Poker Secrets from Poker Champs

First there were Phil Hellmuth's Million Dollar System DVDs. Shortly after that came Howard Lederer's Secrets of No Limit Hold'Em DVDs, and now riding in on the heels of those two series comes Poker Secrets from Poker Champs released in December 2004. Just in time for Kwanzaa.

Poker Secrets from Poker Champs strays from the formula of the Phil Hellmuth and Howard Lederer DVDs in that it is presented in the form of a collection of interviews with several poker pros as opposed to a single poker player talking directly to the camera. The interviews primarily try to go over what advice the pro would give a player just starting out in poker, but also touch on experiences pros have had playing poker over the years.

If Poker Secrets from Poker Champs was created with the primary goal of teaching someone any kind of rigid or even slightly particular poker strategy, it failed miserably. It is more like getting 15 doses of potentially useful but ominously vague advice. It makes up for this, to some degree at least, in sheer quantity. Poker Secrets from Poker Champs clocks in at a little over 2 hours (most poker DVDs barely crack an hour), and covers a lot of ground accordingly. It doesn't get really in depth like your typical poker book would, but it does touch on a very wide variety of topics and there is certainly a lot to work with here for a beginner.

My favorite section was the very first interview with Daniel Negreanu. His advice seemed practical, and he seemed like the most articulate and genuine of the people interviewed. The other highlight was John Bonetti who seemed highly enthusiastic and likeable.

Much time is spent mentioning patience and position, and while those are certainly important elements of solid poker, they are merely mentioned here repeatedly. A book would go into greater detail, explaining why those concepts are important and how you can implement them properly when playing. This DVD merely states and restates that both are crucially important, mostly missing the why and how. Ultimately, this idea sums up this DVD: The information is good but lacks depth and at times context. It still is certainly worth watching as a sometimes entertaining collection of interviews with some of the best pro poker players, but not what most people would expect when purchasing a how-to poker video.

From a presentation/entertainment standpoint, the interviews are a bit shaky at times. The interviewer and interviewee interrupt each other periodically and there is some other random awkwardness at points. On the whole, some of the editing makes up for this, and the personalities of the poker players being interviewed shine through well enough in any case.

Conclusion: If you were looking for a DVD to help you improve your poker game I wouldn't recommend this one very strongly, but if you have any interest in watching a couple hours worth of interviews with about 15 of the top poker players (including Johnny Chan, Jennifer Harmon, and Scotty Nguyen along with the aforementioned Negreanu and Bonetti among others) then this is potentially worth a rental, and if you're a total fanatic it could be worth a purchase. I imagine some people will enjoy this and some will not watch the entire video.

2 out of 4 aces

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