Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Poker Book Review: "Unfolding Poker"

James "Splitsuit" Sweeney has just published a new book, Unfolding Poker.  I think it's a worthy addition to your poker library.

First let me compliment Sweeney on the title.  I love the play on words, "Unfolding Poker."  And it's especially apt since one of the lessons I learned from the book as that I'm folding too much.  I really should be "unfolding" instead.

The book's subtitle is "Advanced answers to the most frequently-asked poker questions."  Sweeney is a poker coach, releases both articles and videos at an impressive rate, encourages readers/viewers to submit poker questions and hand histories to him.  As such, he has a pretty good idea of what the most common questions players looking to fix their leaks are.

As opposed to many poker books, it is not linear.  This is not a step-by-step primer on how to play poker at a particular level.  You don't have to learn everything from one chapter to go on to the next.  In fact, you can pretty much read the chapters in any order you like.  Each chapter stands on its own.  That makes it easy to get through the material at your own pace.

The book is aimed at the beginner-intermediate level.  I'd say closer to intermediate.  You won't learn about posting blinds or what a 3-bet is—but you will learn more about when to 3-bet (spoiler alert: a lot more often than I do).  But as Sweeney says in the preface, "The concepts in this book are not overly-advanced."  It is also aimed at cash games, not tournaments.

Among the most informative chapters for me were "Making money in tight games", "When do I fold or hold an overpair", "3-betting more against fish,", "Should you play looser?" and "When should I change my bet size."  Sweeney gives the answers clearly and in depth.  And always in a very entertaining manner.

That chapter on changing bet size was invaluable for me.  As readers of my blog know, I tend to open the same amount  preflop no matter what I have.  I was told this would make it difficult for anyone to figure out the strength of my hand.  But Sweeney makes the case for varying bet  sizes, and explains when and why to do it.  If I just master this one point, I think it will improve my game significantly.

Of course, everyone who reads my blog knows I should play looser so I will definitely try to take that chapter to heart!  There's also a chapter about the best way to study poker—no, it doesn't just say "read this book!"  There are really good suggestions on how to get the most out of the material you are using to improve your game.

Actually, one of the most fun chapters in the book is one that I might not ever need.  It's about "Running it twice," and when and why you should consider doing it.  I say I might not need this because honestly, I've never been in a game where that was even allowed.  I believe in Vegas, most rooms would only allow that at a 2/5 or higher game, not a 1/2 or 1/3 game.  So it's never been an option for me.  Nevertheless, I found the discussion of whether or not to do it fascinating.

There's a lot of bonus material available accompanying the book.  Most chapters have links to articles or videos or podcasts that Sweeney has produced that help amplify the material even more. All that bonus material is definitely +EV.

I mostly listened to the audio book version (although that does come with a Kindle version and I did actually read some of the chapters).  I recommend the audio for several reasons.  For one, the author reads it in those dulcet tones of his.  Sweeney has such a great voice, I'm thinking I could enjoy just hearing him read the phone book.  But listening to him you can hear his inflections and get a better idea of what are the most important points he's trying to make. 

But what will be great is having that audio version to listen to over and over again. I'm already thinking I will re-listen to it on my way to my next poker session—and even on my way to Vegas in a couple of weeks.  Perhaps if I listen often enough, the parts about playing looser and 3-betting more will eventually sink in fully.  Hey, you know, I could actually listen to it right at the poker table, couldn't I? 

So I can readily recommend Unfolding Poker.  If you want to purchase it, you can use the link at the bottom of this post, and then use the code "robvegas" and get a 10% discount.

Use this link to purchase:  Unfolding Poker.


  1. Hmmmmm.... sounds like a book an action player should read????

    1. I would say yes....or if you're not an action player and want to become one...or at least more of one.

  2. Rob, from your cash session summaries maybe one might mistake you for The, no, not Dwayne Johnson :)

  3. It always logs me out every time I try to follow comments from my phone