Best Tournament poker books

The best tournament poker book I know are Snyder’s books The Poker Tournament Formula and The Poker Tournament Formula 2.

I had not looked at his books for a long time, but was reading for a while on Kindle while waiting for my second vaccine shot today and immediately identified a cardinal error that I was making and set about rectifying it in The Milky Way tournament this evening. Started off a bit rocky and was down to 1200 chips after 1/2 hour, but came back, got a big stack, got the lead, and won the tournament.

The key is very simple actually. Get a big stack first, and then play a lot of hands and knock people out. You are always going to lose some horse-race hands, but if your stack is big enough versus opponent, you can take your licks, come back, and knock them out.

Saw two players on the final table who got a shot at the lead, at least for a while, but they played too passive. One kept limping from early position and I was able to put in raises from position, bluff flops and gradually dismantle his monster stack. The other had obtained a big stack by doubling through me with A9 versus my AK, but eventually I put him out with my 44 vs his AK, so justice was done in the end.

Funny moment in the first hour when a poster who is not a stranger to this discussion board called my flop shove and lost most of his stack announced that RP is “rigged”. It was rigged in my favor again tonight, so no problem for me. On the “rigged hand” my flush with 97s beat his (claimed) flush that he mucked. Obviously not the nuts then. A little later another well-known top RP tournament player went out and also announced that the game was “rigged” , but I am sure it was tongue in cheek.

Anyway, Snyder is the bomb. He and I think alike. Really recommend his books.


That was a quick retirement. Welcome back.

Arnold “the Bishop” Snyder is one of the surviving old time gamblers and is still active, as far as I know. Through the 1980s and 90s, his writing regularly appeared in The CardPlayer bi-weekly magazine. Most of his writing has concentrated on Blackjack and card counting, though his two ‘Formula’ poker books from the early 2000s are very worth reading, too.

Thank you. Returning from retirement after lifting my spirits by reading Snyder, I managed to win 2 1-million chip tournaments back to back tonight and took my chip total to an all time high.

The final hand was the freakiest hand you will ever see on RP. I have never, ever seen a hand like this. At least not on a final table.

After a long three way battle in which the lead had changed hands a number of times, I had slightly the largest of three fairly equal stacks.

My hand did not look particularly promising preflop, being 9 6 offsuit, but hopefully it could improve on the flop. The flop came 9 9 9, which effected a considerable improvement, but what was even better was that one opponent flopped a boat and the other made a boat on the turn, so both opponents called my shove on the river ( I was too modest to bet the flop) and I was able to sink the two boats at the same time. gg guys.

I think this is clear evidence that RP is not rigged.

1 Like

Flopping quads without a pair in the hole and eliminating two opponents for a tournament win. If this happened in a James Bond film I would have called it too implausible to accept even as fiction. Indeed anything can and does happen on

Also I really want to know what @hrn had in this hand

77 should have raised pre flop 3 handed … but nice catch :slight_smile:

@hrn had K2 and made a boat on the turn when a 2 fell. You should be able to see this if you replay the hand.

@hrn had been a massive chip leader. His playing strategy is basically:

  1. Play any Ace.
  2. Call any raise even from out of position in SB and minbet back on all flops.
  3. Call any shove with any Ace.

Apologies to him if any of this is incorrect. That is what I perceived.

Time after time I had been raising from the button and he calling from the SB. He won some pots and I won others, however, as I recall, I was able to destroy his massive chip lead when an A fell on the flop to my limped AK and his A5.

Snyder’s take on AK is that it is a good hand to see a cheap flop with, and if the flop hits, and you have top pair top kicker, then it can make you money, but it is also a hand that can lose you a lot of money when played forcefully preflop. Snyder also says that AK is a much bigger underdog to pocket pairs than most people realize, and that the odds of winning a horserace vs a pocket pair 4 times in succession with AK are virtually nonexistant. AK is particularly weak against QQ, JJ, and TT, which are the most likely opponents, because they cut off many of AK’s pathways to a straight, and if a Q does fall giving AK a straight, there is always the possibility of a lifeboat for QQ.

I agree with him. Of course when you have the shover heavily outchipped, then any 2 cards will do, and AK are good ones to have, especially since they dominate other aces. But very early in a tournament if you are looking for a quick double up AK may be the ticket if it can call all the chips in vs an inferior A.

77 definitely should have shoved preflop. I would have folded, and he would have won the hand.

1 Like

Flopping quads without a pair in the hole and eliminating two opponents for a tournament win. If this happened in a James Bond film I would have called it too implausible to accept even as fiction. Indeed anything can and does happen on

Funny you should say that. I was thinking that it was like something out of a James Bond film myself when was writing about this. Reminds me of the highly amusing contract bridge scene in which Bond rips off Sir Hugo Drax in Moonraker with a rigged deck dealing a freak hand.

07 plays bridge against the evil multi-millionaire Sir Hugo Drax in Ian Fleming’s “Moonraker.” In the story, M asks Bond to investigate Sir Hugo’s substantial winnings at M’s favorite bridge club. There, Bond discerns that Drax is a cheat. When dealing the cards, Drax peeks at the card reflections in his polished cigarette case.

When playing with M, Bond fixes the deck against Drax in the final deal of the session:

Meyer Drax
65432 76532 AKQJ
T9872 AKQJ
JT9 Bond AK

Bond, South, deals and opens 7! This is passed around to Drax, who doubles. Bond naturally redoubles.

Bond ruffs a diamond in dummy, finesses Drax’s clubs, ruffs another diamond, and finesses clubs again. Now Bond’s hand becomes good, and Drax is apoplectic.

This deal is based on the Duke of Cumberland deal from the 19th century. The Duke of Cumberland, son of King George III, supposedly held Drax’s cards during this rigged deal against hustlers.

But as you say, too improbable, even for a Bond movie.

(For those of you who do not understand bridge, the hand that is dealt to Drax is incredibly strong, holding 31 out of a maximum 40 high card points–so about the best hand that you will ever see. Bond, who is pretending to be drunk, bids to win all 13 tricks with Clubs as trumps. This appears to be completely impossible, so Drax doubles the bet and Bond redoubles the bet. Unknown to Drax, there is a freak distribution of the suits and high cards that is foreknown to Bond, and so if Bond plays the cards in the correct order Drax is unable to win a single trick with any of his high cards. Even Drax’s King of Clubs will inevitably fall under Bond’s Ace because Drax will always play before Bond, and Drax’s other high cards will be trumped.)

In the scene from the remake of Casino Royale the baccarat game is replaced with a No Limit Holdem game in which Bond wins the final vast pot with a straight flush, having survived having his drink poisoned.

Although there is no overt suggestion of Bond cheating, once the pot is concluded, he slides a half-million dollar chip over to the dealer, perhaps suggesting to the more cynical viewer that the fix was in. Certainly Bond has a history of cheating at cards and in high stakes golf games, so I would not put it beyond him.

But, then again, he is playing with the taxpayer’s money, so what is it to him? Oh, well, it is just a movie.

But as I often tell opponents, I have the RP dealers in my pocket. It just makes sense to cover all bases.

1 Like

Arnold Snyders books are great, and a lot of the concepts, such as almost never limping, emphasis on position and betting when players check are all important things. I used to think these were the best poker books Ive read. However, the more I think about it, the more questionable his ideas become. With antes, Snyder suggests shoving a lot of the time pre, which does not make sense at all. He also is very vague about what to do with 50BB+ and there is a big difference in play between 50BB and 100BB and even 200BB. He also never teaches the final table and things like ICM. Unlike what he says, players play so badly on final tables you can easily win money or at least not play badly. Also, he has this 30-20-10 rule with BBs, which states that at 30BB you have to start making moves, 20BB you might have to do some shoves and 10BB is all shoving. This makes sense, however, he says that it should then change to 40-30-20 with antes, you should not be making too many shoves from 30BB! So that play is quite questionable. His idea that the more chips you have the more useful they are has some merit, but not enough a good player should not flip a coin to try to double up to first hand or go bust, you will make less money. Overall his books have some good points and perspectives, but is slightly outdated and should not be blindly followed in my opinion.

No, no book should be followed blindly, and there is no formula that you can religiously follow to succeed in tournaments, but Snyder had a lot of success in tournaments in his time, and I daresay he would still do fairly well on RP.

The more I have a little bit of success on RP, the more I realize that one of the most important factors of all, that cannot be taught, is observing the play of opponents and devising plans to counter them. Daniel Negreanu attributes a lot of his skill in reading opponents on remembering hands that they have played before, and I can believe it.

I never used to take notes on opponents, and I still don’t, but having played the same tournaments on RP pretty regularly over the last couple of months, I have had plenty of opportunity to study the playing style of a number of the most successful opponents, and now know things like that they will always call a raise of 3BB from the BB and will always lead out with a half-pot bet with nothing, but will always quickly fold when reraised if they are donk bet bluffing. Or that another player will never raise preflop, and will never bet top pair on the flop, always preferring to go to the river. Or that another player will shove preflop with AQ at low blinds, so could be well worth a call with AK.

I have also become much better at dealing with players I have never seen before. In last night’s tournament the player who finished 4th (only 3 paid places) was a player ranked in the 300,000 range who entered lots of pots, called lots of raises but never seemed to lose a pot. He led out with a bet on every flop and placed a lot of overbets on the river forcing folds with second pair or top pair no kicker, or on flushing and straightening boards.

I experimented a bit by reraising one of his flop bets with nothing and he folded. After that if he was in the BB I would make my preflop bets a bit bigger, so as to make his lead out bets bigger when he clicked on the half pot button, so that I could then make a decision whether to go for the pot. Eventually he departed when another player set a trap for him and he fell right in.

Particularly important is how players play hands like AQ and AJ preflop. I know one player, whom I will not name, who regularly plays in the top buy-in tournaments, but I think with not a lot of success. I once saw him raise preflop, get 3-betted, and then shove with AJ off suit. The flop came with 2 Jacks and he won the pot against AK, but the important thing was knowing that this player regards AJo as a very powerful hand and that his preflop shoves are not in as tight a range as one might expect from some other players, but that a Jack high flop might be very good for him.

So no, Snyder is not the be-all and end-all, but of the books on tournament play, he may be the one who can most help amateur or beginning players to become more competitive. Certainly many tournament players on RP would benefit from his ideas.

I certainly think that Snyder is right that the best chance of winning a tournament is to get a large stack early. You can certainly win a tournament by sneaking in with a small stack and doubling or tripling up strategically with a few premium hands, and I have won plenty of MTTS in that manner, but with a large early stack you are much less vulnerable to getting rivered and going out when your AA is busted by TT on the river.

The replay viewer didn’t show his hand. Calling with K2 here after a bet and a raise is highly questionable especially when you consider ICM.

I do not know why you could not see this!

I cannot imagine what K2 thought he was beating when there were 2 other players hotly contesting the pot.

On replaying the hand a couple of times it looks as if K2 must have used the preset call button for the bet on the turn. Certainly his bet was astonishingly quick when a decision needed to be made whether to call or raise. Perhaps he took the first bet as a bluff with 2 overcards, thinking that no one would expect a player to make their boat with the 2, and just clicked on the autocall button, hoping to see another brick on the river and to then spring an ambush.

But we talk about RP as if it were the WSOP, but it is play money. If someone has the calling station gene, then they are going to call, because that is what they do.

You see it all the time, and I do it too. You have a decent hand, but it looks like someone else may have an even better one, and you should fold, but you decide that the hell with it, you are not going to be bluffed off your pretty hand, and if you lose, so be it.

Probably the best way to get an early double up in MTTs on RP is to lead on the flop with top pair, top kicker, or 2 pair, and shove the flop if it has a flush draw or straight draw, because many players with the flush draw will NEVER EVER fold it. Your whole stack on a 65/35 proposition is a pretty good deal. The only downside is that sometimes the flush seeker will have other outs, for example a pair of Aces on a later street with his suited Ace.

You even see players calling off their whole stack on a gutshot straight draw.

Here again, you have to know your opponents. If they do not have a long history of final table appearances and tournament wins at the level you are playing at, then they are more likely to call these chasing bets. The players who are persistent winners are more likely to cut their losses and look for another opportunity to win a pot.

It is a bit like dealing in options in the stock market. Most options expire worthless, so it is usually more profitable to sell options than to buy them. In poker it is much more profitable to sell drawing options than to buy them as they will always be overpriced and in any case likely to expire worthless.

The only time when it is really worthwhile to chase draws is when you have a huge stack and can afford to pay with the prospect of stacking an opponent, or else you have a really small stack and hitting the draw is your best chance of doubling up in an all or nothing situation, where folding would leave you dead in the water.

Occasionally, however, I may call a gutshot draw to the nuts, especially if I already have a pair, and pay over the odds, based on implied odds and the chances of stacking an aggressive player.

I do not know why you could not see this!

This recent forum post might explain why

I’d also highly recommend Dan Harrington’s books on tournament play (Harrington on Hold’em, 3 volumes), from the same era. Both are a little dated now, but I think still good enough far a very large edge over most here (and even in many live tournaments). And I think the ideas are easier to apply to your actual play than a lot of the more recent theory.

1 Like

Since this got moved, some of the context was lost. This was a response to a thread that was discussing playing a style recommended in Snyder’s tournament books. So “same era” refers to the early 2000’s (2003 through 2009 roughly). Poker theory has advanced in that time, but I still think there is a lot of good content here.

How to Win at Omaha High-Low Poker
Mike Cappelletti

This is the Bible when it comes to Omaha HiLo. Cappelletti was formerly a lawyer for the U.S. Department of Justice. He is also a well known bridge player who has represented the United States in international competition.

A lawyer, a bridge player, was he any good at Omaha Hi/Lo ? I never seen him at any tournaments …

Unfortunately, Mike Cappelletti passed away in 2014. He frequently wrote for CardPlayer, playing mostly ring games.