Dusty Schmidt – Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth

Dusty Schmidt – Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth

Poor Phil Hellmuth. Despite winning 11 WSOP bracelets, earning more than $11 million in tournaments, and authoring several popular poker strategy titles, everybody’s picking on him!

The rise of poker forums over the last decade has provided ample opportunities for many to voice their opposition to Hellmuth’s play (not to mention other traits we’ve come to associate with the “Poker Brat”). Then in 2005 came Kill Phil by Lee Nelson and Blair Rodman, a book specifically designed to teach tournament players counter-strategies to those employed by the Wisconsin native.

Of course, Kill Phil might well be regarded as having acknowledged the effectiveness of Hellmuth’s style (and that of other successful tourney players, some also named Phil), insofar as its advice was catered toward amateur players looking for ways to minimize the skill divide between themselves and the top pros. Nevertheless, Kill Phil did strongly suggest there were other ways to win than those recommended by its cover boy.

Now comes a new title which also invites us to question the Hellmuthian approach. To be more precise, this new book co-authored by Dusty Schmidt and Paul Christopher Hoppe does more than simply suggest thinking twice before we choose Hellmuth as a model and/or follow the recommendations of the 11-time champ. Indeed, there’s a bit of urgency present in the title, which is really a command: Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth.

Following that asterisk on the cover, one finds the authors not merely dissuading us from listening to Hellmuth, but to cast aside also the advice of “a host of other ‘world champs’, TV commentators and other self-proclaimed experts” on poker. In other words, as is explained further in the book’s introduction, Schmidt and Hoppe focus “on correcting the greatest fallacies of poker” — those cliché-like aphorisms that over recent years have grown into “bloated edicts” thanks to their having been blindly repeated and followed by countless authors, commentators, and players.

A fundamental premise of Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth, then, is that the game of today has changed markedly even from what was played just a few years ago, making the advice one finds in books like Hellmuth’s best-selling Play Poker Like the Pros — first published in 2003 — not only outdated but in many cases dangerously misleading.

Both Schmidt and Hoppe are successful and experienced online players, and they admit early on that the instruction their book offers is biased somewhat toward the online game. It should also be noted that the emphasis here is primarily on middle-stakes, no-limit hold’em cash games, although the book contains a lot of worthwhile discussion to benefit those playing lower limits, too, with many instances of the authors distinguishing differences in play among various stakes.

The book is divided into three parts. First comes 50 chapters, each titled with a different “misconception” or much-repeated strategic maxim the pair wishes to challenge. These chapters are where the authors most specifically work to achieve their purpose “to ultimately function as a FactCheck.org or ‘Mythbusters’ for poker.” A second part presents 25 online hands played by Schmidt (ranging from $2/$4 to $10/$20 NLHE), the analyses of which help to apply various advice given in Part 1. The book then concludes with a 60-question multiple-choice quiz designed to test the reader’s understanding of the book’s many lessons.

Those who pick up Don’t Listen to Phil Hellmuth will likely recognize most the “misconceptions” under attack here, especially if they’ve read a strategy book or two before.


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