Thursday, May 31, 2007

REVIEW: www.learn-texas-holdem.com

The following is a paid review.

Site reviewed: www.learn-texas-holdem.com

Summary

One might expect a site that has the words "Learn Texas Hold em" in the title to be primarily aimed at beginners, but this one isn't. While it does have a reasonable collection of articles for the beginning player, the majority of its content is aimed at more advanced players already familiar with the jargon and basic skills of the game.

The site contains, in essence, three main features: articles about the game, aimed at those playing, or intending to play, for money; rankings and short reviews of online texas holdem sites; and a few downloadable professional player assistance tools.

Design and Navigation

The site is very well laid out and easy to navigate, although it appears to contain more types of information than it really does. There are numerous categories and so on in the navigation bar and side bar, but everything on the site is either an article, rating/review, or a tool, at least as far as I could tell.

The pages employ some solid JS and HTML, and were pleasant to use, easy to read, and had no annoying problems.

Oddly enough, one vast hole in the website is that it contains nothing whatsoever about who runs the site or how to contact him or her. The only clue is the occasional use of the word "I" or "my", which indicates that the site is probably done by one person. He or she even asks the reader to let him or her know about requested improvements, but provides no means of identifying or contacting him or her.

Update: Contact information here.

Articles

The articles really shine. Not only are they full of useful information about the game, the odds, the industry, and so on, they are well laid out and easy to read. And interesting to read, too.

They are organized by topic, supposedly, but the organization was rather loose; instead, simply use the titles to guide you. The exception to this is a group of articles entitled "Bad Beat", which are generally amusing stories of opponents pulling inside straight flushes and so on.

They really are educational, not only about the game itself, but also about the long-term view of playing thousands and thousands of hands a year, where even a lunk like me can tell that the skill of playing your opponents is going to edge out any short term run of luck.

(I know the site owner is going to think I'm an idiot here, but every article simply assumes that you're playing TH for money. As a gamer but not a gambler, this irks me just a tad. It might be possible to enjoy the game of TH just for fun. But, come to think of it, playing for money and playing for poker chips is not too much different.

It's just that when you read article after article about finding the "losers" and how to take their money, it gets a little dehumanizing. After all, the entire idea here is to make a living out of other people losing their money to you because they are too stupid to play poker. General strategy articles I read about winning other types of games don't talk like this; mainly because they're more concerned about the fun of the game, than the ultimate winnings.

I have no objection to someone spending $100 on poker and losing it if they at least get $100 worth of entertainment out of it. But when you read about skill after skill, and tip after tip, on how to separate fools from their money, it feels a bit nasty. But, that's the reality of poker.)

The site also offers a Newsletter of "free poker tips".

Ranking and Reviews

Even more prominent on the site are the rankings and reviews of online poker sites. Like the previous site I reviewed, it is quite clear that this site makes money from referrals to the sites reviewed, and even has special agreements with some of them. As a result, the reviews must be understood as having some susceptibility to bias; unfortunately, no such disclaimer is provided.

The rankings are done on several areas, such as best overall site, best room, best sign-up bonus, best tournaments, and so on. There is no full list of ranked sites. Instead, only the top ten or so in each area are displayed. I can't tell how many sites are reviewed over all, there is no way of finding a specific site, and there is no way of seeing the poorly ranked sites, if any exist.

The reviews are very short, and generally positive, with most of the negative comments concerning the interface or software. Along with each review comes information on whether they accept U.S. players, sign-up bonus, and instructions on how to get started on the site.

Although this is the site's main feature, it didn't impress me overall; there should be more sites, easier access to the entire list of sites, and more thorough reviews.

Tools

The site provides four tools:

1. texas holdem calculator

This is a free online Flash program that allows you to place cards around and then calculate the odds of winning or losing from the specified position. It can be used to analyze several types of game and from 2 to 5 players in a game.

2. texas calculatem

This is a small client that sits above actual rooms on certain sites and allows you to see the odds as you play on the site. I'd say that for a beginner, this is probably an essential tool; most advanced players probably know the odds of any particular hand off the top of their head.

This tool is free if you sign-up at a site while downloading it. It doesn't appear to be available for purchase otherwise.

3. sit and go shark

The same thing as texas calculatem for the game Sit and Go.

4. Poker Usher

My comment about this site showing a certain amount of "nasty" may just as well of been inspired by this little doodad, which records and analyzes hands from your online playing experience and then finds the tables with the worst players when you log into a site, allowing you to quickly and easily strip them of their money, like a shark smelling blood.

Ugh.

I have to admit it's probably a unique tool and a good idea if you're serious about making money through online poker. However, it appears to take some time to build up enough of a database of information before it starts becoming useful.

Conclusion

If one wants to seriously learn to play for money, the articles on this site and the tools appear to be excellent resources for just that. The ratings and rankings are ok, but nothing special. You may get some benefit out of clicking through to an online site from this site owing to some of the special offers.

Yehuda

2 comments:

Apotheos said...

So how is this paid review gig working out for you? They seem kinda forced, which I guess is appropriate. Are you at least getting more than a shiney quarter?

Yehuda said...

Apoth- I'll make a post about it.

While the posts are rather formal, they are not forced. I genuinely found interesting material while doing the reviews.

Yehuda