Ken Buntjer is well known to those who follow the major poker tournament circuit. He has won numerous titles at some of the biggest poker tournaments around. In this book, Buntjer sets forth his methods for winning these big events, focusing on techniques for beating Limit Texas Hold’em events.
The first chapter is introductory material, after which Buntjer divides the stages of a major tournament into steps, and then explains his strategies in each step. This starts with pre-tourney preparation and immediately moves into early tournament tactics, including the rebuy period.
During the chapter on the early tournament, Buntjer explains his player classification system, associating the way each player plays with one of seven different animal types. Like all attempts to classify players into categories, an experienced player can easily recall examples where this categorization breaks down. As one would expect, anyone who uses a method like this runs the very real risk of overgeneralization. However, a fairly naive classification scheme may be useful to relatively inexperienced players, and I don’t think this one is worse than others I’ve seen. I really don’t think this is a valuable tool for skilled players, but as long as one remains cognizant of its limitations, it probably doesn’t hurt much.
Buntjer goes on to cover play in the middle and later Slot Gacor stages of a tournament, with special emphasis on the very late stages, with chapters specifically covering the last three tables, the last table, the last three players, and heads up play. The book closes with some advice on what to do after the tournament is over and some appendices which list the tournament structures for several events that were popular at the time the book was written.
It’s curious the number of places where Buntjer doesn’t provide information. He talks about making deals, but doesn’t give any specifics that would help a player tell a good deal from a bad one. The author discusses rebuy tournaments, but doesn’t mention under what circumstances making a rebuy or add-on is appropriate and when it isn’t. Entry fees and potential strategy changes due to different structures don’t get much coverage here either. If one is looking for a thorough book on tournament poker, this one isn’t it.
I found the most interesting part of the book to be Buntjer’s recommendations on how to pay certain stack sizes as they relate to the blinds. While this advice is directly applicable only to Limit Hold’em tournaments, these ideas could be applied to other games with a little work. Some of the information covering differing styles of play as the tournament progresses is good, but there’s similar information in other books that don’t cost quite as much.
As is often the case in poker books, if the advice here, and there is some good advice in this book, causes the reader to move up one spot in one major tournament, the book will pay for itself. There is some good information here so that the serious tournament player or poker book junkie is unlikely to feel like they’ve completely wasted their time. However, The Secret to Winning Big in Tournament Poker is not a thorough guide to tournament poker, and it does pack a steep price tag for the information it contains. It’s also not as long as it might at first seem as the page numbering is a bit funky.
Serious tournament poker players may find some of this information of enough use to justify its price tag, but overall, there are enough gaps to prevent this from being the best poker tournament book on the market, or even one of the better ones. There is some interesting information here, and there isn’t a whole lot I think is bad advice, but I believe for most readers it’s a steep price for what you get.