Super System 2
Super System 2 was the most anticipated book in the history of poker. Heck, it says so right on the cover. So when Doyle Brunson's super sequel finally reached my local bookseller, I bought one as quickly as I could, scarcely stopping at the adjacent coffee shop to claim a free sample of fudge.
Super System 2 was delayed for both production and distribution, a rare achievement for a book in the now-oversaturated gambling paperback market. Still, I was happy to fork over my $34.95 (plus tax, minus free dessert sample) to find out what, exactly, reading an update of the Bible would actually be like.
At 667 pages, SS2 exceeds in length even its behemoth of a predecessor, which sported 602 pages of text and oddly drawn, yet surprisingly endearing cartoons. The caricatures are back for the sequel, along with updated chapters on high-low seven-stud, limit holdem, and no-limit holdem, still the Cadillac of poker according to Doyle.
Super System 2 also adds chapters on pot-limit Omaha, Omaha eight-or-better, triple draw, and online poker. Gone are the chapters on seven-stud high-low (no qualifier), five-card draw, and even plain old vanilla seven-card stud from Super/System. Also thankfully missing from the original edition are its often-incoherent grammatical aberrations; the editors at Cardoza Publishing seem to have the arbitrary capitalization of the first edition drawing dead.
Doyle's latest 'course in power poker' like the original sports a scintillating lineup of poker celebrities as chapter authors. Joining Brunson for the sequel are Mike Caro, Bobby Baldwin, Todd Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Jennifer Harman, and Lyle Berman.
While Brunson's chapter on no-limit holdem is superb, not much is new from the original Super System. Doyle does, however, pen a decent chapter on online poker, albeit with a few-too-many plugs for his also-ran DoylesRoom.com room.
Lyle Berman's pot-limit Omaha primer is a good introduction to the game, with intermediate and beginning concepts clearly explained.
The same is true for Baldwin's Omaha-eight chapter, though the Bellagio CEO delves a little deeper into the depths of his game.
The real value of SS/2, however, is found in the chapters by its two youngest section authors, Daniel Negreanu and Jennifer Harman. These two sensations, long daily fixtures in the highest cash games in the world, stop at nothing to reveal the secrets of their assigned games.
Negreanu's chapter on Triple Draw is a joy to read and should enable even a novice to jump into a game. Scenarios are succinctly and accurately categorized, and the chapter retains an excellent sense of structure unseen in the other sections. The only problem with the section is not Daniel's fault; the chapter would only be better of Triple Draw were more widely played at the sub-stratospheric limits.
That leaves Harman's tutorial on limit holdem as the book's true gem. Harman, widely considered the poker world's best female player, patiently holds the reader's hand as she teaches a winning course in poker's most common game. Beginners can jump right into her section, while advanced players also stand to benefit from the tips within. Harmon accomplishes this impressive feat while avoiding bone-dry style of other limit holdem texts in the image and likeness of the standard Sklasnky and Malmuth fare.
Though a more significantly updated no-limit section would have sealed the deal, Negreanu and Harman's sections are alone worth the price of purchase of Super System 2. Though it may never enjoy the sacred-text status of its predecessor, Super System 2 should find its way on most players' bookshelves.
Review by Pete Cilento
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