Book Review: Making the Final Table

5 September 2006

Making the Final Table
Erick Lindgren with Matt Matos
Harper Collins Publishers
Estimated Price: $10.99

Top Line: Unless you are as good at reading your opponents post-flop as Erick Lindgren, you must be careful employing the ultra-aggressive style this book advocates. While the strategies are sound and useful tools in any player's arsenal, the "amass-chips-or-go-home-early" style is not for everyone, especially low-rollers who don't have million dollar expectations.

Book Review:

World Poker Tour (WPT) superstar Erick Lindgren burst onto the tournament poker scene in the show's second season, winning the Party Poker Million, the Ultimate Bet Aruba Classic and making the final table at the Aviation Club in the Grand Prix de Paris. His combined performances in 2003 earned him Season Two WPT Player of the Year honors and a book deal in the WPT's Go All-in Champions of Poker Book Series.

Making the Final Table gives readers a very candid look at the secrets that make Lindgren a successful tournament player. His hyper-aggressive approach flies in the face of traditional No-Limit Hold'em tournament strategy books. Lindgren writes that the long-standing play-to-survive mentality of most tournament writers is foolish. He argues that the person with the most chips wins, joining the legion of "new school" poker player and writers pushing for a switch to an aggressive-poker style based mostly on creating huge chip stacks.

The first chapter of this book is dedicated solely to memorizing the Lindgren Mantra. Push every edge, see tons of flops, and use position every time you can. Although he cautions his reader that this is a win-or-bust philosophy, his reasoning is sound and based on the premise that low-stacks become desperate and one dimensional whereas big stacks have plenty of options and room to get lucky. This chapter is the best portion of the book because it shows you the mental preparation necessary to compete with the big boys.

Lindgren then takes the reader though an entire WPT $10,000 buy-in tournament from what to eat the morning of the tournament to how to put aside tax monies once you've won a big one. While the level-by-level instruction does give the reader a good feel for the WPT tournament structure, Lindgren never veers from the perspective of a championship player, making some of the strategy too advanced for an amateur. The hand analysis is good, but rare, and even when he makes points about specific hands, Lindgren's advice remains too general for most beginners to employ effectively.

If you are already a mid-level to strong tournament player, this book might be the push you need to bring your game to championship heights. If you're just beginning to learn tournament play, this book is a good read with some excellent anecdotes about high level tournament action, but not really the strategy guide you should use to start your poker education.


Mucking McLane

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