Doyle Brunson et al.
Reviewed by TwoGun and Ozone on 10 Feb 2005.
Super System has been immortalized as the Bible of poker advice. Brunson, with the help of five co-authors, was the first man to write a poker strategy book of any significant consequence. Years later, Brunson would admit to wishing he never would have written this book "because it gave away so much information." Shortly after it was released in 1979, so many poker players read this book, that Brunson's "secrets" soon became household knowledge.
Furthermore, most of the book's advice pertains to the types of games played in the late 70's, which often have little relevence to today's games. Thus, many "secrets" that the book reveals would only help you if you took a time machine back to 1975.
Sadly, a very large majority of this book is of little to no value to an aspiring poker player today. Mike Caro's section on Draw Poker may have some value in alcohol-rich home games, but rarely is Draw Poker played for high stakes amongst serious poker players. David Sklansky's lecture on hi-lo is also of little value. Today, hi-lo is most often played with an "eight or better" qualifier, which Skalansky's passage doesn't take into account. Time has rendered Bobby Baldwin's lecture on Limit Hold'em ineffective. Limit used to be played with a single blind and an ante by every player. Baldwin's advice is written with this in mind, which isn't too helpful for today's small blind and big blind structure. There are also several other books on the market today which do a much finer job of dissecting a solid Limit Hold'em strategy.
There are two sections which have retained some value over the past 25 years: Chip Reese's section on Seven-Card Stud, and Doyle Brunson's section on No-Limit Hold'em. Reese's stud lecture is the most 'beginner friendly' portion of Super System. He does not give away too much, but it is still a very good starting place for an aspiring Stud player.
Doyle's advice for No-Limit is somewhat helpful for higher-stakes players. Brunson preaches aggression at every turn of the page. Brunson understands that No-Limit is a game of psychological warfare, not a game of fine percentages and pot odds like Limit Hold'em. Brunson advises the reader to steal pots and semi-bluff all-in as much as possible. In fact, the whole chapter is really just an ode to Brunson's love of the semi-bluff all-in. He introduces an interesting 'freeroll theory' which ultimately leads to all your money going into the pot while behind in the hand. Brunson feels that by constantly raising preflop and firing out at the flop, thus stealing loads of blinds, you will be able to build up a chip stack large enough to risk your entire profit for that session on a flush draw. He says by semi-bluffing all-in with a flush draw (or a straight draw), you are risking your opponent's money that you have stolen through the course of the night. Thus, even if you miss the draw, you are still even on the night.
Brunson's advice only works as well as intended when your opponents are all timid rocks. Most people who play No-Limit Hold'em nowadays play in loose games where the stacks are fairly small. It is much harder to steal pots in these games, so a major assumption of Brunson's advice is not present. Thus, players following Brunson's advice in low-stakes No-Limit Hold'em games will most likely find themselves losing a lot of money over the long run.
This book is essentially six different books in one. A highly detailed table of contents helps the reader navigate easily to the appropriate page. Doyle sets the precedent for poker books by dividing the writings up into titled paragraphs. Essentially, there are several chapters within each chapter, which helps make the 624 page book a little easier to handle. Most of the material is presented clearly and is decently written.