“The most anticipated book in the history of poker”, as the cover screams, is a follow-up to the most groundbreaking work in the history of poker. With no new text for no-limit hold’em, no insightful comments on online play other than a little plugging of the site Mr. Brunson is involved in, and with no contributions anymore by the foremost poker theorist David Sklansky (while all other writers who contributed to part I and who are still with us are again present in part II), I have to admit that the book came as a bit of a disappointment to me. Of course, with so much quality information available nowadays, it would simply be impossible for a book to be as groundbreaking as Super / System 1. And with some of the best players in the field participating in this second part, high-stakes players with proven track records, this book is a pleasure to read. A good thing is that almost all contributors focus on short-handed play as well, very important if you want to become excellent at high-stakes play. Because this book is so important, I have chosen to rate each chapter separately.
My story – Doyle Brunson, 6.5
An interesting insight into Doyle’s personal life. Adds some more nostalgia and historic perspective to this book, as if we are again, as in SS1, part of a big thing and an exciting new development.
The history of no-limit hold’em – Crandell Addington, 5.5
Probably interesting for those who are a little more into history than I am.
Online Poker – Doyle Brunson, 5
Too much plugging for my taste and not a single thing about playing online that I have not read elsewhere.
43 Exclusive SS/2 tips from Mike Caro University – Mike Caro, 5
Probably the most disappointing part of the book. This is nothing more a rehash of things Mr. Caro has written over the years, with really nothing in it that he has not talked about before. While that may be OK in an average poker book for beginners, for a book of the size and stature of Super / System this is just not good enough IMO.
Specialize or learn them all? – Steve Zolotow, 6
A short chapter with a few good, but rather obvious pointers.
Limit hold’em – Jennifer Harman, 7.5
Focuses on aggression a lot, especially selective aggression. While the section starts out way too basic for my taste (I don’t like to read a discussion of how the blinds work in a book that is supposed to have new and advanced poker strategies), the further you get, the better things get. Good advice, and especially the section on shorthanded play has some better info than I have ever read in a limit hold’em book.
Omaha eight or better – Bobby Baldwin / Mark Gregorich, 8
An excellent chapter. Especially the section on playing the turn and the river are very strong, and go deeper than any Omaha / 8 book I have ever read.
Seven card stud high-low eight or better – Todd Brunson, 8
Another very good section. The author explains clearly what the best strategies are, why they are best, and he comes up with a lot of good examples – two or three situations that may seem quite alike, but where actually entirely different strategies and tactics are required. I especially like this chapter because until now there had been very little quality information available about this game.
Pot-limit Omaha high – Lyle Berman, 6
One of the sections that I really looked forward to, but that I found rather disappointing. The author doesn’t discern between big stack and small stack play, and never mentions one of the most important things in pot-limit: the size of the bet in relation to your stack. I know that for a large part this is because Mr. Berman talks about deep-money games, but I still don’t like his analysis of how to play the aces, and his discussion of why you should never raise in early position. The same objection I have about Stewart Reuben’s PLO books, I’ve got here as well: The authors thinks in either / or type of bets, like either calling or raising the max., while in my view it is often much better to make small bets and raises, both to confuse my opponents and to gain the maximum amount of information at relatively little cost. Also, those who play online very often will not find many things in this chapter that they will find useful, as they will be playing in games where the money is shallow, making Mr. Berman’s discussion of how to play the aces, and how to play in early position totally irrelevant to them. Of course, the section is not bad at all, and it actually gives a nice insight into the biggest games, but despite all this I have found remarkably good tips or strategies that I have not seen in other PLO books or articles.
Triple Draw – Daniel Negreanu, 8
To my knowledge, the first lengthy piece on triple draw to have ever appeared in print, by one of my favorite writers. Excellent description of the importance of how position can and should influence your betting and your drawing decision, and a good analysis of the dangers associated with playing sixes (in deuce to seven). Most of all, I like his section on playing after the second draw, and especially people who are not very familiar with this game will appreciate the emphasis Mr. Negreanu puts on mathematics and percentages.
Tournament overview – Doyle Brunson, 5.5
Again, a chapter that seems to be written in just a day or so, with not a lot of new or particularly insightful information.
No-limit hold’em – Doyle Brunson, 8.5
An almost exact copy of the piece in SS1, with some minor adjustments based upon the changed games nowadays. Has the same drawback as Lyle Berman’s PLO section, in that it focuses mainly on deep-money play in the very biggest live games, while most readers of the book will probably play in shallow-money, online games – which means the advice will not be very useful to them. Still, as Mr. Brunson has said himself, the section has not lost any of his power in all this years, and is as excellent as it was when SS1 came out.
World Poker Tour – Steven Lipscomb, 5.5
Again, a piece that is a bit too ‘promotional’ for my taste, with not enough strategic advice and a little too much plugging of the WPT. Still, from a historical perspective it is nice to include the person who has helped changing the face of poker by creating the TV-series that has led to the current poker boom.
All in all, maybe not enough really good pieces, but still there is no way to get around this book. And, decently priced at just $34.95, this book should be in every poker player’s library – there can be no question about it.