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Book Review: How I Made My First Million From Poker by Tri "SlowHabit" Nguyen

Posted at 10:07 2011-12-22

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I got my hands on Tri “SlowHabit” Nguyen’s new book, How I Made My First Million From Poker. The title certainly appealed to me (hey, I’d like to make a million dollars playing poker), but I wasn’t sure if it was a strategy manual or simply a recounting of Nguyen’s tale. Speaking of Nguyen, I must admit that I was unfamiliar with his accomplishments, and as is often the case, I was skeptical reading a book by someone I didn’t know.

As it turns out, Nguyen is actually quite the successful online grinder and poker author. He has penned such manuscripts as The Poker Blueprint: Advanced Strategies for Crushing Micro & Small Stakes NL, The Pot Limit Omaha Book: Transitioning from NLHE to PLO, and Let There Be Range (the latter costing a steep $1,850 in 2009), making him a very accomplished and credentialed poker authority. After learning exactly who he was, I became quite excited to read How I Made My First Million From Poker, which Nguyen has admitted was the hardest of all his books to write.

The book itself is a mixed bag. First, it isn’t quite a strategy book, nor is it a narrative. Instead, Nguyen has pulled from different writing styles (strategy, narrative, mindset, online instruction, autobiography, etc.) and blended them into a unique manuscript. I suppose the idea was to bring together the best of all worlds, and though it works on certain levels, it fails on others.

For instance, the most adverse thing in Nguyen’s latest text, as is the case with many poker books these days, is the disappearance of the online poker market in the United States. As a grinder who made his million playing online, most of Nguyen’s experience, stories, and advice concern the virtual felt, which may be of little interest to those unable to play on the computer. If I were looking to become an online pro, Nguyen’s advice and experience would prove invaluable; as it is however, my online options are limited and I felt much of the material was irrelevant to my poker reality in the U.S.

I don’t mean to suggest the book is a waste of time to the non-online player; on the contrary, I think there are plenty of gems hidden throughout the book to warrant a read. As someone who plays live, I found numerous tidbits that helped improve my game.

One that jumps to mind was implementing Nguyen’s “No Free Showdown Rule,” which is pretty self explanatory. After reading that chapter, I immediately realized I was checking the river way too often, bet more the next time I played, and won. It was great taking a lesson from the book, applying it to my game, and seeing some immediate results.

The other thing I found particularly useful in How I Made My First Million From Poker was the importance of finding a balance between life and poker. Like so many, I often have troubles dealing with the trials and tribulations associated with the game, and dealing with my emotions is by far my toughest impediment. I found solace in the fact that Nguyen didn’t pretend to be above this, admitting that he does experience tilt, despair, and frustration. He spends a large portion of the book teaching the reader how to cultivate a healthy poker mindset, which is one of the factors that distinguishes top professionals from the masses.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the various exercises included at the end of each chapter. The questions and scenarios presented by Nguyen actively engage the reader and makes you think about the material you just read. Nguyen is a highly respected poker coach in the community, and it was almost as if by asking these questions he was there coaching me and challenging me to study and employ the advocated lessons.

Taking the time to complete these challenges may seem daunting, but it is necessary if you hope to properly absorb all of the information in the book, plus doing it in the book is a heck of a lot cheaper than hiring a poker coach of your own.

One final thing, I got a kick out of Nguyen’s insistence that online players not keep a large amount of money online, instead encouraging them to make frequent withdrawals into a bank account. Nguyen wrote the majority of the book pre-Black Friday, and those words of wisdom ultimately proved invaluable. The timing was a bit ironic, but I was impressed by Nguyen’s foresight nonetheless.

Here is a look at some of the other chapters you can look forward to in How I Made My First Million From Poker:

  • Balance Between Life and Poker
  • Mindfulness
  • The Downswing
  • Building a Bankroll
  • Why Do You Play Poker?

How I Made My First Million From Poker is a must for any player looking to make their fortune playing online. As previously stated, Nguyen’s experience and wisdom in that realm is invaluable. For the non-online player, the book is worth a read as it also serves as a worthwhile mindset manuscript.

For those interested in obtaining How I Made My First Million From Poker, you can visit DailyVariance.com and pick up your copy (available in paperback, eBook, iPad, and Kindle) for just $47.00. Nguyen offers a 90-Day Return Policy in that “if you are not satisfied with your purchase — for any reason at all — ask for a refund and your money is back in your account in 24 hours. No quarrels . . . no qualms . . . That’s my promise to you.”

Needless to say, you can’t go wrong with a freeroll.

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