Real Poker II: The Play Of Hands - Roy Cooke

This book is a compilation of articles that the author wrote for Card Player Magazine over the years, with most of the material coming from the 1990s.  The situations written about did come from actual hands that Cooke played, and although the material is pretty dated from today’s perspective, it does provide some very good insights on how a good player thinks.

The articles are divided up into five categories, although this book should really be read cover to cover.  Each chapter within them deals with one specific hand, where Cooke goes over the play of the hand and offers up his insights and thought processes to the reader.

Roy Cooke has always been known as one of the slower players around, and many people have wondered what poker pros are thinking about as they take so much time to deliberate, and this book will provide you with a lot of great insights as to what actually goes on in a poker pro’s mind at the table.  

So in spite of this being limit poker which hardly anyone plays anymore, and live limit poker at that, most of it being from a couple of decades ago, the process of playing good poker and in particular, thinking through your decisions properly, hasn’t changed as much as some people think.  

What I really like about this book is Cooke’s focus on making the right decisions regardless of the outcomes of the particular hands.  He is definitely a good player and it wasn’t an accident that he wrote for Card Player for all of those years.  

The material is clearly written and well organized, and entertaining as well.  Even though a lot of the material is reprinted from previously published articles, some of the articles were revised, and I doubt anyone would want to go through all those editions of Card Player to dig up all of the material that he references in this book.

Each chapter, on each hand, is also not so long as to have the reader lose interest.  It’s important not to be too put off by the fact that the play of hands here are in a game that we may not play, and while it’s true that no limit is considerably different than limit poker, there’s enough similarity to make this a good read no matter what form of poker you play.

The advice contained in the book is of fairly good quality, even if you are an advanced player.  I tend to disagree with a lot of poker strategy that is written, but there wasn’t a lot in this book that I found any kind of serious fault with.  

So this book is a good read for players of all levels and in spite of how old it is and how out of date it may seem to be, while you probably won’t find that it’s among the best poker books you have ever read, you well likely feel like it was well worth the price and time.

Rating: 5 out of 5