Super System 2 - A Course in Power Poker by Doyle Brunson

super systemWhen the Super System 2 - A Course in Power Poker book was finally released, there was so much hype surrounding it that poker players’ expectations were at an unnatural high. And why not? The original Super System, which was released more than 30 years ago, is considered the Bible of poker. The generally comprehensive discussion of poker theories and tactics, poker strategies, and poker games is authored by the masters of poker themselves, which lends it an authoritative tone.

However, Super System 2 is a big disappointment for many reasons. For those who worship Doyle Brunson and his co-contributors, this book review is not for them.

First, Super System 2 disappoints in that Doyle Brunson’s chapter is a rewrite of the original in Super System. He just crosses out unnecessary parts, rephrases sentences, and adds a few more flourish, but the essence remains the same. How is that for a sequel?

Second, Doyle Brunson writes about online poker like an overeager salesman of door-to-door online poker software, if there ever is such a thing. But you get the drift? He goes on and on and on about his online poker website that you start to feel like tearing up the book, throwing it into the fire, and blocking his website on your personal computer. The Texas Dolly should have done better than to copy and paste online poker information from the Internet.

Third, all of the authors in the book cannot help but pay homage to each other. Where they would kill each other for the money and the prestige in front of the poker table, in Super System 2 they shift to overkill with their mutual admiration. There just seems to be no room for modesty among all of them; such uncommon immodesty makes you want to beat them at their own game using their own poker strategies.

Fourth, the chapters are poorly written and the whole book itself has a discordant feel to it. This is to be expected as the book is written by different authors with different writing styles, but at the very least, more editorial effort should have been exerted to make it one seamless read. Indeed, Super System 2 has two common threads running through it: first, the almost insufferable ego stroking, and second, the poor writing on all the chapters. Well, maybe not all. The table of contents and glossary cannot be helped if it is dry, writing-wise.

Fifth, Super System 2 is thick and heavy, which makes it unwieldy to carry if you want to learn poker theories and poker strategies on the road. Its bulky advertisements at the end only contribute to the bulkiness of this 700-page book. This makes Super System 2 not just a book about poker games but also a shameless capitalist venture; nothing wrong with capitalism so long as it makes life a little easier and lighter.

Lest Doyle Brunson fans lead me to the guillotine for the abovementioned criticisms, let me say one very good thing about Super System 2.

The way the chapters have been divided based on the particular strength of the poker player makes it easy and convenient for the moderately experienced player. This was also the format of the original Super System, which is a good holdover for Super System 2.

As I have already criticized Brunson’s so-called update on the no-limit Hold'em section, I will refrain from doing so again. On the other hand, the section on stud eight or better section, authored by Todd Brunson, is better written. It would seem that the son is not only becoming the equal of his father as a poker player, but is becoming a better writer.

Jennifer Harman writes about limit Hold'em, but like the chapter by Todd Brunson, it suffers from a lack of pages. Maybe the chapter could be expanded into a whole book. Pot limit Omaha as covered by Lyle Berman is unremarkable, exceeded in writing quality by Bobby Baldwin’s Omaha/8 or better chapter. As to Daniel Negreanu's Triple Draw section, it is very informative if only for the fact that not many books on the poker game has been written.

All in all, Super System 2 suffers in comparison with the original Super System. So if you really want a good poker book, just buy the original.