Tournament Poker and the Art of War
Reviewed by Stallion on Aug. 27, 2005.
David Apostolico managed to write an entire book based on the idea that Sun Tzu's strategic principles from The Art of War can be directly applied to no-limit tournament poker. The author begins by briefly outlining ten basic strategic principles of his own, relating vaguely to the Sun Tzu's ideas. Apostolico spends the rest of the book listing direct quotes from The Art of War and explaining their significance to tournament poker. Surprisingly, this works.
Thankfully, Apostolico stays away from trying to provide a formula to play any specific hand in any specific situation. Instead, he uses the teachings of Sun Tzu to craft an all-around style of play based on aggression and deception. More than anything, reading this book helps the player develop the right mindset to play no-limit tournament poker. Adapting this system is much easier and more effective than attempting to remember what exactly to do with Ax suited in a particular stage of a tournament. Although the advice here is usually presented in general terms, Apostolico does put just enough practical examples of hands (about five or six) mixed through the book to remind us why we're reading this.
The book's structure allows it to move fairly quickly. However, even at 146 pages, the book is a bit too long. There's only so much poker strategy that can be extrapolated from The Art of War.
Some of Sun Tzu's statements really have to be stretched to have any application to poker. This aspect makes the book somewhat more interesting, as you can try and figure out how Apostolico is going to work a quote. For example how on earth does "the five elements (water, fire, wood, metal, and earth)" produce poker advice? Nevertheless, the majority of the quotes selected by the author are applicable to poker. But by the latter stages of the book, the quotes and their interpretations are all pretty similar to stuff the author previously mentioned in the book.