Howard Lederer's Secrets of No Limit Hold 'Em DVD

This DVD is the first volume in the Howard Lederer DVD series. Most people looking at this site are probably familiar with Lederer, one of the best professional poker players in the world and a regular on TV via both the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker. His nickname among poker fans is The Professor, so it's fitting that in his series of DVDs he is attempting to teach you the principles that will take you from a beginner to an intermediate or good player.

This video is just under an hour and a half long and primarily covers the fundamental elements of being a tight, aggressive player with a few general tips sprinkled in. The biggest areas of focus for the video are pre-flop strategy, how to set up a home tournament, draws and odds plus a few tells and Lederer throws out some ideas about reading the board and your opponent.

I imagine some people will be happier with the presentation aspects of the video than others. This was a rather low budget affair, and most of the video is just Lederer alone sitting at a poker table talking to the camera. This did not bother me, and in fact I found a few things to like about it.

Unlike the horrible "Poker for Dummies" starring Chris Moneymaker, it was obvious that Lederer is not reading cue cards or working from any kind of a script whatsoever. While at first glance that may seem like a bad thing, in real life application it is not at all. Where Moneymaker sounded phony and looked uncomfortable, Lederer looks really comfortable and is a very articulate and likable guy. (I'm not saying that Moneymaker is a bad guy, but since he doesn't get to be himself in the video it just sucks.) In fact, after watching these DVDs I am a big Lederer fan. There aren't many people in the public realm that can be serious without being arrogant or condescending. Lederer's sincerity stands in glaring contrast to the egomaniacal Bill O'Reilly's of the world. You actually get the impression that he is a decent person.

I've read some bad reviews for this volume, (most notably the one up on Amazon), and to be honest I don't think they're fair at all. This video brilliantly doesn't try to do too much. It is a starting point. It articulates the basic elements of poker strategy in an impressively organized fashion and basically says "master these concepts and then you can start thinking about how to twist things a little bit to become unpredictable and dangerous."

I think too many poker books and presumably videos are too ambitious, and a lot of that is probably because of super high expectations from the customers. People, you're not going to read a book or watch a video and instantly become amazing at poker. There aren't literally secrets that you can learn and use for 100% victory. That seems to be the consumer expectation, and so in attempting to meet that demand, books and videos are produced that try to be useful to both beginners and experienced players and end up not helping either very much.

The Lederer videos, to me, are among the exceptions to that rule, thankfully. Lederer himself seems more realistic about the help his video can provide, and unlike others who try to sell a quick fix, Lederer stresses practice. You will not watch this video and instantly become a brilliant poker player, but it can be a building block, and if you practice a lot and get to where you have a good command of these concepts, you'll either start thinking of ways to mix things up yourself or you can watch the next DVD in the series and get some ideas about starting to become more unpredictable.

The next volume in the series does go a long way toward making you a legitimate threat at the poker table, but I highly recommend picking up this one first if you're relatively new to poker, and thus making sure you have the fundamentals of the game down and that you understand the concepts that define those fundamentals.

Conclusion: I'm a big fan of the Lederer DVD series. If you've never played poker before, and you don't know the hand ranks and other essential info about how the game works, this video is not for you. If you've played a little poker, and are ready to delve into the first phase of poker strategy, these videos are awesome. They are organized, articulate and give you plenty of things to think about. While watching this, I didn't necessarily feel like I was learning a ton of completely new material as much as finally organizing all the basic poker concepts I was familiar with. Finally connecting the poker dots, so to speak.

3 ½ out of 4 aces

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