My Book Reviews

I’ve read hundreds of books, but review only ones I really like. Here are my Amazon reviews:


 

Stampede (Twitter Marketing Guide for eBooks that Generates Masses of Traffic to your Kindle page)

An Original Strategy
His Twitter strategy is VERY different from all the others I have read. Don’t bother building Twitter relationship. Don’t worry about how many followers you have. Just sell your books. I have not tried it yet, but it makes sense. (Feb. 2018)

 

Winning Strategies for No-Limit Hold’em
Both authors fully understand no-limit hold’em, and both write clearly. From reviewing over 200 books, Nick Christenson has developed an encyclopedic knowledge of poker. Russ Fox and Scott Harker wrote “Mastering No-limit Hold’em, and Russ is a columnist for “Poker Player Magazine.” All three of them have appeared on my radio show, and Nick and Russ have spoken to our No Limit Discussion Group. Naturally, I expected them to produce an excellent book.

They exceeded my expectations. I particularly appreciate their advice about one of NLH’s most difficult problems: How much should I bet? After playing only fixed limit poker for several decades, I didn’t have a clue. I read several books, but still made frequent and serious mistakes. Of course, I still make mistakes, but they are less frequent and less serious.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book. (Feb. 25, 2010)


Elements of Poker
Let me begin by saying that Tommy is a good friend who has personally helped me in many ways. After reading a pre-publication draft, I told him, “The good news is that you’ve written the most original poker book. The bad news is that you’ve written the most original poker book.”

If you want a book that applies the standard formulas, his book is not for you. If you want to look at poker and yourself in a new way, it’s a great way to spend your time and money. I won’t even try to describe his unique content, organization, and style. I’ll just superficially discuss a few of his ideas. (February 25, 2010)

As I psychologist, I loved this sentence: “We begin to see the poker table as an environment rich in the nutrients upon which delusions feed.” Poker players’ delusions are a major theme in my own books and columns in Card Player magazine. Tommy’s book will help you to avoid deluding yourself.

His most original chapter was “Reciprocality.” It’s an extraordinarily powerful and original idea.

Forgive me, but I can’t help making a pun. His position on position is utterly unique. I won’t tell you what it is, but I will say, READ IT

Better yet, buy and read the whole book. You’ll be glad you did. (June 24, 2010)


Confronting Scandal: How Jews Can Respond When Jews Do Bad Things
Warning, this book may disturb you!
In fact, she WANTS to disturb Jews (and, perhaps, others). Most people ignore or minimize scandals that involve their co-religionists. Catholics suppressed the truth about priests’ sexual exploitation for decades. Mormons are doing it now. Muslims claim that the terrorists are not “real Muslims.”

Many Jews won’t discuss Bernie Madoff, money-laundering rabbis, Yigal Ami (who assassinated Prime Minister Rabin), The Son of Sam, and other Jewish criminals. They may even claim that discussing them just gives ammunition to the anti-Semites.

Dr. Brown emphatically rejects denying reality and insists that Jews must confront unpleasant truths, no matter how painful they are. She strives to create what David Brooks called “An Arduous Community.” (N.Y. Times Op-Ed 12/21/10).

He wrote, “”I’d go out with some writers, and they’d start gushing about someone named Erica Brown… This Brown woman was leading Torah study groups… and somehow inspiring Justin Bieber-like enthusiasm… [to her] Jewish learning … isn’t about achieving tranquility. It’s about the struggle. `I try to make people uncomfortable.’…

“Brown seems to poke people with concepts that sit uncomfortably with the modern mind-set, submission and sin. She writes about disorienting situations: vengeance, scandal, group shame.”

If you’re looking for a relaxing, comfortable, “feel good” experience, this book and her classes are not for you. If you want to grow spiritually, read this book and visit her website, leadingwithmeaning.com. (Jan. 11, 2011)


A Rubber Band Story and Other Poker Tales
Most poker writers (including me) are pretty boring. We take poker very seriously because money is serious stuff.

Tommy is a terrific player and coach, but he is also a lot more fun to read than most of us. Our minds never get too far from the game, while Tommy’s mind roams freely.

He plays very well, but never forgets that poker is a game, and it should be played for both pleasure and profit.

Ditto writing. He writes to teach (and teaches very well), but he also gets immense pleasure from playing with words. He makes up a few words and uses old ones in new ways.

If your only goal is to improve your poker results, read his Elements of Poker. If you want a little boost to your profits, but primarily want to spend an enjoyable, stimulating couple of hours, read this one TOO. (May 31, 2011)


Poker, Life and Other Confusing Things
A slightly different version of this review appeared in Card Player magazine.

Whenever I have a psychological question, he’s my “go-to-guy.” He almost always has the right answer. You’ll love his novel way of looking at poker and life. They both often confuse me.

He looks at poker through the eyes of a psychologist, and psychology through the eyes of a poker player. That combination produced a book that will improve your play and help you to understand many poker and non-poker subjects, while providing a few hours of enjoyable reading.

Enjoyment is rare for most instructional books, especially ones by psychologists. The words are too obscure, the sentences are too long, and too many psychologists’ books are just, plain boring. Despite being a distinguished professor, with a long list of research publications, he is never boring. His writing often reminds me of another one of my favorites, Tommy Angelo. Both use words to amuse as well as instruct.His first few pages make three critically important points:

  • “The cards are the least important part of the game.”
  • “It is ridiculously complicated… it is the most complex game people play regularly… more complex than chess or bridge or backgammon.”
  • “Poker is also a microcosm of life.”

That is, working hard at our game can help you to succeed in more important competitions such as your business and career. But I must add a warning that he omitted: Don’t apply most poker principles to your personal and family relationships.

This book won’t directly improve your understanding of poker strategy. Because we’re just psychologists, we leave the strategic lessons to the pros. As he put it, “There is some poker strategy buried in these essays, but not directly. They weren’t written to teach anyone how to play poker. Some of them may help you play better, but the real goal is understanding the game from the psychologist’s perspective.”

Later, he made the same point in more colorful language: “This stuff won’t tell you how to play pocket jacks in mid-position against a UTG raise, but it might help you understand why you screw this situation up so often.”

His first chapter is heretical, but it’s also absolutely correct. He states that virtually everything written about poker assumes that the readers’ goal is to win the most money, but it just isn’t true. I made that point in The Psychology of Poker, and some readers didn’t like my heresy any more than they will like his. Despite all the contradictory evidence, they insist that they and most other players want to maximize their profits.
Economists have been making a similar mistake for centuries, and some of them still regard any contrary position as heresy, even though Nobel Prizes have been awarded for research that proves that investors and businesspeople don’t try to maximize profits.

But, as psychologists, our job is to help people to act more intelligently, and they can’t do it if they don’t understand their own and their opponents’ motives. As he put it, “The vast majority do not play poker to win the most money. In fact, the vast majority do not play poker to win money at all, let alone `the most.'”

He then describes five types of players: The pure fun player, the fun-plus-a-bit-of-ego player, the fun-plus-a-little-spending-money player, the semi-pro player, and the pure pro player.

Less than five percent are the last two types. The assumption about trying to win the most money applies only to them, and it does not apply all the time. No matter what they claim, even the greediest full-time pros have other motives, and they often let those motives reduce their profits or even cause losses.

To gain the most, both financially and otherwise, you must understand your opponents’ motives. More importantly, you must understand your own. If you don’t understand everyone’s motives, you’ll make many bad decisions. This book will help you to understand and adjust to your opponents’ motives and, more importantly, help you to make decisions that get the results that are important to you.

Despite being a psychologist and poker player for several decades, I learned a lot of poker psychology from this book. For example, I didn’t know how dopamine causes mistakes, or winning increases testosterone, or how habit hierarchies cause brain farts. That’s the colorful, but apt, term of my professorial friend (and he used even nastier words).

He emphasizes emotional control more than virtually all authors: “I maintain that more money is lost at poker because of poor management of emotional highs and lows than any other factor, more than stupidity, more than bad game selection, more than bad luck… Tilt is the poker player’s greatest enemy, the evil sorcerer stirring the toxic potion to cloud men’s minds. Tilt is the primary source of the losses of most good players.”

Some people will emphatically disagree with that and other positions, but his directness is one of his best features. He doesn’t pull his punches; you know exactly where he stands. I’m looking forward to the debates on the online forums. Poker players love to argue, and he creates lots of opportunities.

He made an excellent analysis of self-deception: “Most of us think we know who we are. Some of us do, but the data are revealing. Most don’t.” They lose, but ignore their results or blame them on bad luck. They keep losing and playing “because they are experts in self-deception!”

His analysis of certain mathematical errors is related to his position on other types of self-deception. Poker players often ignore the indisputable fact that cards are random and make stupid mistakes because they think they are on a rush or overdue for a win. The mathematicians have made these points many times, but he explains why so many poker players can’t or won’t accept randomness.

Much of his academic research was done on implicit learning, which is often called “intuition.” He uses a different term because the process is much more complicated than most people believe. In fact, the distinction between the two was the first lesson he taught me.

Many years ago I wrote some articles on intuition versus logic. He emailed me saying essentially, “You’re a nice guy, Al, but you don’t really understand the subtleties.” I didn’t like being corrected by a stranger, and I resisted for a long time, but finally agreed.

I still believe that logic is more important than implicit learning or intuition, but our email and face to face exchanges helped me to recognize and adjust to logic’s limitations. Unfortunately, space limitations prevent me from explaining how implicit learning works. You’ll have to read the book, but it’s worth the effort.

He has been teaching me poker psychology for many years. If you read this book, you’ll learn a lot of about other people. More importantly, you’ll learn even more about yourself.  (Dec. 11, 2012)


Xero to Sixty
Reber’s protagonist, Xero (a corruption of Xerxes), is a fascinating character with a convoluted past. People, both real and fictional, migrate into professional poker in dozens of ways. I’ve met many, but never encountered one with Xero’s fascinating life story.

Alas, most poker pros are boring. All they’ve done is play poker and other games. This Xero is much more varied. He failed as a college student and book salesman, got busted for impersonating a federal office, traveled with a circus, and his wedding became an ethnic brawl. He has a surprisingly happy, though testy, marriage to a civil rights lawyer. His mentor is a con artist. His best friend is a gay legal hotshot. His closest confidant is an Irish gangster masquerading as a barkeep.

He’s the sort of guy I’d enjoy tossing down a beer with (though he only drinks Guinness) or perhaps playing poker with, even though he’d likely kick my ass.

You’ll enjoy meeting Xero along with the fabulous array of fascinating characters that enter and sometimes stay, sometimes are “removed” and sometimes leave of their own accord, his life. (May 28, 2015)


MailChimp Unboxed: The Complete MailChimp® Guide For Beginners

After selling 200,000 copies of traditionally published books, I started self-publishing. I knew nothing about marketing and hated the idea of doing it.

I am also technophobic. I will never enjoy email or any other technology -based marketing, but I have learned enough to get started.


Marketing Your Book On Amazon: 21 Things You Can Easily Do For Free To Get More Exposure and Sales

Since 1969 I sold 200,000 copies of traditionally published books. As a self-publishing, I have to market books, and I was clueless.
This book provides a great deal of EXTREMELY valuable information and advice. (Oct 8, 2017)

Your Money & Your Brain Review


Your Money and Your Brain: How the New Science of Neuroeconomics Can Help Make You Rich

You aren’t as rational as you think you are.

Poker is a form of investing, and players make the same kinds of mistakes as stock market investors. I’ve been a columnist at Card Player Magazine for 15 years. It’s the oldest and most respected poker periodical. My last seven columns have been about this book. You can read them at cardplayer.com. If your invest in ANYTHING — stocks, poker, real estate, Bitcoin, commodities, etc. — you NEED this book. It will show you how and why your brain causes stupid mistakes. Alan N. Schoonmaker, Ph.D. (Aug 7, 2017)


35 Top Traffic Tips for your Website or Blog Review Alan Schoonmaker35 Top Traffic Tips For Your Website or Blog: Basics For Beginners (Business Basics for Beginners Book 46)

Essential, non-technical help for authors and others.

As a moderately successful author of traditionally published books, I know very little about marketing. Worse yet, I am weak technically. I need what many others need: Simple, non-technical help in driving traffic to my new website. That’s exactly what I got. (Jul. 19, 2017)


Create an Author Website Review by Dr. Al SchoonmakerCreate an Author Website – A Step-by-Step Blueprint for Busy Authors and Writers

Valuable help for struggling authors

I am struggling with the transition from traditional to self-publishing. This book has made that transition less painful. (May 5, 2017)


Creating Websites for Authors Review by Dr. Al Schoonmaker

Creating Websites for Authors: How to Make a Website, Connect with your Audience

Very helpful to a newbie to self-publishing. Since publishers marketed my previous books, I had no clue about building a website. (May 4, 2017)


Poker Knows by Gene Hull Review by Dr. Al Schoonmaker

Poker Knows
Poker Knows can improve your poker and put money in your pocket, but that’s not its only objective. Hundreds of books can improve your poker results, but this one will also help you to understand yourself, other people, and life in general.
That understanding will improve your decisions about much more important issues than poker. Here are a few revealing quotations:
• “By becoming better at poker you will become better at everything.”
• This book is “not entirely about poker. It’s about being a good explorer… It’s not what you know that will help you make a good decision. It’s how skillful you are at figuring things out.”
• “Many of the qualities required to be a great poker player are the same qualities for success in life.”
• “Ultimately, if you can master yourself, poker is a piece of cake.”
• “Pros begin their strategy based on situational value. It is the same for poker, business, or life.”
• “An important component of mindfulness is recognizing your own changing state of mind and taking control back.”
• “To be able to really trust yourself you have to be comfortable with vulnerability.”
• “You will become a better poker player from the information in this book, but my greatest hope is that you will discover enjoyable and productive ways to approach all your experiences… there are things that poker will teach you about yourself, others, and life in general.”

Poker’s educational value is one of my passions. David Sklansky and I wrote “Poker Is Good for You” and DUCY? They stated that poker (and other types of gambling) can improve study habits, math understanding, logical thinking, concentration, patience, discipline, a long-term focus, realism, adjusting to diverse people, and many other valuable skills and traits.

The author of Poker Knows would agree that it develops those qualities, but he puts a higher priority than David and I did on developing self-knowledge: “Know thyself. You must understand yourself to … pick the right games that match your skill and play style. (Nov 13, 2015)


Donkey Poker Book Review

Donkey Poker: Crushing Low-Stakes Live NLH

Donkey Games Require Different Strategies

I wholeheartedly agree with his basic premise: Donkey Games are fundamentally different from solid ones and require very different strategies. For example, he states that you can repeatedly limp with small pairs and suited connectors without being exploited because “in Donkey Games… few players will know what you’re doing. And some that do notice will not exploit you if they must play outside their comfort zone.” (p. 5) Since I’m a psychologist, I was delighted that he started discussing poker psychology on page 8 and continued to discuss it for the entire book. Since my math is considerably weaker than I’d like, I particularly appreciated his discussion of poker math. Even better, he explains that math simply. Unlike most poker books – including mine – he reports an immense amount of data to support his conclusions. I have never read a poker strategy book that reports and analyses so much data. He gives many examples of good and bad play, and his explanations are data-driven. That is, he uses the data to explain why plays are good or bad. It’s not an easy book to read, but no sensible player thinks it’s easy to win at poker. If you’re willing to work, this book can greatly improve your results. (Sept. 1, 2015)


Simple Self-Publishing Success Strategies Review

Simple Self-Publishing Success Strategies: How to Sell More Books and Build Your Audience (Indie Author Success Series Book 2)

This book and “Write Short Kindle Books” both deserve five …

This book and “Write Short Kindle Books” both deserve five stars. After many years of writing fairly successful traditional books, I am switching to short Kindle books.

Your books have been very helpful. I must make one small criticism. You suggest putting a link in the book for readers to create a review, but don’t say HOW to do it.  (July 9, 2015)

Write Short Kindle Books Review


Write Short Kindle Books: A Self-Publishing Manifesto for Non-Fiction Authors (Indie Author Success Series Book 1)

Wonderful

After publishing 11 traditional books, I decided to try self-publishing. This book has been EXTRAORDINARILY helpful. (May 4, 2016)


The Art and Science of Poker Tournament Selection

Poker is a strange game. In most games, success is directly related to skill. The more skilled you are, the better results you get. But many highly skilled poker players are broke or struggling, and many less skilled players are steady winners. Why? Because the highly skilled losers pick the wrong games, and the less skilled winners pick the right ones. An excellent stud player once said, “It’s no good to be the eighth best player in the world when the top seven are at my table.” Choosing the right game is even more important for tournament players than for cash game players. Not only must you choose games that match your skill level. You must also pick ones that fit your style, or you must adjust your style to fit the tournament. You must also pick ones with reasonable costs, and many tournament directors deliberately obscure their costs. Surprisingly, these subjects are rarely discussed. Virtually all the tournament books focus on how you should play, not where you should play. But, if you pick the wrong tournaments, you will certainly be a long-term loser. This book tells you how to select tournaments that fit your natural style, and how to adjust your style to fit each one’s speed, structure, and other characteristics. It also thoroughly analyses an extremely important, but little discussed, subject: the juice. Most players pay relatively little attention to the juice, yet it can be the difference between being a long-term winner or loser. This is the first book I’ve read that thoroughly compares WSOP events with other tournaments and tells you how to pick the events that give you the best value for your money and also tells you how to adjust to them. If you’re a serious tournament player, you need this book, and the cost is trivial $3.99.