrington on Holdem series.

In addition to the material on dead games, there are some other minor problems with the book. The grammar is bad, and it appears no professional editing job was ever done. This is more quaint than distracting, but you should be aware of it. In addition, poker jargon is in a constant state of flux, and the meaning of some words has changed since the book was written. On recent printings, footnotes are included to help you sort out the confusion.

All and all this is still an important book for any serious poker player both from a strategic and historical point of view. I wouldn’t recommend it as a first book unless you intend to play seven card stud, but much of the information is top notch.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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