Poker for Dummies DVD


Chris Moneymaker is the host of Poker for Dummies, the DVD designed literally for dummies that want to play poker. In terms of presentation this is in a lot of ways the best production I've seen among poker videos. Do the sleek graphics, music and proper editing alone make it worth watching, though?

There are two kinds of poker books and/or videos: those that sincerely care about the theories and possibilities in how and why the game works, which I call inspired poker works, and those that don't really care, the uninspired (aka cashing in on the poker fad). To me, and I know I shouldn't have turned to the "for dummies" series and expected something enlightening, this DVD is about 45 minutes of worthless, uninspired trash plus some commercials at the end.

To be fair, the makers of the film were aiming pretty low, and it's clear from the start that the work is aimed at total beginners who have absolutely never played poker before. After a couple minutes of introductory fluff, they begin the content of the video with a lengthy poker basics segment covering how you win hands, poker chips, hand ranks, betting, and poker etiquette. The hand ranking section is an excruciating 4 minute explanation of every possible hand from a pair up to a royal flush. This is something you could learn on any poker website for free, and I can't imagine anyone anywhere reading a hand ranking chart for anywhere near 4 minutes. By the end of this segment 1/5 of the video is now over.

After the poker basics segment comes a section specifically dealing with Texas Hold'Em. Enter Card Player magazine owner and editor, Barry Shulman, to take a little of the heat off Moneymaker in teaching the sequence of events in Hold'Em. The two trade off the narrator duties through this section, which is pretty repetitive mentioning the option to check, raise, call or fold, all the way around the table for the pre-flop, flop, turn and river betting rounds. There is no mention of strategy at all in this section; it just goes through the bare bones sequence of events. This section is ten minutes long and we're now about halfway through the video. We've learned that you can check, bet, call or fold and the hand ranks so far.

The following strategy section touches on positional strength, pre-flop standards, multi-way vs. heads up, playing the blinds, playing the flop, turn and river. This section is a little under 7 minutes long, so they really just introduce the various concepts I listed and don't provide any real info on strategy whatsoever. This video spends almost as much time on hand ranks as it does on all strategy combined.

The next section about bluffs and tells is a lot more organized and would make a decent introduction to these concepts for a beginner. Moneymaker gives some basic bluffing concepts and Shulman runs down a list of common tells. This is the best part of the video by far.

After Moneymaker's Top Ten World Series Secrets, there are a few minutes introducing other games like Omaha, 7 card stud and 5 card draw. If you don't count these brief introductions and the commercials that run after them, this video is about 35 minutes of actual poker content and the usefulness of that content is highly questionable.

On top of all the terribleness I've already mentioned Moneymaker appears fidgety and uncomfortable at various points throughout the video, while sounding comfortable and well-rehearsed in his lines. Somehow the juxtaposition of a comfortable narrative with his fidgeting hand motions and awkward head movements is way more off-putting than if he was merely completely uncomfortable. It gave me the willies!

Conclusion: This video isn't even worth watching if you already know the hand ranks and sequence of play in Texas Hold'Em. Even if you don't know those things, I suggest you don't buy this one. No one could ever watch this more than once. This is a rental at best.

½ out of 4 aces

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